When Hubby started in the oilfield last year, our daughter wasn’t really phased by his absence. I’m not sure if she just didn’t notice it or if she was just used to Daddy being gone whenever the Army dragged him away. That has all changed with the last couple of months. The last two times we have dropped Hubby off at the airport I hear, “Mommy, I miss Daddy. Can we go back and get him now?” (Ugh. Here come the waterworks.) Maybe it’s the two solid weeks of family time we get between hitches or maybe it’s because Ashley is getting older, but her attachment to Daddy has gotten a lot stronger and is making the first few days he is gone a bit difficult.
I have a feeling things are going to get worse before they get better, so I decided to find some activities for Ashley that will keep her looking forward to Daddy’s return and help her cope with his absence. Here are a few ideas I have found so far:
1) Start a countdown. Decorate a jar and fill it with 14 candy pieces. Every day that Daddy is gone, let your little one have a piece of candy. If you don’t want to use candy, try decorative rocks or gems that you can pick up in the craft section. You can also dedicate a calender just to tracking hitches.
2) Create a bear at Build-A-Bear Workshop with his voice inside. We did this back in 2009 when Hubby had to return to Iraq four days after Ashley was born. Some how “Daddy Bear” has lost all of his clothing but still works great. It’s still one of her favorite stuffed toys. There are also pillows and other items you can have Daddy’s picture put on.
3) Print out a map that shows your child’s and Daddy’s location. The majority of our families have to deal with Daddy working far away. Put a pin in important or fun places between the two points. For older kids, turn this into a geography/history lesson! If your OFM has been in several places, this could also be a fun way to keep track of all the places he has worked.
What do you do to help your child cope with Daddy’s absence? Tell me in the comments or send me a tweet @Ofwjaimie!