As many of you know, I am currently overseas in Australia. As a divorced parent, I share equal custody with my ex husband. This has been my first chunk of time away from my children and it has not been easy for me. I do everything I can on the daily to stay active as a parent and keep my kids loved, balanced and entertained. I think it’s extremely important for parents who travel frequently to make as much of an effort as possible to ensure the needs of their children are being met.
Here are a few ways I keep in touch with my children while I am away from them
Skype: this is the obvious one, but I call my kids twice a day on average (at least one long chat daily). I text/call them as soon as they wake up to say good morning. Sometimes if I’m running on fumes I will let them know that I need some sleep and will text them as soon as I wake up. This has not been an issue at all. We enjoy video chats, texting silly photos, family friendly memes and a ton of kittens dressed up in costumes.
Sometimes we simply have our video chat on while doing our normal tasks. I’ll work on deadlines and they’ll draw while we have our webcams on.
Share a Meal: You can arrange at least once a week to share the same meal with your children. If their caretaker is cooperative, you can ask them to prepare something simple for them, or you can try a new simple recipe together. This helps keep things normal. If I know my kids are going to have Subway, I like to get Subway too! They had burritos for lunch, so I had some for dinner. It makes for fun conversation and helps you stay connected.
Video Games: If you are not a gamer, you can at least watch your kids play their favorite game, or opt for a family-friendly puzzle game online. PlayStation 4 has a party feature, and so does the Wii-U and Steam where you can stream and share the experience together. My children and I are all gamers, so we bond over certain titles and it’s fun when you can play video games together or watch each other play.
Rabb.it: Rabbit is an AMAZING site one of my good friends told me about. My gaming friends and I enjoy movie nights sometimes, and you can take turns choosing what to watch on Netflix, Hulu, Crunchyroll etc. My kids and I watched cartoons this evening while taking advantage of the video/voice/text chat features of the website. It’s free and super simple to use. I was even able to explain to them how to use it over a Skype call. We can spend hours together watching our favorite cartoons without burning them out with repetitive phone calls asking the same mundane questions.
Care Packages: I will be heading back to the United States in a few short weeks and bringing the kids back with me to Australia and I am extremely excited. In the meantime, I have been sending care packages and small gifts. Be sure to communicate with their other parent/guardian about this and don’t send gifts to compensate for your departure.
I like sending snacks from the country I am in, and an occasional small gift from Amazon since I am a Prime member, I can have a packaged shipped to their other residence within 2 days and even gift wrap it! It’s been a fantastic and fun feeling watching them via video enjoy the surprises they receive.
Homework Help: My kids are home schooled. Being little world travelers it comes in super handy. Even though I am not physically there, I still offer assistance with their studies and ask them what they’re learning, what chapter they’re reading in said book, and I send them science and history tutorials from YouTube relative to what they are learning or what they’d like to learn. If your little ones are struggling in math, create a video tutorial yourself for them!
Secret Letters: Before I departed the U.S., I left my children secret hand written letters in their journals, back packs and closet. Some heartfelt, others sweet and positive. This is such a nice surprise for kids since children love receiving letters. You can also send them a postcard overseas as well!
I hope this advice helps you stay in contact with your children while you’re abroad. It’s very difficult to be away from your kids. I am extremely close to mine and love them not only as my children but respect them as individuals and admire their character. I do all I can to make sure I am still an active parent throughout the day and night. We are lucky to have the technology we have today in order to not only stay in contact, but share quality time together.