Ah..... Silence. Time to myself. Every single one of my children is now asleep. Pure bliss.
One of the toughest parts of Sam leaving on business trips (besides missing him to pieces)
is being alone to respond to four lively, talkative, silly kids who all have a variety of different demands from morning 'til night. So be it. Such is life. And I honestly think I wouldn't have it any other way. Except maybe to always have him home with us.
But since absence makes the heart grow fonder and he really does need to travel for work, here's a few things we do to help us cope.
Create special traditions
- When the kids were small, they'd all pile in bed with me and we'd sleep all snuggled together. When they grew a bit, they "graduated" to my bedroom floor. And now that we've got a fourth child, I banished them all to their bedrooms. But they set up camp on Elena's floor and sleep all together and that helps them deal with their daddy being gone. This fosters a special togetherness between siblings that I just love! And I personally have my little Rémy who keeps me company all night long!
- Papa being away from home means our days have a different rhythm. There is a lot more work for Mama and subsequently for my children who are asked to pitch in a bit more, but days are somehow less structured as well. I try to take advantage of those moments to do something a little different with the kids. It gets us out of the house, we feel Papa's absence less, and the change of scenery lifts our spirits. A few days ago, I took my girls to get their hair done at the beauty salon so they can surprise their Papounet when he gets home. They were tickled pink. And yesterday instead of heading straight home to make dinner, we made a spontaneous trip to the park after school. (Sunny weather helps!) The kids enjoyed some fresh air and exercise and nobody complained when I opened up a can of chili con carne for dinner.
Deal kindly with emotions
- You never quite know how your children will react to their Papa's absence. Sometimes it doesn't seem to faze them and other times it can cause an unexpected flood of tears. And then there is everything in between! Observe your children and help them deal with their emotions. And if one is having a meltdown, by golly, set everything aside and comfort him or her. We were late to church on Sunday because my Gabi was so so sad to see her Papounet leave. Lots of hugs and encouragement and then I took the time to help her get ready. Little things, but by the time we got to church she was okay. Oh, and don't forget the baby! Even a baby can feel that things are not quite the same. Talk to your baby, explain that his daddy is gone for a few days, and give him lots of extra snuggles (not hard to do!). And finally, don't forget to be a little kinder with yourself! You've got a heavier load on your shoulders, and you miss him too!
- Let them hear you say what you love about their Papa. And let them see you miss him. Be strong for them, and for sure don't let yourself start crying when they cry (like I wanted to do when Gabi was so sad!), but it's good for them to see how much you miss their daddy. It's a powerful witness of the love you share. A love that makes them feel secure even in his absence.
- Let them tell you what they love about their Papa. At the dinner table, for example. As they name qualities that they love and miss in him, they will learn to love him even more! And you might just be surprised at some of the things they love about him. At the same time, the qualities they admire can teach you so much about who your children are and what they need. The number one thing my kids miss about their Papa is how much livelier dinner is with him. I'm always just worried about getting dinner on the table and the kids to bed on time! But I'm learning to let them giggle a little more, chat a little longer and even be silly because I have learned this is one of the things they love and need! (Even if it is the end of the day and I am dead tired!)
- In this wonderful world of technology, a loved one separated by miles and oceans or continents is suddenly brought back into close proximity by the touch of few buttons, even if it is just temporary, and hugging is, unfortunately, not possible! The kids know that we try to set up a skype date every single day and they look forward to that! Now they are not big talkers, they're just kids you know, but just knowing that their mom and dad are talking to each other is comforting to them. And the possibility to smile coyly at Papa or make a few silly faces or just hear his voice and see his face is wonderful for them. And a lifeline for this Mama! I LOVE Skype! Being able to see him makes his absence that much easier to bear.
- Plan something special for when he comes back home. A special dinner, a movie night or a Saturday outing. Add to the specialness of being all back together with something that will let him know how much he was missed and that gives everyone something exciting to look forward to!
We miss you Papounet!
Hurry back home!
What about you?
Do you have any special things you do to help you cope when a member of the family goes out of town?
Please tell, I'd love to know!
Hope you are all well!
Hugs and kisses,
-The Paris Busy Bee