When you become a parent, your whole world changes. It becomes a little bigger because now a piece of you is walking around outside of your body. Parenting is a challenging but beautiful lifestyle. And every parent has a different experience with their own children. Not every circumstance looks the same or even looks like parents being able to come home each and every night to their children.
Many parents don’t have the luxury or privilege of being able to come home every night to their children. There are a number of reasons for that, including:
- Military personnel on active duty
- Work in a different city, state, or country
- Consistent work trips away from home
- Educational pursuits
- Remarriage to a new partner
Divorce where one of the parents moves
Though it may seem daunting at times, with a good support system and consistent communication, long-distance parenting is doable. If you’re wondering how you can be the best possible parent while even being far away, keep reading to learn our parenting tips for long-distance parenting!
1. Consistent Communication or Dialogue
With long distance comes challenges. The primary one is that you are not physically there to experience life together in person. This is also where a lot of miscommunication can come in. That’s why having healthy and consistent communication or dialogue is so important!
Communication looks different for each of our relationships. How you communicate with your parents will most likely not be the same way you communicate with your spouse or partner. This is the same for children! Each person or age group has a specific way in which they are able to receive communication and process it.
Explaining to your child why you are not with them every day is an important step. Being clear, precise, and specific about where you’re going and what you’re doing can help your child to feel secure in their relationship with you.
Depending on the age range of your child or children, explaining to them why you are not there can be tricky. If you’re having to do long-distance parenting due to new job placement, you could say to them, “Mommy (and/or Daddy) is having to go to work in a different place than home. I know this will be hard for you not seeing me every day, but know that I have to do this for “x” amount of time. I love you and wish I could be with you every day.”
Consistent communication or dialogue can happen in a multitude of ways. Whether it be over the phone, through a video call, or through handwritten letters, keeping lines of communication open and having the time to talk with your child or children about their day, letting them feel loved and heard, and giving them reassurance of your love back to them will greatly help make long distance parenting less hard.
2. Make a Plan
Making a set, detailed long-distance parenting plan or visitation schedule of when you are going to see your child or children next will not only help them, it will also help you!
Concentrate on creating a safe, stable, and fun environment for your children when you do see them. This will help in developing and maintaining lasting bonds with them that they’ll remember forever.
When you or your children have the next time to look forward to, it will help to make the hard days of long-distance not as bad because they know there is an end in sight. It also creates excitement and anticipation as they wait to see you and give you the biggest bear hug!
Creating a plan to see each other doesn’t have to be elaborate or mean you have to go to Disney World, it just means spending time together. Spending time together can be as simple as watching a movie together, snuggled up with popcorn on the couch, or taking a walk together in the park and feeding the ducks. You can also make it a point to visit on a special occasion, like a birthday.
Whatever you plan, make it memorable by simply spending quality time with them and asking them specific details about their life. They’ll feel loved, seen, and heard, and that’s what matters the most!
3. Team Effort
With long-distance parenting comes a lot of team effort with the other parent. Every situation is different—whether it be you guys are happily married or are separated and working as co-parents, being on the same team is vital, especially in front of the children.
When both parents are on the same page and committed to the children’s safety and well-being, especially in cases of children of divorce, a beautiful team can come from that. Working together to ensure that your children are getting the best care that they need during this time is incredibly important.
Working together as a team can mean a lot of things, such as:
- Keeping scheduled phone calls and video calls at a regular time
- Communicating to each other about when the children’s recitals, soccer games, or debate tournaments are
- Making a list with the child of all the things they want to talk about with the parent that is far away
- Day to day details are still being shared such as doctor and dentist appointments
Make sure that both parents are involved equally in the decision making and day to day mundane tasks with the children so that both the parent that is far away, as well as the child or children, feels as if their long-distance parent is still there, even when they can’t be.
4. Make Communication Fun!
After a while, communication can start to become a routine and can become dull because it’s the same thing over and over again. Don’t give up! There are ways to make communication fun, engaging, and memorable. Social media like Instagram or Facebook may work for older children but is likely not suitable for young kids.
Especially with kids, their attention spans aren’t the best and they can be distracted or uninterested quickly. That’s why keeping them engaged with different types of communication is a great way to ensure better communication! Try any of the following out next time you’re wanting to talk with your children.
Play a Game Over the Phone
Depending on the age of the child/children, you can play iSpy, “Would You Rather?,” Battleship or other grid games, the alphabet game, or anything else that you think would be interactive and fun! You could play online games like card games or board games on the computer together as you chat about each other’s day, or draw each other with acrylic paint, or even stretch your language skills by learning a language together.
You can do this over the phone or over video calls like FaceTime or Zoom. Make a game about asking about their day, telling them to name three things that happened that were great, and three things that happened that weren’t so great. You’ll be able to learn a lot about your child and grow closer to them, even over the phone, and this helps encourage regular communication.
Try Out Lovebox
Wondering how to make communication different, interactive, and fun? The Lovebox is the answer for you!
The Lovebox is the perfect way to communicate for long-distance parenting! You can send personalized notes, photos, or drawings to your children, or they can send them to you! By pairing with their app, the Lovebox will send whatever you choose to the desired person, and the red heart on the front will spin so they know an incoming message is coming in.
The app is very user-friendly, and best of all, it’s free! To view the message you’ve received, all you do is lift the lid on the top of the box and your message, love note, or picture will be shown.
Also, through the app, you can upload photos to send and even draw on the photos themselves. Instead of just texting it, send it through Lovebox to create an interactive experience for your children that is intentional so they know that you’re thinking about them. If your child also has a Lovebox, they can draw cute and funny sketches and send them directly to you. It’s a sure way to brighten your day and your child’s life!
There’s a specialized Lovebox just for parents too! It’s the perfect way for the long distant parent to feel as if they’re receiving a personalized gift or drawing from their child that they miss so much.
So many customers are raving about the Lovebox, one customer even stating, “I bought [the Lovebox] to leave messages for my kids when I travel for work or leave in the morning before they wake up. I’ve ended up using it all the time to drop them quick notes. They love it and get so excited each time a message is received!”
Being far from each other can be hard, but make your communication with each other fun and interactive so you can both smile when you see the heart spinning on your Lovebox, knowing that you have a sweet message to look forward to.
Do an Age-Appropriate Activity Together...Apart
Does your child have a passion for baking? Bake with them! Get all of the necessary ingredients and video call as you bake together. Either make a competition out of it if your child would like that, or take it slow and make the cookies together. When you’re done you can both share cookies together!
Or maybe your child loves playing the piano—play along with them! Get a simple keyboard and play with them. Not only can they practice their piano skills, they’ll also feel close to you as you work to strengthen their skill and listen to them play.
Read a book together or read a bedtime story to them at night over FaceTime, sing a song together like their favorite lullaby, practice spelling together and do a mock spelling bee, watch over video call of their football practice and tell him he’s doing a great job when he comes to say hi— the possibilities are endless! Some video call services can even let you watch a TV show at the same time. Let your creativity go wild and think of ideas that your specific child would love and thrive under. At the end of the day, you know your child best.
Distance Doesn’t Have To Mean Far Away
Though long-distance parenting holds its challenges, they are worth it. But they do require additional work and preparation to be successful in fostering strong bonds between the child and parent.
The hard work may be hard but your children’s lives and well-being are always worth it. By implementing every day life with these four tips, you’ll be able to have a healthy and strong relationship and stay in the loop, even miles away.