Sometimes careers have us away from home more than we want. Others, like myself, may be divorced AND live far away (a very difficult combination).
Over the past 3 years I have been focused on nurturing the relationship with my son in NYC. It has been tough, but it also has been very fulfilling. We have a great relationship and we talk multiple times a week. It seems to be working as he loves talking to me, his baby brothers and even saves his toys and clothes to share with them as he grows out of them.
So here are 10 tips that have helped me stay connected with my son – even from 3,000 miles away.
- Coordinate with the other parent/guardian: His mother and I agreed that protecting the father/son relationship was important. Figure out a schedule that works, maybe 2X a week right before bedtime, and when you connect – focus on your child completely.
- Play peek a boo or hide and seek: Simple, cover the camera lens and say, “where’s daddy?” slowly move your finger and peek from under your shadow. Sort of like a picture with a thumb over the lens. He loves it and still cracks up at 5, he now takes his turns and covers up the camera.
- Texting games: I send him messages and emoticons while we Skype and he is challenged to replicate them on his side. Clearly a big bonus – the boy is learning how to type! Sometimes I even tell stories using the Skype Emoticons. They are awesome, there is a teddy bear, a squirrel, pizza and a ninja – a great combo for an exciting tale!
- Asking questions: My favorites are, what did you learn today? Did you do any drawings? Show me that toy over there – how do you play with it? What are you going to do tomorrow? etc.
- Surprise Gifts/Gift Reserve: keep a running tab of items that he needs, or loves and send them randomly. Work with the other parent/guardian to give gifts on your behalf to reward good news. For example, your child gets an “A” on a test – they can grab a gift from the daddy box and you can reward your child on the spot – as if you were there. Even better – do it while you Skype! it’s like magic!
- Sharing your life: He is not sheltered from any area of my life. I tell him what I did, we Skype on my phone while I commute home, he gets to see my office via Skype. He can Skype me, call me whenever he wants (parent/guardian permitting).
- Teaching: I sing the alphabet to him, count with him, let him brag to me about all the stuff he knows and learned in his little sweet life. Using screen sharing we can look at maps, and see where daddy is and where he is. We even read books together!
- Plan visits: We talk about what we’ll do the next time we will hang out. Which zoo we will go to, the ball game we’ll see, the games we’ll play – what he needs to pack. I love dreaming with him and hearing everything he wants to do on our next visit.
- Make the effort: Men, I speak to you because typically we are the one’s who aren’t there. We need to take advantage of any chance we can to connect with our children. Even if it is only 15 minutes, your child will get many benefits from knowing that you care about them, Don’t give up your responsibility to be present in your child’s life as much as you can. You definitely need a partner that will work with you. But have you attempted? Have you ever said that your relationship with your child matters to you tremendously? Have you offered to buy a computer or webcam so you can enable this?
- Use technology: Do not let distance be the reason why you are distant. With today’s technology you can see your child face-to-face regardless of where you are. If you haven’t tried Skype for your communication, I recommend it – it is free and very easy to use. It is also available over mobile devices. You can get it here: http://www.skype.com/en/
Are you a travelling parent? Or distant parent? What do you do to stay connected? Share below!
Does this resonate with you – get to know us and come out to the Bay Area for our first family day event with the Oakland A’s on June 1st!