How to Keep Families Connected with a Traveling Dad

Posted by on Sep 17, 2015 in Featured, LeTravelista, Portfolio | 3 comments

How to Keep Families Connected with a Traveling Dad

It’s that time of year again when my husband’s traveling commitments increase from the regular 30% of the time to closer to 70%. Typically, I fall into running around like a crazy woman managing our four children. I greatly depend on the village of friends around me to help, and I stay up until late hours in the night trying to get everything done. I do my best not to complain, but I know I often fail.

Today, as I sit here and think about this fall and how I might make things easier on myself, I also can’t help but think about all the sacrifices my husband makes when he is away. He misses out on our family dinner times, which is the one time of day we all make time to be together. He misses the crazy teenage conversations that take place during dinner time, that include anything from what teens find funny to serious things they dealt with during the day. Did you know if you say cucumber up to the sky when you can’t seem to sneeze, it will help? Yeah, me neither. He misses activities and sporting events. To say the least, he misses a lot, and that made me realize that I may be super busy, but I am incredibly lucky to get to enjoy all of this precious time with our children.

The kids are growing up fast, and although it seems like yesterday they were learning how to ride bikes and starting school, today we no longer have any elementary school, kids. In fact, in just a couple of years, they will be on their own. I can’t imagine missing any of this time with them, and I am so thankful I don’t have to.

So the question I need to ask is “How do we keep families connected with a traveling dad?” No dad should have to miss out on these moments (especially whispers of cucumbers into the sky), even when he has to be away.

Make Time at Home Count

I was reading a Dear Abbey the other day where a lady was so disappointed in her family dinner. She had invited her children and grandchildren over for dinner, and the entire time they were there they were consumed with their cell phones. Instead of putting their electronics aside for the hour and having a conversation with loved ones, they focused on their games, texts, and emails. She was so disheartened by the situation that she didn’t think she would bother to ask them over again anytime soon.

What’s the lesson here? Make your time together count.

Dinner time is our time as a family. Even though we are all running in opposite directions (well they are all running in opposite directions while I chase after them) we do our very best to come together at dinner time. The actual time we have dinner changes from night to night based on all of our activities, but we make it a priority to try and have everyone home and together at that time. And when my husband is getting ready to leave town, the dinner the night before he leaves is the most important.

Maybe you all have breakfast together, or you visit after school, but no matter what time it is make that time together count.

Find the Time Connect

It doesn’t matter how far away my husband is or how many time zones away he may be, finding time to connect during the day is necessary. One dad, I know who regularly travels makes sure that every night at 9 pm (his families time) he is on the phone saying goodnight and ending their day with him. Although I don’t think you necessarily need to have a set time (especially when you have older kids) it is important that everyone in the family gets time to talk with dad daily.

For our family, finding time usually comes in the evening, but it may come at various different times for each of us. For example, I often find myself sitting on the couch FaceTiming my hubby. Two or three of the kids may be home and come in and visit with us, but the one or two that aren’t home will call their dad when they get a chance. Another common scenario is the younger two calling him to say goodnight before they crawl into bed, even if they have talked to him earlier during the day. These are special moments that all dads home and away deserve to have.

Face to Face is Always Best

From Skype to FaceTime there are so many options today for being able to video chat with your loved ones, so take advantage of this when the dad is away. There is something so much more personal about seeing someone when you talk to them. You don’t just hear the words, you see their expressions and can look into their eyes. It may sound incredibly simple or like a cliche to video chat, but connecting this way is an easy way for everyone to feel a bit closer.

When my husband is home, we always start our day out having coffee together in the living room. Kids may be running around us getting ready for school, but we sit and enjoy our time before the chaos of the day begins. So when he is away, I love more than anything getting to do the same thing with him via FaceTime. No, he can’t lean over and kiss me, but he can still tell me about his impending day and share with me the crazy email he got in the night. Or hold up the newspaper and say “did you see this?” It is simple and silly, but it makes me feel closer to him when he is away.

Share the Destination

You are probably thinking I am suggestions that dads pick up souvenirs for their families every time they are away, and NO that is not what I am suggesting. Not at all. What I am saying is for dads to share their destination by texting pictures, or FaceTiming when they are out exploring new cities. Maybe swing by the local college and grab a brochure to bring home to your future college students. Instead of just looking at something and saying “wow that is something my family would like,” find a way to share it with them and make them feel as if they traveled too.

Dads need to feel connected, but families need to feel that way too. It is amazing how a simple picture can make a child feel special, and like dad is thinking about them when he is away. These are feelings that no souvenir can ever replace.

Thank you to all the hard working dads out there. You may not always be at your families side, but if everyone makes an effort you can all say connected.

I know that we are not the only family that has to manage life with a traveling dad, and I would love to hear your ideas on how to stay connected. Post your ideas and share your stories. You may think they are obvious, but to others your ideas may inspire something new.

 

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3 Comments

  1. 9-21-2015

    Maybe your special family time is you and your husband . . . or maybe it’s a passel of children and grandkids. No matter the size of the gathering, the fanciness of your table, or the spot on the calendar, establishing time together with people you love is worth the investment.

  2. 4-17-2016

    hi, Carrie!

    just wanted to tell you that i love your website & work – i think you should write about keeping your marriage and romance alive with a traveling husband who’s away a lot. how do you deal with that, how do you stay connected? how do you keep from NOT drifting apart? sorry if you already did write about it, i just discovered your site so still didn’t find it.

    anywho, nice job! best wishes from Europe,
    Hana

    • 9-3-2017

      Hi Hana,

      I have written about this topic some, but I thank you for the request. I will see what I can come up with and post in the next couple of weeks for you.

      Best, Carrie

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