The following is a guest post from momAgendaCOMM blogger Leticia Barr.
My husband and I travel frequently for work and while friends may marvel at our organization and ability to maintain a stable family life for our kids while gone, it’s because we have certain systems in place that keep us organized whether one or both of us is at home.
How do we do it? Here are seven of my tricks!
- Establish routines. In our home, everything has a place and we’ve set up systems to make things run a little more smoothly in the midst of chaos. Lunches are packed the night before and clothes are waiting in the bathroom for the kids to put on each morning. When they come home from school, they put their shoes in a bench in our mudroom. Backpacks are emptied, lunchboxes go on the kitchen counter while homework and other paperwork are laid out on the kitchen table. The more kids can help, the easier it is on the one parent who is at home.
- Organize yourself. Have a central location for the family’s schedule, emergency numbers, medical information, and favorite babysitters so you can put your fingers on needed information quickly. I use the MomAgenda Kitchen Folio because it has a place for everything! The easy to read monthly calendar features space for the whole family’s activities and comes with a place to store school schedules, menus, and more in plastic page protectors. The Kitchen Folio can be customized by adding free downloadable printables from the momAgenda website and refilled, making it an economical choice for family organization.
- Enlist your village. It takes a village to raise a child so why not ask your circle of friends to help? From extra play dates to assistance with pickup or drop off, your friends know that you’ll return the favor in a pinch. And if a friend offers to have your kids over for dinner while you’re away? Say yes without hesitation!
- Make meals easy. It’s not hard to still eat healthy when one parent is away. Pick up a rotisserie chicken and a bag of premade salad before you go so there’s a meal in the fridge. Leave easy to grab snacks like mini carrots and fresh fruit on the counter. Stock the freezer with steam-in-the-bag veggies to go with the frozen pizza you know will be consumed while you’re gone!
- Send photos. Share a little bit of what you’re doing with your kids by texting or emailing photos. It’s great to talk on the phone and hear the voices of your loved ones but photos provide a concrete example that young kids need to help understand where you are. Encourage your significant other to have your kids send photos back. Having them dictate emails helps them practice their verbal skills while texting allows older children to practice writing and typing skills.
- Make your time special. On the occasion when my dad would travel for work, I remember my mom taking us to the grocery store to pick up a frozen dinner. The fact that we hardly ever ate frozen dinners made them all the more special. Find that special thing that is a rare treat and do it! Maybe it’s a movie night on a weeknight as you eat in front of the TV. Perhaps it’s dinner out – just the 3 of you at a favorite restaurant.
- Don’t expect perfection when you return. Look, you’ve been gone. As long as the children are alive, well fed, and happy, your significant other did a great job. Overlook that pile of dishes in the sink and the dust bunnies on the floor and give everyone a big hug and let them know how happy you are to see them.