Ask any working parent and they’ll no doubt tell you they haven’t yet mastered the work life balance. Most jobs allow workers to down tools at the end of the day and return back home to see their families. But there are some jobs that involve travel, long hours, and sometimes even having to relocate, with one parent perhaps only traveling back for the weekend or to sometimes be away for weeks or months at a time. It’s hard enough trying to strike the right work life balance at the best of times, but imagine how much harder it is for those families that are separated for longer periods of time.
In this article we are going to look at a few of the different ways that families can help children in particular adjust to this way of life and also explore the ways in which all family members can stay connected despite the physical distance between them.
Kids Are Tougher Than You Think
One thing we need to get straight is that kids are highly adaptable beings and often we as parents worry far more about how things are going to affect them than the kids do themselves. That being said, it’s not going to be easy if they have had both parents at home for all of their lives, kids aren’t so keen on change and it may rock their world for a little while.
It’s important to be open with your children and talk to them about what’s happening as well as to reassure them that both of you will still be there for them, no matter what. You will need to tailor this conversation to suit the age of the child, so for example toddlers who have far less of a grip on the duration of time – 5 minutes is a long time to them so telling them they won’t see mummy or daddy for a week or more could be disastrous – should be handled in a completely different way to a teenager who will want hard and fast facts and reassurance that this is just a work thing and not as a result of a failing relationship – teens like to dramatize everything! This website is a great resource for offering advice to parents who travel for work.
Get Them Involved In The Move
Some companies have an accommodation budget and depending on the duration and distance away from home they may suggest a rental property rather than a hotel room. This could actually be a much nicer option as it allows you to make a second home for yourself where you can have your own personal belongings with you and to help give it that home away from home vibe.
If this is the case it would be good to get the kids involved in your move so that they can see where you’ll be living. Ideally you should take them to visit your ‘work’ house, however this may not be possible if it’s a really long way away and so an alternative would be for you to take them on a virtual tour. You could of course do this the usual way by taking a walking tour with your phone camera or you could make it super fun and take a video using a camera attached to a drone and take them on a flying tour of your new place. If you’ve never flown a drone before you might be advised to click here to learn some of the basics so you don’t end up causing any damage to the property.
There’s nothing young kids like more than the chance to play with cardboard boxes and you’ll need a few of them when it comes to preparing for the move. Make sure you get more than you need and let the kids make forts or cardboard cars out of them while you pack away the essential things you need to take with you. You may want to enlist the help of a professional removal company, or if you’re lucky your employer may include that as part of your package, and they’re bound to have plenty of spare cardboard boxes. It’s recommended to learn more about the benefits of using a removal company versus packing items yourself, as this could potentially be a stressful time for all of you and we’re sure you’d much rather be spending time with your family than bubble wrapping your photo frames. Just remember to ask your children to choose one of their personal belongings that you can take with you to not only give you something to remember them by but also to show them that you will be returning.
Schedule Regular Catch Ups
And finally, although you might not physically be with your family there is nothing stopping you from being with them virtually. It is really important to keep in regular contact either through phone calls or through video messages or live catch ups over Zoom. Sit down with your partner at the beginning of the month and schedule times that fit in with school, bedtimes etc. so that you don’t miss out on what each other is doing. Also remember to make time to have calls with just the two of you as well, as it is just as important to keep this connection alive as it is with the rest of the family.
Holidays become even more important when you work away from home, so plan ahead and get things booked in so that you all have something to look forward to. And remember sometimes it’s the little things that mean the most. Send a letter or postcard to them, or arrange for a surprise gift to be delivered every now and again. Any small gesture that shows them that despite you being miles from home, you are still very much with them.
Getting the right work life balance is hard and as parents we constantly feel guilty that we aren’t spending enough time with our children. However, it is also important that our children see how hard we work and that life isn’t always easy and that sometimes compromises have to be made. As long as each and every one of you takes the time to stay connected you can make it work and find a work life balance that is right for you all.