5 Ways to Stay Connected When a Family Member Is Traveling

mom and baby talking to dad via facetime on a laptop. Feature image for 5 Ways to Stay Connected When a Family Member Is Traveling

My husband has traveled the entire time we have been married. It was really hard when our son was little, trying to explain when Daddy would be home and trying to keep them connected over the phone was a major struggle. We have learned some helpful tips on how to stay connected when a family member is traveling and how to help little ones better understand when they will be back from their travels.

5 Ways to Stay Connected When a Family Member Is Traveling
1. Defining time with sleeps

When our son was young, I defined the days Daddy would be away with sleeps. Daddy will be home in three sleeps. Since telling him Daddy would be home in four days was less comprehensible than telling him Daddy would be home after he went to bed three times, it worked wonders in helping our (then) young son understand the time his dad was away. Just last week as my husband was packing, I said, “It’s not bad this week; just two sleeps.” Both of us just looked at each other and started laughing.

2. Technology is a blessing

When we were first married, technology wasn’t as advanced as it is today.  We didn’t have video calls, but once those became available, they were a game-changer. We utilize those calls with grandparents and my husband when he travels.

4 Ways to Build a Successful Relationship with Your ChildI’ve been on video calls at sporting events, awards ceremonies and even doctor’s appointments so my husband could feel a part of things and not miss out. Being able to see each other on those occasions gave my husband and son a connection to build off of. When it was just a regular phone, it was hard to understand why Daddy was in the box and it didn’t mean as much to my son. With the introduction of video calling, the experience was vastly improved.

Normally my son wanted to see the hotel my husband was staying in, or he wanted to see the airport and the planes. We still try to have a video chat every day, even if it’s only for a couple of minutes, just to see each other. Some mornings we prop my phone up on the breakfast table and the three of us have breakfast together. Just because he’s in another state doesn’t mean he can’t be part of home life at the same time. 

My husband has been able to video chat with me through fixing things, or seeing what was happening instead of having to go off my descriptions of “that pointy piece” and “that thingamado.” It’s sometimes easier to fix something while he is out of town, rather than having to wait for him to come home when I can show him what is broken. He’s been able to show me the places he’s been or the people he is with and it helps me feel part of his life, too.

He and our son tuned our son’s drag car while my husband was in Canada a couple of weeks ago. Thanks to a video call we all shared, he was able to advise what settings to change in the tune and what adjustments to make to the engine. This allowed us to fix some fueling issues while he was out of town and we didn’t have to wait until the weekend to start working on things.

3. Coffee dates

My husband and I don’t get a lot of time together, even when he is in town. We love our son and make sure to spend as much time with him as possible. In an effort to make sure that we have our own time together to simply catch up with one another and chat about things, we schedule coffee dates.

Those dates are right on our living room couch with coffee after our son is at school. This has helped us both to catch up on the week’s events and get some adult talking time. Whether it is fifteen minutes or an hour, it’s nice to be able to relax together in the comfort of our home and discuss things.

4. Leave notes in their luggage

When we were first married, I always put notes in his luggage (again, this was before technology was big), just to say “I am thinking about you” or that I miss him and hope he has a great day. My son would later do the same and hide them in my husband’s shaving kit to find. It made my husband feel appreciated and loved. Sticky notes work great to stick to his deodorant or on his shoes. The notes are less frequent these days, thanks to being able to text more and send pictures to one another, but I still try to include them as often as I can.

5. Offer grace

When your spouse or parent travels it is hard. It’s hard on all parties. I try to remember that just because my husband is away doesn’t mean he’s got his feet kicked up on the lounge chair at the pool having a mai tai while I’m in the middle of cleaning up who-knows-what mess.

Business travel isn’t as glamorous as people think: never sleeping in your own bed, living out of a suitcase, constantly eating restaurant food, having irregular schedules, and half the time waking up somewhere not knowing where you are because you’ve been in three time zones over the last three weeks. When your traveler comes home, give them a little grace. They are tired and cranky (and I’m guilty sometimes, too!) and just want to be at home with their family.

I stopped trying to go out to eat when he was home; he hasn’t had a home-cooked meal in days, so I make sure to plan to have one of his favorites each time he’s home. When he’s home for a week, he helps me with the meal plans so that everyone gets a little something special. 

These five tips may not always be feasible, but implementing them into our family life has really brought us closer together.  Our marriage is stronger because of them and the relationship between my husband and our son is also better.

Whether you are the weary traveler or the one at home, communication among all parties is key to a successful relationship. Talk to each other about what works and what doesn’t work so adjustments can be made.

Photo by RDNE Stock project

Want more tips to make life a little easier? Check out this podcast episode: Change Your Life with These Tips for Smart Living – 212

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