When he is around, my husband is a very hands-on dad. He has changed dozens of diapers, given baths, and gotten involved in the potty training. But, like many dads, he sometimes has to be away for work—often weeks or months at a time.
This is great for someone like me who needs personal space, and whenever he comes back, it’s like having more honeymoons or dating again. We have new stuff to talk about and keep things exciting. But for the kids, it’s a different story. Parenting must be a teamwork effort; you want to be ever-present in their lives; you need the bonding and the actual time spent together.
Nowadays, keeping in touch is easy. The internet connects us wherever in the world we happen to be. But sometimes, even that can get impersonal.
So we connect in other ways…
One more common, traditional one is the posted letter. It’s fun to write handwritten letters to family and friends. Karsten enjoys decorating the envelopes, sealing them with stickers, and accompanying me to the post office to send them off.
We have also started recording bedtime stories for him. We are raising bi-lingual kids, so it’s important that they don’t forget either language if one of us happens to be away, if there’s a lack of practice.
I use Audacity, a free audio recording program. You can record and save your voice files, and then email them easily to each other. Karsten favors Aesop’s Fables right now, and I am obliged to read him “The Thirsty Crow” every single night. Of course, nothing can really take the place of actually being there and reading stories together; it’s a different dynamic.
But in cases when you wish you could multiply yourself to get some extra work done, try pre-recording the stories. He will sometimes fall asleep on his own, listening to my proxy (my own voice) reading them. While in Italy, John started also recording stories in German for him. So Karsten gets to choose between “Bedtime stories with dad or bedtime stories with mom.” It’s a nice solution to long-distance parenting dilemmas.
What about your family? What little things do you do to keep in touch, if you have to be apart for whatever reason? Do you have any special traditions, activities, or tricks to keeping the kids close even though you are far away? I need some suggestions!