Do you remember Leave It To Beaver? Those episodes of a boy who went off to school while his mom stayed home making dinner and after school snacks for her boys. Dad went to a 9 to 5 job and the issue presented during the 1/2 hour show is wrapped up with a pretty bow by the end.
When we step out of the 1950s, the nuclear family of today is far from Beaver Cleaver’s reality. In fact, we have many, many different family life structures these days.
I remember in the late 80s and again in the 90s our family experienced a lay-off and my dad found work two states away. The entire family didn’t move so that meant dad lived out of state for long periods at a time.Tough on a family with young kids.
The 80s and 90s are a far cry from today with the tools we have at our finger tips, like social media and apps. The one thing that remains so critical is communication.
Below are a few tips that may help if you travel a lot or have an out of state work situation like we did.
- Communication is key! Keep it open and positive because the kiddos pick up on the negative and stressed vibe.
- Create a call calendar. Keep a scheduled call and stick to it. Face Time and Skype are great ways to see one another and have a chat. A video call will help everyone feel connected.
- Map it out: You can pull out a map, pin it up on the wall and show the kids where everyone will be and when. Use stickers to make it fun and an added bonus is that you will be teaching the kids about geography in the process.
- Set-up a care package. Have the kids draw pictures, make noodle necklaces or hand paintings. For older kids, writing a note can help ease the feelings of missing a parent. A surprise package will help a lonely traveler and get the kids involved, too.
- Keep it simple! Break it down one step at a time for the family. If the distance is for school programs, talk to the kids about the school, the program and what it means for the family. Another great teachable moment about college, goals and achievements we work towards in life. Look forward to the dates you all get to reunite face-to-face and let the thousand and one details take a rest for a while.
While life is far from Leave It To Beaver, we have many tools, apps and resources available to make it feel like we are a room away.
Often the anxiety of a transition ends up being tougher than the actual transition. Give yourself a break. There’s no perfect way to navigate life changes. The best we can do is keep communication open, keep it positive and know that in the end, you are doing the best you can do for your family.
Do you have any tips to share for long-distance families?