Preparing Kids for When a Parent Travels

Preparing Kids for When a Parent/Grandparent Travels

In my work as a school teacher, energy healer, and a mother of four children of my own, I learned that it is important to make transitions and change easier for our children.  Even well meaning parents can sometimes neglect to communicate in a way the children can understand which can leave children feeling abandoned and unloved.  It may seem trivial but over the years this small event can build up into many forms of anxiety.

Most of us can’t avoid the occasional separation from our children when we have travel or go away for various reasons.  It is good to be separated from time to time.  It teaches us many valuable character building lessons.  The goal is to make this as positive an experience as possible for our children and for ourselves.  Here are my top 7 tips for parents and grandparents who are planning to travel.

1. Announce Plans Early

Announce your plans early.  Give your children at least a week in advance notice.  Explain it in several different ways to help children understand it.  This will give them time to ask questions and prepare their mind for the event.

2. Check for Understanding & Clarify Expectations 

Depending on the age of your children, there are many ways you can check to make sure they understand what exactly is going on.

  • Show them on a map where you are going.  Point out where they are in comparison to where you will be.
  • Ask them to repeat back to you where they think you are going, why you are going and what you will be doing.
  • Ask them to tell you who is staying with them and have them tell you what they are expected to do.
  • If you have a schedule of things that they will be doing with the babysitter, go through it with them so they have clear expectations and something to look forward to while you are gone.  This will keep them busy and not miss you too much.

3.  Practice Communications

Practice communicating with devices so they know how they can reach you if they need to.  If they’ve never FaceTimed with you, then practice that.  My youngest two are now 10 years old.  We recently got them cell phones.  We practiced texting and calling each other.  It was fun.

Of course the babysitter will be around but just for everyone’s peace of mind, have a list of phone numbers of friends and family nearby who can assist them if they needed help.

4. Punctuate & Mark the Beginning of Separation 

Mark the time you leave by announcing at the last meal, that this is the last meal together until you return.  Make it a special last meal.  I say to the children, “Remember when you come home today, mommy and daddy won’t be here.  Aunty XYZ will be here with you.”

Leave a love note (if they can read). Instead of saying, “I will miss you.”  Say, “I’ll be thinking of you.”  Saying I will miss you implies it will be a sad separation.

5. Measure Time

Young children have difficulty measuring time.  We need to give them something tangible to be able to measure time with.

You can make paper chains for each day you are away so they can physically see and know how many days they have left.

Sticker charts are another way we can help them measure time.

If the kids are older, they can cross out dates on the calendar to measure time and know how many more days are left until your return.

These are just some ideas, there are more ideas you can come up with to meet the needs of your children.

6. Simplify Routine

Make it easy on sitter:

  • Leave a list of health issues or allergies your children may have.  (No allergies in my home.  I try tell my kids they are allergic to junk food!)
  • Make a simple to read schedule of daily routine so the sitter knows how your days look.
  • Cancel what can be cancelled.  Don’t overwhelm the sitter.  It is a lot of work and took you a while to get the hang of taxiing your kids from activity to activity.  When the sitter is relaxed, the kids are too.  Children are very empathic.
  • Plan meals.  My children love structure as much as I do.  I find that it is easier for grocery shopping when we decide in advance what we want to eat for dinners.  During the times I am gone, I plan fun meals that my children can cook.  My children are old enough and I’ve trained them to cook most dinners.  It is a fun confidence-building task for them.  They feel that they are contributing in a meaningful way to the family when they can put a meal together by themselves.  I pair my children up so they work in together and help each other out.
  • Assign chores so important tasks such as taking out the garbage and washing dishes are done daily.  This way there will be no disputes and the house runs smoothly as if the parents are home.
  • Freeze dinners.  If you know your children likes certain foods cooked in a certain way, you can make several meals and freeze them. That way the sitters only need to warm it up and serve.

7. Celebrate & Mark Reunion

When you return, have a special meal or simple celebration as soon as you can to mark the reunion.  Give meaningful gifts to the children as a token for ‘I was thinking of you.’

Diffuse happy oils to create happy associations.


I hope this helps you.  Please comment below if you have other ideas and suggestions for preparing kids for when a parent travels.



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