I’m going to assume two things:

  1. You don’t need convinced to stay connected to your family while you are away.
  2. You are looking for ideas to use right away. So, without further ado, the list.

rat thinking of family while at work

Courtesy of vivyan @ www.istockphoto.com

 

  1. Battleship.  As a camp director, during the summer I can easily work 16 to 18 hour days.  In my office is half of a Battleship board game and my wife hid the other half at home.  We play throughout the day via text message.
  2. Create a scavenger hunt for the kids to do while you are gone.  Text, email or video chat with them to give them the next clue. If you are a techie family have fun with this and require that they send you a picture.
  3. Hang a large map somewhere at home.  Then play, “Where in the world is Mom/Dad?”  The kids ask you questions via text, video or email.  Are you still in the United States?  What time zone are you in?  etc.  They will have to get creative and maybe even do some “research” to figure out where you are.
  4. Talk about your family a lot.  This is more for you than for them.
  5. Plan a themed return party.  Talk with the family while you are on the road about ideas for a theme; costumes, food, decorations, games, music etc.  You will have to shop for a costume while on the road.  When you get home, the house is decorated, everyone is dressed up, a great meal is ready and the anticipation of your arrival (for both you and the family) is high.
  6. Travel with six-inch tall cardboard cutouts of each person in your family.  Take pictures of them in front of things that made you think of them.

 

Bonus list. Things to avoid.

  1. Some lists I’ve seen suggest writing letters for the kids before you leave.  This might be okay for the kids. But the point is to be connected, not give the illusion of being connected.
  2. Doing these things only when you travel.  Have fun like this even when you don’t travel.  Leave a puzzle, scavenger hunt or some other mystery to be solved while you are at work.  Tell the kids, “if you get it done before I get home…we will go for ice cream.”
  3. Avoid bringing home the cliché gift from the road as the only thing you do.  Now, if you are doing other “connected” things, gifts are okay.  Try to establish a theme.  But be careful.  It’s not always easy to find a decretive spoon.
  4. Avoid the notion that family can’t travel with you.  Be creative. You might be surprised just how easy and often they can go with you.

What are suggestions or variations you have?

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