Traveling for work can be hard on you, your significant other, and your child. Although many people think traveling for work is a perk, having a child makes it difficult to just pick up your bags and head out the door. As hard as it may be, sometimes these work trips are company requirements and cannot be avoided. Your child may have strong feelings regarding your work trip. He may feel angry or sad at the idea of missing you and not being able to see you for extended periods of time. Here are tips for preparing your child for when you need to travel for work:

1. Inform your child about your work trip ahead of time, a couple days in advance if possible.

2. Create a special map with your child.

3. Make a story book about this topic.

1. Inform your child about your work trip.

It is very important for you to give your child the heads up about your trip. Do your best to ensure that it is not an abrupt, last minute goodbye. There are times in which you have no choice but to tell your child last minute before leaving because of the short notice from your company. In these situations, remain calm. Emphasize how much you love your child and that your love will still be there even when you are not there. “Daddy always comes back.” Younger children have difficulty understanding the concept of time. With this in mind, they might not know the difference between a week long trip and a month long trip. The one thing they do know is that he or she will miss you. We suggest informing your child a couple days in advance, as informing your child too early will give your child more time to become more anxious and informing your child too late will be too abrupt of a goodbye. When informing your child about your work trip, give as much detail as possible. When are you leaving? What will be you be doing there? Will you still be able to keep in touch? When are you coming back?

2. Create a special map with your child.

Before leaving, sit with your child and show him a printed map of where you will be. Your child can place a sticker on your location or draw a small stick figure. This keeps your child involved and helps your child gain a sense of control in a situation where he has no control. You can turn this into a fun activity by doing some research with your child. Show your child pictures of the place and tell them a brief history of where you are going. What is the most popular food there? How is the weather there? Are there a lot of people living there? Providing details to your child will give them the opportunity to visualize where you will be and possibly ease some of the worries.

3. Make a story book about this topic, so that your child has a narrative.

A “bye-bye” book is a narrative that helps illustrate what is going on and provides your child with a tangible object to help cope with the transition. You can use card stock and draw pictures with your child. You can add photos of you and your child at home and one of you at work. You can cut pictures from magazines. You can find pictures of an airplane and the place you are visiting, cut them out, and glue into your book. Work together and make this a special book created by you two. In the book, you can describe why you are leaving and when you are coming back. You can also use the book to emphasize that your love for your child is always there no matter how close or far you are. Your child will be able to read this during your time away and it will act as a great reminder of when you will return. Be sure to include a happy ending and what you will do when you return.

Written by Marilee Hartling and Daniel Munoz

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