If you missed it on Monday, I am going to Kenya in a couple weeks. Kenya! Africa! (I can’t help it; that’s how I hear it in my head every single time I say it.) I’ll be gone for 11 days and, I have to confess, I’m getting a little stressed out about all the big and small tasks I still need to cross of my list.
More than that, though, I’m a ball of nerves about the fact that I’m leaving my kids for nearly two weeks. (Nearly! Two! Weeks!) I’m not concerned about their care. My parents are keeping them and will keep them safe and fed and clean and, based on the list of activities they have planned, happy as can be.
But my babies! Away from me! For SO LONG!
Of course the two-year-old has no clue what’s coming, and I suspect she’ll survive just fine and bounce back like a champ when I return. I won’t be surprised if I see a potty training relapse, but I have high hopes for her resiliency. (I’m also anticipating sleeping with her my first night back home because I don’t really like going 24 hours without patting her head and kissing her cheek, much less eleven days.)
Annalyn, on the other hand, is all sorts of worried and sad about our upcoming separation. So I’ve been looking for ways to make it easier on her (and, FINE, me). Yesterday she made me a box of goodies to take with me on the plane. It included a stuffed heart, because, “Well, because you’re in my…I mean…I LOVE YOU!” as well as a bag of suckers (like the one I packed for her and Adrienne on our recent trip to Colorado), a piece of paper with her name on it (because she knows I’ll miss her and seeing her name will probably make me happy), and a ziploc of salt (because she knows I like to cook).
Clearly I need to properly reciprocate a gift like that! So far I have a photo album and daily letters planned, and a list of books to get from the library.
OF COURSE I HAVE A LIST OF BOOKS! Right?
That’s right. I’ve done a little research and found a few books that might help my kids or yours deal with time apart from their parents. I have a few on the shelf already and a few on reserve at the library, and I’m planning to read them with both girls between now and my trip.
8 Children’s Books to Read When Parents Travel
- The Magic Box: When Parents Can’t Be There to Tuck You In by Marty Sederman and Seymour Epstein: This one includes notes to parents from a child psychologist, with tips for helping kids through separation for various reasons.
- My Mommy’s on a Business Trip by Phaedra Cucina: This book was written by a working mom for other working (and traveling) moms. It also includes maps of the U.S. and the world to help kids visualize where their parents are traveling.
- The Invisible String by Patrice Karst: The idea that we’re connected to the ones we love by an invisible string is a comforting one for children (and adults).
- The Kissing Hand by Audrey Penn: If you’re looking for a more tangible way to help your kids with separation, this one is for you.
- When Mommy Travels by Harriet Ziefert: To be fair, there’s also a version of this book called When Daddy Travels.
- Oh My Baby, Little One by Kathi Appelt: This story is about a boy sad to leave his mom for school but can be applied to all sorts of situations.
- The Kiss Box by Bonnie Verburg: This book is one we own, that my parents bought for Annalyn before another trip.
- A Suitcase Surprise for Mommy by Cat Cora: This book is the one that prompted Annalyn to pack me a box of goodies to take along to Africa. Little does she know that I couldn’t forget her or her sister, with or without a cardboard box of reminders.
Among other things, reading books about feelings and how to deal with them works for me (and my kids).
How do you help your kids cope when you’re separated?
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Oh my! You are coming to Africa! I wish you were coming to Nigeria though
All the same I welcome you ahead to a great land, a loving and welcoming people.
I pray for safe trip for you and I can’t wait to read the stories you share.
Hugs and blessings to you Mary
Thank you so much!! <3
I have a heart for Kenya since our Compassion child lives there and because I support Mercy House and Fair Trade Friday. :) Blessings to you on your trip. My husband and I never really left our kids much when they were little, but when we’d travel as a family, I loved packing some new books for the journey. Once my husband took the kids on a trip for 8 days, and I got to stay home (so wonderful), and I wrote some special notes in some new books for the long car ride. When are books not the perfect answer?!!
Right? Book are ALWAYS the answer! :) One of our Compassion children lives in Kenya, too! And yes, I’m writing notes to leave for my eight-year-old. I think she’ll like it!
Great article! I love these book recommendations (The Invisible String especially!)…and I have one more book to add. When I was going through my separation (my husband of 20 years had an affair and baby with another woman, but that’s a whole ‘nother post!), I missed my kids desperately – and i was very worried about my younger son, then 7. A friend of mine had just lost a good friend to breast cancer, a young mom with a5-year-old. We were both grieving. I am a poet and my friend’s an artist, and we ended up creating a picture book – Sun Kisses, Moon Hugs – to reassure kids that love is forever – even when we are physically separated from or lose the ones you love. We went on to collaborate with LeVar Burton on a book to help kids cope with trauma called The Rhino Who Swallowed a Storm. We’ve developed a website http://www.sunkissesmoonhugs.com with lots of healing art and nature activities to go along with both books (your daughter might like some of these art projects!!). Now we work regularly with schools and agencies to help kids coping with loss and trauma. Sometimes, the grief we experience can be transformed into something positive and beautiful through the magic of creative expression.
Thank you for the recommendation, Susan!