If you travel frequently for work – and if this is unlikely to change in the near future – you may be concerned about keeping your relationship strong and positive with your toddler.
You might be afraid that “out of sight” will mean “out of mind”, and that you’ll simply become a dim, distant memory to your growing child.
Don’t worry, however, there is plenty you can do to avoid this from happening. Here are ways to make sure you remain a key figure in your toddler’s life.
Maintain frequent contact
Digital communication is not the same as face-to-face contact, but it is the next best thing. Your child’s face will light up when he sees you on the computer screen during a Skype session.
It is difficult, but not impossible, to find a time that suits both of you. He may not say much to you during the Skype conversation, but he’ll study your image on the screen very closely.
Leave him reminders of you
Place photographs of you in his bedroom and other areas around the house. You can also leave with him a cuddly toy so he associates warmth with you.
Ask your spouse to mention you regularly to him when you are away, so you continue to be part of his daily routine. Call him on the phone for a chat so he can hear your voice.
It is the quality, not the amount, of time you spend together that matters.
For instance, a one-yearold who spends all day with a grumpy parent is less likely to develop positive psychological well-being than one who spends less time with a caring parent.
If you have a positive approach, your child will still be emotionally attached to you.
Manage your time effectively
Since you are often away, you need to spend time at home more effectively.
When you are not travelling, match your time with his routine of eating, playing and sleeping. For example, if he is usually awake mid-morning, plan to be at home then. Make time with your toddler a priority.
Enjoy your toddler’s company
Don’t worry about how far away you are from each other; when you are with him, do whatever you like as long as you feel relaxed. Talk to him, play with him, cuddle him, sing to him, wash him, or change his diaper.
These precious moments improve bonding. Try to relax and ring-fence these periods so you can enjoy uninterrupted fun together.
There is no reason to assume that your one-year-old will lose out psychologically by your work patterns or that his attachment to you suffers because you are often away from home.
This is your work and there’s nothing about it that you should feel guilty of. Have confidence in yourself as a parent.
When you are with him, do whatever you like as long as you feel relaxed. These precious moments improve bonding.
ILLUSTRATION CHENG PUAY KOON