away. For younger children, create a paper
chain. They can cut a ring off the chain for
each day you’re away, with the last ring marking your return.
Costco member Haisley Smith, director of
marketing for Brownell Travel and a mom of
two, ages 7 and 6 months, travels internationally from her home in Birmingham, Alabama,
throughout the year. A few nights before a
trip, she and her oldest daughter browse
You Tube videos of her destination and her
hotel. “We’ll also pick out outfits for her in
advance because she doesn’t want to leave that
to her daddy!”
Sharron Saunders, mom of two, ages 4 and
6, and a public relations professional with
Oakwood Worldwide in Gaithersburg,
By Christa Melnyk Hines
FOR THE PARENT who travels for business,
nothing feeds guilt like a long goodbye with a
sobbing child wrapped around his or her
leg. Traveling away from the comforts and
relative predictability of home can be stressful
enough, but factor in a child’s anxiety and life
“up in the air” can seem downright painful.
“When we feel guilty, our stress level tends
to go up. And when our stress level is high, we
tend to be more short-tempered with our children, have problems sleeping, have problems
focusing. None of that is good for you or
your children,” says Costco member Dr.
Elizabeth Lombardo, a psychologist, physical
therapist and author in Lake Forest, Illinois.
Road warrior David Kolner, a senior vice
president for Virtuoso, a corporate travel
agency, has traveled to five continents in the
last two years. The Seattle resident says his
sons, ages 4 and 5, struggle with his absences
in varying degrees.
“This morning my older son tried to hide
my suitcase and said he wanted to talk to my
boss to ‘know why Papa has to go on this trip,’ ”
says Kolner, a Costco member.
Rather than stewing in guilt, parents can
take creative steps to ease the sting of separation.
Prepare for departure
Surprising your child with a trip can
fuel anxiety. “Let your child know before
you leave and when you are coming home,”
Point out your destination on a map and
use a calendar to mark the days you will be
Maryland, travels a week each month. The
Costco member documents her travels through
short videos and emails them to her kids.
“For example, I went to Seattle, where I
Souvenirs and gifts
took a video from the top of the Space
Needle,” she says. “They love it so much I
often catch them playing the videos when I
am home again.”
Ask your family to do the same for you,
especially if you will miss an important event
such as your child’s soccer match or choir per-
formance. “You and your child can relive it
when you return,” Lombardo says.
Many parents bring souvenirs home to
give their kids a taste of their travels. Smith’s
daughter recently shared Turkish delight from
Istanbul with her classmates during show-and-tell.
“This gives her something to look forward
to and also adds an educational component,”
Smith says. “During times of stress and guilt, I
remember how much she gains, even if she’s
not with me.”
Costco member Vickie Evans, a mom of
two, ages 7 and 10, is often on the road for
her speaking and training business, Red Cape
Company in Austin, Texas. She purchases small
stuffed animals for each of her sons at the
beginning of her trip and takes pictures of them
at her hotel or buckled up in an airline seat.
“The gifts became more like characters on
the trip than just a souvenir, which was more
meaningful to them,” she says.
Olathe, Kansas, resident Travis Allen, a
Costco member and healthcare management
consultant with Accenture, zigzags across the
country every week. He says phone technology makes linking to his 6-year-old daughter
easy and fun. They exchange texts on her iPod
touch and talk using Face Time.
“She likes to send me silly pictures and
sometimes she’ll text, ‘I love you, Dad—
Amelia,’ ” he says, smiling.
While his departures are sometimes
bumpy for his kids, Kolner finds that down-playing his return makes leaving easier. “Instead
we try and tie my return to a family event, like
going out to dinner,” he says. “Of course, my
partner and kids are happy for me to take on all
rituals on return—baths, park trips, bedtime
stories—which is a fair trade-off!” C
Costco member Christa Melnyk Hines is a freelance journalist and author. She and her road-warrior husband are the parents of two boys,
ages 6 and 8.
R Y Guilt trip?
Ease the pain of separation
• Plan a movie or game night.
• Schedule a family outing.
• Take your kids to breakfast.
• Look through your kids’ school
• Work on a project together,
such as a puzzle or model car.