Last updated on Jun 25th, 2015 at 12:30 pm
Q: My husband works away and the children miss him terribly and our one year old won’t go to him when he does get home. Will it get any easier?
It takes a while for a family to adapt to new circumstances when dad starts to work away from home. You need time to find routines that works for you and that you can stick to.
Children will each have a different understanding of the situation depending on their age. Think about the ages and personalities of your children and the best way to help them individually to deal with what is happening. Some might like to have a routine of counting down the days; similar to an advent calendar to show when dad is coming home. For others there could a different way of keeping track, such as doing a drawing for dad each day. Most importantly, offer praise and encouragement when your children are doing these things.
Talking about the parent who is away every day is important, and with Skype and FaceTime, get the children to talk to their Dad and share what’s happened on a regular basis. This can be very satisfying for children of all ages.
It’s understandable that your baby is unwilling to go to your husband when he first comes home, as the security that comes with familiarity can fade until they are able to spend time with him again. When the family is talking on Skype, include the baby, this will allow the familiarity to carry through the time that your husband is away. Looking at photos and talking about you each day will also help. Be assured that as your baby gets older they will remember him and look forward to his return just as your older children do.
It’s important that, as a family, you recognise the hard work you and your partner are both doing – and that supporting each other is very important. Any frustrations must not be evident to the children. Recognising each other’s stress and tiredness and figuring out ways to reduce these feelings are important. For the parent who works away that could mean early nights to catch up on sleep for the first few days they are back home. The stay-at-home parent most likely needs some time away from the household duties.
You will also need quality time with the children – it doesn’t have to be all that exciting, just create some fun family rituals that make things special. For example, sharing a special meal on the night your husband comes home, such as making pizzas, then watching a movie together.
Organising a babysitter to look after the children while you’re at home together will give you time to reconnect and have fun as a couple. It’s all about finding a balance within what can be quite a hectic schedule.
That’s the WHAT and WHY. For the HOW, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.