Traveling for work can bring an exciting change of scenery, but for those with little ones at home, it can add some challenges, too. How do you keep your child from missing you too much while you’re gone? How do you assure them you’re coming back? And for the parent left behind – what can they do to keep kids’ spirits high?
We thought that Lori Richmond would be the best person to ask for advice—not only did she have to travel for work for years as a corporate creative director, but she wrote a new picture book that addresses this very topic, Bunny’s Staycation!
See below for the tricks that Lori has personally tested, and be sure to check out Bunny’s Staycation, on sale today!
Scholastic: What are some creative ways to involve kids in the trip preparation process?
Lori Richmond: I'd always ask my children to help me pack—it was the perfect time to discuss their feelings about my travel. Kids know that parents can feel lonely, too. If your child worries about your feelings, offer to take a plush toy (of their choice) along as a travel companion. Your child can draw a plane ticket and pack a bag for the toy—use an inexpensive toiletry bag as a “suitcase.”
S: Kids are sure to miss the parent who goes away! Is there anything Mom or Dad can do to help ease the separation?
LR: Make it easy for small children to visualize and count the days until you’ll be back by creating a simple calendar or sticker chart. Remain present while you're away by leaving handwritten notes around the house—when your child finds one, it’s like getting a hug from afar! Make sure to schedule a check in on FaceTime or over the phone. If you’re in a different time zone, accommodate the time zone your child is in. And to make bedtime easier, leave a worn t-shirt or another soft article of your clothing for your child to cuddle with—my older son still asks for this when I travel!
S: What are some fun activities that a child can do with the parent or caregiver who stays at home?
LR: My husband flew more than 125,000 miles last year, so my kids and I had many at-home adventures. One of our Friday night favorites was to pitch a tent in the living room and watch movies! (Here's a photo of my two boys camping in our living room!) Here are a few more ideas:
- Like Bunny and Papa, have an at-home beach party by tossing an inflatable ball in the tub and wearing sunglasses at bath time.
- If you’re stuck inside during the winter season, oversized pom-poms make a great indoor snowball fight!
- Be explorers by learning about the city or country the other parent is traveling to—take out books from the library or go on a neighborhood walk via Google Earth.
S: The best thing about business trips is that mom or dad will come back! What’s a special way to welcome them home?
LR: Simply spending quality, uninterrupted time together is the most special thing you can do when you reunite as a family.
For more information on Bunny’s Staycation: