Thursday, February 26, 2009

Counting days

Like everybody else in this business, Boyfriend and I have to travel a lot; conferences, workshops, seminars, observing runs... Within a reasonable limit, we have tried not to let the fact that we have a child change that too much. Of course I didn't travel in the first few months, and there's the occasional heartache of missing some important milestones that goes with this. But overall it's been going well. I think part of the key to that was to get Chatton used from the start that maman and papa were going to be away from home sometimes. He's never made a fuss about it, and actually behaves extra-nicely with the one parent that stays behind to take care of him!

But now that he's older, he started missing us more and more when we are gone. I'm surprised by this, I thought if there would have been problems, they would have come up when he was smaller. It's not really a problem, he's still mostly as happy as usual when one of us is gone, but he mentions often (especially at night) that he misses us.

So we have come up with a trick to help him with that. Whenever one of us travels for more than a couple of days, we take a large piece of paper and make a calendar for Chatton, with one blank box for every day that Boyfriend or I are gone from home. Then each morning he gets to draw a picture in that day's box. This way he sees clearly how much time has gone and how soon the missing parent is coming home. Since time is a vague concept for young children, we find that this helps him a lot to keep track of what is going on. He can see that there are still X days left, so he's not asking us and himself all the time "when is mummy/daddy coming back?". Being aware of what is going on seems to make him feel more secure about the whole thing. Of course there's also iChat or Skype to keep in touch, much better than just the phone for small kids.

I was just away for almost three weeks on a work trip (the longest either one of us has been away from home since Chatton was born), and though he obviously missed me, everything went very well. He even found an idea for an Astronomy-related thing to draw each day on his calendar, so I now have this really cool set of drawings for my office wall!

If anybody has other tricks or ideas of things to do to make being away from home easier on the little ones, please share!

1 comment:

Astronomum said...

What a great idea. I wish we lived closer together so I could get more of these parenting tips from you. I think my little one is just old enough to do this too - so we'll try it on the next trip.

I don't think I could do 3 weeks though. I'm still in a phase of trying to get home as quickly as possible, even with slightly crazy travel plans.... My 5 days in Australia last year still takes the cake!