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Neville
Neville asks:
Q:

How do I support my child when my wife is away on business?

My wife will be going away on business for 17 days soon and I am looking for advice on how to support my 3.5 yr old son during this period. We are a very close family and he is very close to his mother - Please help as it breaks my heart to see him sad.

Thanks - Neville
In Topics: Child care
> 60 days ago

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Expert

Wayne Yankus
Jul 4, 2008
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What the Expert Says:

Good of you to anticipate.  Most children this age don't conceptualize time well.  Stay in touch with mom by webcam, telephone, or use recent photos he will remember.  If possible, have grandparents drop by.  Familiar things help.  3-4 year olds care mostly about the immediate such as "Who will feed me"  "Who will read to me" "If mommy is not here, who will make my lunch?"  Start by doing some of that yourself and he will be reassured.

Wayne A. Yankus, MD, FAAP
expert panelist: pediatrics

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Additional Answers (3)

Boys Town National Hotline
It is great that you are being sensitive to the needs of your son for the time that your wife will be gone.  Here are some ideas that you might want to consider:
1.  Try to keep your son's schedule consistent with the way it is when your wife is home.  Consistency is a huge factor for a 3 1/2 year old to feel secure.
2.  Your wife might want to make up some notes for your son to open each day that she is gone. There could be a peice of candy, joke or a picture that goes along with the note.  You will however need to observe your son to make sure that the notes have a positive effect.
3.  Your wife could also record herself reading one of your son's favorite books so he could play the recording while looking at the book.
4.  You also might want to think about activities that you can do together to do some bonding and keep him active.  It doesn't have to be anything big--it could be going for a drive & getting ice cream--it might be a good break for you too!
5.  Inviting friends or family members over can also help break up the time while your wife is away.
6.  It might also be fun for him to draw or color pictures to send to your wife or to keep for her until she gets home.
The most important thing with all of these ideas is for you to make sure you are spending time with your son.  Lots of hugs, praise and positive messages will be important!  Best wishes in helping your son during the time that Mom is away, you hang in there because it will be hard on you as well!
> 60 days ago

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cruftboy
cruftboy writes:
I've gone through this several times with my son.  I always pitch it to him as "special Daddy time" where we get to do fun stuff together.  Of course I make sure that I'm not working late, but more importantly, we do things that we don't normally get to do when mom is around.  I plan a dinner out night, a special movie night, airplane museum, etc.  
Finally- I adjust my own expectations during that time.  When I'm on "kid time" suddenly we're not rushed and we're open to explore opportunities as they arise.
Good luck Neville!
> 60 days ago

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kat_eden
kat_eden , Parent writes:
Hi Neville,

I agree with what all the other posters have said.  I occassionally have to travel for work and all of the things others have mentioned work really well for my husband and our two sons (ages 3.5 and 6).  

One other idea might be to give your son a calendar he can use to mark off the days until mommy comes home.  You can either make one together or tear out a page of an old calendar.  (Since he's so young it doesn't even matter if it's the right month....just having 17 boxes to cross off will help give him a sense of when she'll be back).  

Near the end of her trip it might also be fun for him to work on a big "welcome home mommy!" sign.

It will help him to know that some things are going to stay consistent even when his mommy's not there (like bed time routine) but you can also have a little fun and do some things mommy might never let fly (breakfast for dinner, skipping a bath, or watching a movie in the middle of the day).  

The first time my husband had our kids he tried to throw sugar at the situation and soon learned he was only hurting himself!  If you try to keep your son happy by loading up on ice cream or cookies his behavior is likely to be less than fun for both of you!

Good luck and please let us know how it goes!

Kat
Education.com Community Team
> 60 days ago

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