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Helping a toddler cope with daddy's absence?

569 Views 7 Replies 7 Participants Last post by  apple_dumpling
My DH went away on a business trip this week. He was supposed to be gone for two nights, but because of various travel problems, will end up being away for a total of four nights.

DS is almost 22 months, and I can tell he has some anxiety about DH being gone. I've tried helping him with it by talking about DH with him, showing him a picture of DH before bed (and we both blow a kiss), explaining that DH will come home (though it's not so great that I told DS that DH would be home by now, and now DH won't be home until tomorrow night), etc. Still, DS is waking a ton at night and is unusually clingy with me - I think he's worried that because DH is gone, maybe I will leave him, too.

Does anyone have any other tips on how to help him cope? It doesn't help that I am running on empty, with the lack of sleep, all the home and child care responsibilities, and a horrifically busy week at work. I almost lost it last night when DS simply would NOT go to bed. Three times, he fell asleep, I got up to leave, he woke and began to wail. I finally had to get him up and take him downstairs with me while I did the dinner dishes and got ready for this morning, and then I went to bed with him.

Also, any ideas on what we might expect when DH does return home, and how to help DS with the transition? DH will be returning on Friday night after DS goes to bed. DH usually sleeps with us, but I'm concerned that if he comes to bed and DS wakes up (which he will), it will end up being party time. On the other hand, DS is waking more than usual anyway, in part because DH is away...
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Here's what we do. I let my DD send Daddy e-mails. She plunks on the keyboard until her little heart's content then I hit send.

The evening your DH is coming home you can have your DS help you make something special for Daddy. Maybe a favorite dessert or a little craft project. As long as you let him know Dad will be getting home while you are sleeping he should be fine. Personally I would plan on NOT getting much sleep. Your DS will likely wake and want to spend a few moments with Dad.

This happens with us ALL the time. I know it is hard but you WILL make it through. (((((HUGS)))))
My 26 month old's papa is out of town for nine days right now.

One thing that has seemed to help is to count down the days with Baby. So every morning I'll say 'Let's see, papa will be home in five days!' and I'll show her that many fingers. She has enough of an understanding of numbers that she has the sense that we're getting closer as we go. I think it also helps in terms of reminding her that - yes, I know papa's gone and that you miss him, no we haven't forgotten about him and he hasn't just gone away for good, and yes, there is a plan in place for the two of you to be together again very soon.
I minimize the absence as much as possible. I plan every minute that I can with activities that I know DS LOVES so he his less time to think about it.
I've tried the filling up the days with fun activities - any cool toys you haven't had out in a while?

It's just the worst that not only is child out of sorts but momma tends to be out of sorts as well since daddy isn't home to help at all. Let a couple of things slide for yourself (and have DH take care of them when he comes home!)
In our house, Daddy is gone a lot and then, WHAM! he's home a lot. We've never had consistent schedules and Jett doesn't either. Sooo, for us, we rely more on the "now" aspect of it.

We talk on the phone often, using speakerphone so Jett can hear him, too, and speak up when he sees fit. We also webcam many nights. Jett sits on my lap (a rare event) and "chats" away at his Dad. He runs off and brings back prizes to show his dad, it's so sweet.

Basically, we try to integrate the missing person as much as possible.
Thank you, everyone, for the suggestions.

DS "talked" with daddy on the phone last night and this morning (there were many loud "hiiiiiiii"s and then a big "BYE-BYE").

He seems to understand that daddy is coming home tonight, and was chattering away this morning about daddy flying on a plane in the sky.

We'll see what happens when daddy actually gets home!
We are a military family so my husband is gone quite a bit for different lengths of time. DD is only 13 months, but a few things I have done to help ease the anxiety of not having dada around are:

- before my DH leaves, I record him reading some books, poems, etc. and get him to burn it to a DVD (I'm clueless when it comes to that stuff, so it is important to get him to do it before he leaves!) I don't let dd watch much tv, but she LOVES watching dada on the television reading her stories when he isn't here. Plus I like that she can still hear his voice and be familiar with him. Most of the time he can only call at night, depending on what time zone he is in, so she can't always talk to him.

- I took one of his shirts that I hadn't washed (it wasn't real dirty, but still had his "smell" on it) and made dd a little dada pillow. She likes this too, it's her little part of dada that is still home with her.

- I second the pp who said to get your dc to do a craft for daddy with you before he gets home to give to him. DD is a little too young for this yet, but we will be doing this in the future.

Hope that helps!
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