Are you a road warrior dad? Do you often feel like you are missing out on key parts of your son’s or daughter’s childhood? If so, NinjaDads and this blog should help!
Last year was rough. I spent 250,000 flying miles and over 100 nights on the road. Add in my family travel, and I think I spend about 120 nights total in my own home.
Every time I head out, it takes a toll on my family and on me. I wish I had the perfect answer, but I don’t. All I have are some ideas that marginally improve the constant separation.
Here are NinjaDad’s top ten ideas to connect with your kids while on the road:
- Facetime or Video Call
- Send an email
- Drop in on Alexa
- Send them something to their school
- Virtual Reality Headset – play a game
- Watch a TV show together on speaker phone
- Record a video for them
- Read them a chapter of a book
- Leave a treasure hunt for them
- Leave a project for your kid
1. Facetime or video call
Don’t just phone home! Use facetime, skype, or some sort of video call. Video makes a huge difference in connecting with your kids.
First, it forces both people to pay attention and not be distracted with other things. Second, seeing your face while hearing your voice activates two senses instead of just one.
Bonus: you get to make funny faces at each other, which somehow never gets old.
2. Send an email
You might not always enough time to call home during your trip. Sometimes your kids might be at a sleepover, or you might not get back to your hotel until after they’ve already gone to bed.
Take few moments to jot down a few things you miss about them, a few things your proud of, and a few things you are looking forward to doing with them in the future.
3. Drop in on Alexa
One of my favorite aspects of today’s connected world is a drop-in call during dinner. If I time it right, my family will be sitting down to dinner, and a drop-in from dad on Alexa allows me to join the normal evening conversation.
It also works in reverse: a few months ago, my phone rang, and my caller ID said it was from “Kirk home.” This was odd, as we don’t have a landline.
When I answered, it was my son Jasper. I asked how he called, and he said he just told Alexa to call dad. Crazy. Either way—knowing that I am just a voice request away helps keep us connected.
4. Send them something at school
Nothing makes a kid feel more special than an unexpected note from the office.
It could be flowers, a new ball, or chocolate. It doesn’t matter what it is, your kid will be glowing from feeling special. All it takes is a secret surprise with a nice note waiting at the office.
5. Virtual Reality Headset
If you haven’t tried virtual reality, I highly recommend it.
A good friend of mine mentioned that he calls his daughter on his Oculus to play a game of checkers. The HD audio and virtual reality effect heightens the connection substantially. Connections are about immersive experiences, and virtual reality helps facilitate this when you are far apart.
6. Watch a TV show together on speaker phone
Sometimes you may just want to hang out without a lot of dialogue. Just pull out a computer or tablet on each side, queue up your favorite Netflix show, and watch it together over the speaker phone. It’s an easy way to just hang out and spend time together.
7. Record a video for them
Another NinjaDad out there was telling me that when he travels, he records a video each day for his kid. He goes over of what he’s up to, where he’s going, and sends it home.
If you are going to do this, make sure to highlight the good and bad—not just the glamorous part of business travel (whatever that is).
8. Read to them
Break out the kindle and read them a chapter of their favorite book together. You don’t even have to buy two copies!
Or, if you’re feeling pressed for time, read it, record it, and send it to them. That way they can listen along on their own.
Dad Audio Books are the best—especially with silly voices and jokes.
9. Leave a treasure hunt for them
Leave a treasure hunt. Sometimes I like to sneak out early and leave a clue for each kid. Each day while I am gone, they can hunt for a clue and find the next thing in the hunt.
At the end, there can be a special surprise or tickets to something you can do together upon your return.
10. Leave a project for your kid
Leave a special project for your kid that they can work on. Prearrange some art supplies, cooking supplies, or a kit for something that they can work on while you are gone. Ask them to take pictures and share their progress with you while you are gone.
Being a dad can be hard. But being a traveling dad is even harder. Your kids crave and need your attention and your spouse needs your support. Nonetheless, doing some of this can improve things while you are gone and help keep your family connected.