The Best Ways To Comfort Your Child When Your Pilot Is Away
No matter their age, children will, at times, need a little something to help them cope with their parent's absences. There are lots of different ideas and products designed to help with exactly this. As parents to two young children, my pilot and I have tried a variety of different ways to help comfort them when they're missing Daddy.
I've also collated lots of suggestions from other aviation families as well and come up with a list of products and ideas designed especially to help provide comfort for your kids when they're missing an absent parent.
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Books about a parent or loved one being away can help children feel less alone, as well as come up with strategies to help them cope with the absence better. There are also some of these products which allow you to record your own voice on the book for the child to listen to.
Countdown 'til Daddy Comes Home is the story of a young boy waiting for his daddy to come home from a trip. To make their separation easier, his family creates rituals to stay connected and make the countdown fly by. It also includes ideas on various ways to countdown 'til your daddy comes home and discussion questions to set expectations and alleviate any fears your child may have.
Daddy, Will You Miss Me? is about a young boy whose Dad is often away on business trips. It helps children to understand that even though the Daddy is away, he still loves and misses his children.
All The Ways I Love You is a gorgeous story about how much a parent loves their child. You can record your voice for every page so you can read the story or leave other messages as well.
Books like this not only help the child feel closer to the parent who's absent but can also allow the parent at home to have some time off while the other parent "reads" a story. This is invaluable at times like bedtime when you're trying to settle a younger child and need something to entertain the older children.
If you have a little one, Daniel Tiger's "Grown-Ups Come Back" song might help them understand that Mummy or Daddy will be home again soon.
There are a number of different dolls and teddies that can help you child feel closer to someone they're missing.
Daddy Dolls and Wish You Were Here Dolls are stuffed toys with an image of a person on one side and patterned fabric or a second image on the other side.
My Comfort Bear is a gorgeous, soft teddy which containers a recording device. You can easily record messages or even a story for your child and they can play it back when they want to hear from you. The recording can be up to 5 minutes long.
A talented pilot wife, Allison, crochets dolls to the likeness of your pilot.
All you need to do is send her a couple of photos of your pilot and she will work her magic. You can order on her Facebook page here.
As these are handmade, please be aware that orders can fill up quickly at times.
It can be hard for children to comprehend the passage of time. Especially if your pilot is away for a longer period of time, but even for short trips, a physical countdown can help your child see and understand that the time for their parent to return home is getting closer.
Fill a jar with some kind of lolly or candy for the number of days Daddy will be gone. If you have more than one child, make sure you factor that in when counting how much you need. Let the kids have one each day until the jar is empty and Daddy is home!
If you prefer to steer clear of sweet things, a paper chain countdown could work as well.
Give Them Something Special That Belongs to Your Pilot
Having something to help them feel closer to the parent who's away can help, especially at bedtime. Save a couple of t-shirts from the wash and let the kids sleep with them or even wear them to bed.
Leave Love Letters
One of the hardest things about a parent being away for a period of time is that kids find it difficult to remember all the exciting and important events that happened while that parent was absent. Of course you can share on a phone call but it's not the same as face to face.
Help kids draw pictures, write letters or even choose special treasures from their daily adventure and save them up for when Mum or Dad is home and they can talk them through all the stories.
Keeping Track Of Your Pilot's Travels
Having something tangible like a map or a globe to help your child see where the parent is when they're travelling can help them better understand where their parent is. As the child gets older, they often enjoy learning about the countries or cities where you're travelling to.
LovetoArtCo on Etsy have a gorgeous range of maps to choose from. They can send it to you already printed or you can just buy a download and print it yourself.
If you want to try something a little more old fashioned, write your children a postcard from different cities you visit. Add a little bit on the card about the types of things you can do in that city. File them away and when you're visiting that city in the future, they can look up those cards and see what kind of adventures you may be having!
As lovely as recorded messages and pictures and letter are, it's hard to beat a live chat with your loved one.
It can be hard to coordinate time zones at times but if possible, using a video chat service such as FaceTime, Skype or Facebook Messenger can be a powerful tool. Use it to read stories, prop Daddy up at the dinner table or share special events. Make sure you have a good data plan so you're not racking up extra charges while you're catching up.
The Last Thing You Need To Know About How To Comfort Your Kids When Your Pilot is Away.
Just when you think you have it all figured out, something that's worked beautifully for ages will suddenly be less effective. Be prepared to have a few tricks up your sleeve that you can try out as needed to help your kids best manage when Mum or Dad is away.
Are there any that I'm missing? What works best in your house? I'd love you to share in the comments below and help out your fellow aviation families.
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