A Day At A Time
There was a time when my husband was gone. A Lot. It happened to be when my two oldest were just toddlers, and it was very difficult for them to understand.
I got this idea from my dear friend, Penny, and it immediately caught on. This is really geared to those whose spouses are gone for weeks and months at a time, but I imagine it would work for any length of time…even a week long business trip can be manageable if the kids have a tangible idea of how long until mommy or daddy comes home.
Paper Chain day counter:
On the day that mom or dad leaves, fill the time by making paper chains.
Link together one for every day that he or she will be gone, and at bedtime every night, take one off.
The kids can easily count down to their parent's return, decreasing anxiety and making a fun game out of a not so fun situation.
What to do if:
--the trip gets unexpectedly longer? add chains at night, or if the child is a little older, explain the situation and add links together.
--there are too many days to count? Wait until an important milestone, like halfway through, or with a month to go
This worked so well for us I shared it with all of my friends. A few additional ideas:
--Put m&ms in a bowl and eat one every day. This works well for multiple children, because you can put one in for each kid for each day. It also works well when the length of time is too much for paper chains.
--Stickers on a calendar
Have you used a different method for counting the days? Please share!