You don’t have to live right next to your kids to be involved. Stay involved in your kids lives with these great tips for long distance parenting!
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Ever since my ex-husband and I had gotten divorced we always lived less than a mile apart. It was such a blessing for the kids. After school, if they felt like coming over to get help from me with homework they would just ride their bike or walk. If they felt like seeing if their dad was home to play baseball with them they would do the same. It allowed us to be at all their school events, sports, and equally involved in their school life. When a family vacation came up, we would both make arrangements to the schedule so they could always attend and bond with their family. This all changed 2 ½ years ago when my husband got transferred 1800 miles away.
After much discussion, we decided that the boys would move with me to Texas and visit their Dad on all their breaks from school. With this being said it was a huge change for the kids, but we have discovered long-distance parenting tips to still be involved in the boy’s lives when they are away from us!
Frequent Phone Calls/ Facetime Calls
When we talk about frequency this could mean a variety of things, to some it might be once a week, to others it might be a couple times a week, and to some, it might mean every other day. These phone calls are meant to encourage and be upbeat; it is not a time to profess how much you miss them and wish they were with you! That just will make them sad. Talk about the things happening in school, sports, and other activities going on in their lives. Make this a meaningful time. If your kids struggle afterward, being sad and missing you, perhaps try to call more often or less often by trial and error to see what works best for each child. #1 and I talk about every other day. He loves to call and tell me what is happening and find out what is going on here. It works for him. With #2 we usually talk once a week because he tends to become a little sad after talking. Let me make the point that I don’t love #1 more than #2, but we do what works for them. My husband talks to #3 at least once a week. This is what works for the kids because we have to remember it is about the kids, not you!
I know people wondered why our kids had electronics so young, but as we were long distance parenting, it was the best way to keep in touch with their dad when they were here, and me when they were gone. Texting has allowed us to send pictures back and forth, ask questions, play games with each other, send videos back and forth and just talk to one another without picking up the phone. The boys love to text random things to us just to say hi. I tend to be an over-texter so they know I am thinking about them.
Everybody loves mail, especially kids! When the boys are gone for just a week on their shorter breaks I don’t usually send anything, but at least once during the summer, I will send them a care package. The package usually includes homemade cookies, sometimes candy
, a love note
from mom, because everybody needs a love note :), and pictures drawn by the littles. It is hard to be away, so a little piece of home is always helpful! I literally spend more on shipping the box than I do on what’s inside of it! This could be as simple as a postcard or a note. Anything that says, “hey I’m thinking about you!”
Remember Special Events
Did your child have a big test today, or play in his football game? How did their baseball tournament go? Did they make the school play they were auditioning for? How was their band competition last night? When we as parents remember these things and ask about them our kids feel even more loved! Every year the boys go to Lake Powell with their dad. I always ask them to send pictures and videos of their trip because I know how special it is to them. Sure, sometimes their dad is in the picture and I will be honest it used to annoy me, but now I am grateful that they are having fun with him and feel comfortable enough to send that picture to me. Remember, it is all about the kids!
Find Common Interests While they are away
Did they go see the newest movie at the theatre? Are they going to watch the World Series? Are they going to the football game that will be on TV? Go watch the movie at the theatre, watch the world series even if you hate baseball, and look for them on TV during the football game. Doing these things will give you more to talk about. Finding common interests with kids is the key to breaking down the walls that they tend to build.
Let them Take Something to the other Parent’s House
Does your child adore something of yours that you can live without? Maybe there is something that they have at your house that they love. Let them take it with them. It provides them with a little piece of you while they are not with you.
Go See Them!
Yes, I know it’s hard to make arrangements and to take time off of work, but if you are able to go, go! Go see where they live, see their school, watch them do something special to them! This will create a bond
of love between you and your child that speaks volumes saying that you care!
What would you add to this list to strengthen your bond with your child when you are long distance parenting?
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Michele is a Family Life Educator. She is a mom to 5 kids and loves helping others strengthen their families! When she is not blogging she is spending time with her family and running around drinking Diet Coke trying to get everything done!