Parenting from a Distance: What I’ve Learned from 5 Weeks Away from My Kids

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I recently moved from the Oregon Coast to Austin Texas in pursuit of my dream job as a writer/editor for a Home Design and Decor website. Due to the logistics of moving across the country, packing up a house, finding a new home and starting a new job, I had to move down to Austin without my two children.

I have a daughter who is 3 years old and a son who is 19 months old so this was a HUGE sacrifice for everyone involved. My husband has been solo-parenting for the past 5 weeks and I have been feeling like I’m missing a piece of myself. My whole identity feels off balance without my children and there have definitely been some emotional moments on both ends. We are finally approaching the finish line of this separation (I will have my kids in my arms in 4 days!) and there are a few things I’ve learned from this experience that I thought I would share.

FaceTime

Luckily my children have been FaceTime users since a very early age since their grandparents live out of state. Even my 1-year-old was able to quickly adapt to having conversations with me via video chat. I seriously do not know what I would have done without this and really feel that it has enabled me to stay connected with my kids.

Friends

We have had so much help from friends both in Oregon and in Texas and I am forever grateful. My husband struggled a bit with reaching out and asking for help in the beginning and didn’t love me going behind his back to ask for help on his behalf but in the long run I am so very appreciative of our friends that brought him meals, gave him relief by babysitting and checked in with me to see how they were doing. On my end, I have been crashing with my best friend and her husband for over a month and we still love each other so I’d say that it’s been a success. I’m so glad that I had friends to help me throughout the home searching/buying process and with starting a new job and just generally keeping me from wallowing in my own misery being away from my family.

Go Easy

After several weeks of being apart, I started to notice my husband and I getting short with each other on the phone. Although, I’m so happy that we have technology to keep us connected, it can be really difficult to decipher someone’s true meaning via text or phone when you can’t see their face or hear their voice. The majority of the tension between us has been the result of miscommunication. So if you find yourself in a similar situation to me, just really try to go easy on each other and give one another the benefit of the doubt.

Updates

Aside from FaceTime, the thing I looked forward to the most were photo and video updates from my husband. He did an amazing job of taking videos and pictures of the children just going about their daily business which were the moments I missed most. Our FaceTime talks were usually centered around the same questions and “I love yous” so getting a glimpse into my kids world without them putting on a show for the camera was really really great. I also did my best to send my husband pictures of what I was up to and I think he appreciated that as well.

I honestly don’t wish this kind of separation on any families but hopefully some of these things that worked for me will also work for you. I realize that many couples are faced with much longer, unavoidable and even permanent separations from one another and I’ve definitely gained some serious compassion for those families.


8 thoughts on “Parenting from a Distance: What I’ve Learned from 5 Weeks Away from My Kids”

  1. Such a nicely written article that can inspire to every parents.i liked your ideas and tips on parenting.i also deal with PFF, whose mission is to see a world that understands that the root cause of childhood behavior is linked to the way kids feel.Thanks for sharing this.

  2. Bryn, check out http://www.sparklestories.com for a “Helping and Healing” audio book on Moving for your kids (#8). The stories are amazing, and age appropriate, and can help them bridge this challenging time. They’re also great for long travel on the airplane or a car trip. And very affordable!

    And look for Lisabeth and David, the Sparkle Stories creators, in Austin — they just moved there, as well!

  3. I was in the hospital for 7 weeks while pregnant with our 4th child. My family was an hour drive away and it was very difficult especially for our youngest who was only a year at the time. I am so incredibly thankful for FaceTime, text messages, videos, pics & smart phones/technology as a whole. I missed them dearly and loved being a small part of their lives even when I was far away. It was also wonderful to be able to connect & keep family & friends updated on my & our baby’s condition.

  4. This past fall I broke both my ankles and spent 1 week in hospital and a further 7 weeks at a rehabilitation centre. While I was still in the same city as them, due to circumstances I only got to see my husband, 4-year old and 2-year old once or twice on the weekends. It was a very difficult time for everyone, especially my 2-year old who was still nursing regularly.

    I agree with everything you said, except that my kids are really not good with FaceTime, so my husband sent texts from them a lot, and let them pick out the emoticons that they liked best 🙂 I loved getting those texts each day.

  5. Hi, Bryn! I loved your article & want to welcome you to Austin! My family & I live in the hill country after nearly two decades of living & loving life in Austin, & Oregon is near & dear to my heart because I did my Montessori training there.

    As a branch lead for Hike It Baby, I’d love to invite you to join other families on one of the many free hikes we have on our calendar for Austin & the surrounding areas. We have hikes all around town, for various abilities (some are led by toddlers, some are more fast paced, some are hikes followed by playground time & some are urban strolls through farmers markets etc.). Our facebook page is where you’ll find all the information about upcoming hikes, camping trips & special events. I sure hope to meet you & your family on the trails soon!

    https://www.facebook.com/groups/hikeitbabyaustin/

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