Since April 9th, my husband Scott has been out of town for work in Arizona. This was a shorter trip for him, being only about two weeks long and actually in the United States! Scott has only had to travel a few times since Cole was born, but this was the first time that Cole was old enough to comprehend that daddy really wasn’t here.
For those of you who don’t know, Cole is 2, so he is extremely aware of what’s going on. Therefore, this trip was a little more trying than the previous ones, even though this trip was the shortest Scott has ever been gone. As I was getting through the two weeks (as this was also MY first time alone with a toddler in the house 24/7 with minimal breaks – thank you, mom, and friends) I definitely picked up on some things that had drastically affected Cole’s behavior and mood. Hopefully, these 4 tips to help your child cope while daddy’s out of town, helps you if your spouse has to travel!
4 Tips to Help Your Child Cope when Daddy’s Out of Town
I know, I know, I know. “Redirection”. The ultimate parenting word of 2017. Whether you use redirection in your home or not, in this situation it REALLY helped us. If Cole started to get upset or cry for Daddy, I would acknowledge his words and reassure him that Daddy would talk to him later, was coming home soon, and Daddy would probably want us to go ________. (insert whatever your child likes to do the most here). For example, Cole LOVES painting and playing in his water table outside; luckily, we have had quite a few days of nice weather where I could take him outside, fill up the water table, and it immediately “drowned his sorrows”…ha…ha…ha! <yes, I’m corny. keep reading.> This is an easy concept and was a necessary step for my sanity.
3. Facetime, Often.
Now, for some kids, I will say that this could cause an adverse effect; thus, upsetting them more than helping them. Try it out and see how it goes. For Cole, it really helped. Scott was on the 9pm-9am shift at the Nuclear Power Plant so he was able to talk to Cole around 11AM and before Cole went to sleep around 7:30PM. This was probably the best part of Cole’s day! However, Scott wouldn’t have known that because every time Scott called, Cole just wanted to play and ignore him. Poor guy. haha. But, because kids are weird, as soon as Scott would hang up, he would want daddy again! He’s too much, people! Overall, Facetiming with Cole seemed to tremendously relieve his “mood swings”, which I’ll get to next.
2. Expect Over-Sensitivity
My goodness can my boy have a temper tantrum. He did okay for the first week, then once day 8 hit, it was like my son couldn’t handle his big emotions anymore and just would bawl his eyes out at the simplest things! (yes! even more than normal toddler woes!). I would walk into his room in the morning, go to give him a hug, and he would just LOSE. HIS. MIND. Eventually, I would get him to calm down and he would cuddle me and ask for daddy. This was how I knew it was purely because he was missing the best man he knows.
The tantrums happened often during the second week (thank the beautiful Lord that this trip wasn’t longer!) and I found myself counting to 10 a lot. haha. But, I kept reminding myself that this over-sensitivity wasn’t his fault and his inability to cope with his big feelings is normal. And YES, moms, I need to go buy more wine.
1. Routine, Routine, Routine!
This is by far the BEST tip I could ever give you if your kiddo is struggling with an out of town parent. KEEP THEIR ROUTINE THE SAME. We’ve all been told that children thrive on routine, right? Cole has been a “schedule baby” ever since he was born, so I knew I needed to keep his schedule intact for these two weeks for mama to have any sort of sanity or even time to myself. I was told by a lot of people to try and “fill my weeks” with stuff for us to do. Granted, that may work for some people’s kids, but I knew it definitely wouldn’t work for mine!
Therefore, our house was clockwork. 8-9am wake up, play, eat, 12-3 nap (maybe), play, dinner, play, bath, 7:30 bedtime. And don’t think I forgot all of the snacks and drinks he wanted in there. Because I didn’t. The kid would eat a billion fruit snacks if I let him. Yoi!
The one tricky part of his routine was bath-time. Scott is a very Active father every day (mega love for ya, babe). One of his biggest roles is handling bath-time and bedtime. (don’t worry folks, I kiss my kid goodnight, every night). It’s their quality time, so I knew this part would be the biggest struggle for Cole. He definitely fought me the most at bedtime, even more than when I put him down on random occasions when Scott is home. But we muddled through it and I just tried to be as forgiving and loving as possible to my struggling tiny human. Sad little dude just missed his dad!
I hope these 4 tips to help your child cope when daddy’s out of town gave you a little insight into how to handle it; I’m sure there are a ton of others! Since I’m pretty positive Scott will be traveling again, feel free to let me know your secrets in the comment section below! Help this mama out!
Also, I just wanted to say, that I am fully aware of how many moms have beautiful children at home without their dads who may be out of town a lot or serving overseas, etc. I literally don’t know HOW you do this for months or even years at a time. You are my heroes! I give you all the credit in the world! (I’m fist pumping for you right now.)