What's a tip for celebrating a holiday or milestone with your kids when your partner isn't able to be there?
Our family has had to celebrate a lot of holidays without my husband at home. We work hard to still celebrate and enjoy the day but there are some tips that I have found helpful over the years...
1. Acknowledge the accomplishments, anniversaries, birthdays, etc.
2. Prioritize what is important to do on the day or at the event. You cannot be all things to all people and do it all but you can work on ensuring the things that matter most are done
3 Acknowledge the absence, don't pretend that all is fabulous. Share your feelings about being sad or angry that they are not there to celebrate then move on with making the most of it
4. Take a ton of photos of the big and small things and include a few notes about why he/she was missed
5. Don't try to do everything the exact same way, accept that things are different and do things that feel right or work for you. Sometimes you can create a new routine or tradition that will be enjoyed for years whether you are together or not
What have you learned about parenting from living in different places?
Parenting isn't based on location. I have learned that regardless of where we live, I have core values, beliefs and parenting dos and don'ts that I live by. What I have learned the most is that a lot of great things come from embracing change, getting to meet new and interesting people and living in places I would otherwise have never done more than stop for gas at. With every move and change, I think that I become a more interesting person and that can only be a good thing for my kids.
What are your best tips for traveling with kids?
Surviving vacations and/or car trips is an art form and particularly if you are doing it alone. As a military wife, I am often “flying solo” and refuse to let life pass us by or not go on trips until my husband is home (we could be waiting for months). Having said this, I don’t go away without some planning and prep time to ensure everyone’s survival. It is this planning that often saves my sanity and allows my kids to see their next birthday!
My basic must brings: snacks, wetnaps, klennex, books, map (for them to use), pencils, markers, paper, neck pillows, tic tacs (play game of seeing who can make theirs last the longest), change (in case of toll booths), IDs and travel permissions, bottles of water, first aid kit, emergency car kit, blanket, stories on CD, music, fruit/veggies (not always easy or cheap along the way), chargers, flashlight, games, plastic bags, extra pair of shoes and socks, box of ziplock bags and camera.
When my husband is away I also make a habit of having the kids take pictures of silly things along the way. When we are on a trip we often get the big moments but they aren’t always the most memorable so by taking silly things along the way we can connect with their Dad in a fun way too. When we are going on long trips we also take a poster board size picture of Dad and insert him into our pictures for fun. It is another silly way of us keeping him a little closer.
I am also not a parent that loves to constantly just turn on a movie or have them play with their gaming systems for hours on end. I remember car trips with my family as a time that we would talk, argue, laugh and discover different things about each other and the world (by actually looking out the window). When I do give in the “electronic pleas” from the back seat I give a time limit or say that they can do it until we reach a certain point. It doesn’t stop them from asking for more time but this is when I pull out the travel bingo. It is the one game we can all agree on. It gets them looking out the window, laughing, talking and time flies by. Now that they are older they make their own cards too. If car bingo doesn’t work then just find something your family can agree on and have fun with it. The idea is really to find things to do to make time pass that don’t always include electronics.
Until I was a parent and military wife, I never knew how exhausting going on a vacation could be! It is always worth it in the end and the memories we create are priceless but the preparation and planning are what ultimately saves me and my children!