Family upon family have gone through the separation of family, for job related reasons. For some it could be college or trainings, others the military, some business meetings. No matter the reason the separation seems so much harder to handle when kids are involved. For us, this separation known well ahead of time, and something we kind of choose. See my hubby had the opportunity to change jobs in the government. With his new job came the knowledge that he would have to go away for 5 weeks to Dallas for training. An awesome adventure for him, but for the rest of us staying at home, um not so much. Knowing that this new job would be better for our family was reason enough to move forward with preparing for the 5 week separation.
Originally his training dates were scheduled for the middle of the summer. Knowing that, I planned lots of adventures for the kids and I to do while he was gone. Things like, visiting my Mom, Niagara Falls and camping. All of which were a lot of fun, by the way, however his training dates were changed to the fall. The kids would be in school and all the fall activities would be in full swing. Instead of the kids seeing Dad leaving as an adventure, now they would just see him leaving as a missing part of their life.
Well this all went down the depressing train pretty quickly, didn’t it. Knowing all this I wanted to try hard and somehow keep him leaving as much of an adventure for the kids as I possibly could. So how was I to do that? I started by telling the kids that they would have the day off from school. That always makes the kids smile. Then I had them sit down with me and plan out a fun day out on the town. See, we live about an hour from almost all major shopping areas. So going to the “Big City”, really is a big deal. Our talk went really well. The kids attitudes changed really quickly from being so sad about Daddy leaving to excited about our fun day out on the town. They did great, planning out our special day.
Day Out on the Town Plans
- Drop Daddy off at the airport.
- Watch his plane take off.
- Go out to the diner for some breakfast.
- Go shopping at the local thrift stores.
- Visit a Trading Cards store.
- Eat lunch at the Big Arches (for the toy of course)
- Spend some time with old friends at a gymnastics center to learn some of the basics of Parkour.
When the day came for Daddy to leave on his trip to Dallas we all got up WAY too early in the morning to bring him to the airport. So early that breakfast was so not even on our minds. If I didn’t have to drive I would have been passed out for the hour drive to the airport. We said goodbye to Daddy and watched him head through security. The airport here is pretty tiny so it didn’t take us long to get to the viewing section. They have nice, large, white rockers to sit in while you watch the planes take off.
Turns out his flight was delayed for who knows what reason. So lucky us got to watch the plane get fueled up, inspected by the pilot, inspected by the crew, loaded with all the baggage and taxied out to the runway. Talk about a tour of what goes into getting a plane off the ground. All the while the kids were all over the place, just being kids. At one point I snapped a picture of our littlest one playing hide and seek behind the pillars, our middle child running down the aisle, and our oldest checking out all the large spiders hanging on the outside of the glass. It’s a good thing there weren’t any others interested in relaxing in the viewing area that early in the morning.
When the plane finally took off we had been at the airport long enough to watch the sun rise. The kids at that point were so glad that it was done so they could leave and get on with our planned, fun day. The rest of our adventurous day went really well. Everyone had a great time with shopping, great food, and friends. All in all I would have to say that the plane being delayed and the kids planning out this special time really helped the kids to process Daddy leaving. They quickly realized that life goes on and we can still have fun even if we wish he was here.
Now on to single-parenting for the next 5 weeks. Have any of you had to go through a similar separation? What did you do to make the time with loved loves away easier on the kids?