Whether it’s to go to work or go on a business trip, saying goodbye to our kids for any length of time and seeing their sad faces can be heartbreaking, not to mention guilt-inducing. To make those moments a bit easier, we’ve rounded up 10 thoughtful things you can do. These simple, sweet gestures remind your tot that everything’s going to be OK, and you’re not going to be gone for long.
Let your child know you can exchange hugs no matter where you are with this super easy idea from mom Louise Mallet. Louise gave herself and her youngest child matching “tattoos” on their palms so he’d have an easier time settling in at school in the morning. When they want to send hugs to each other, they simply press the heart on their hands.
“It worked,” Louise wrote on Facebook. “I drew a heart on both our hands and gave him a spare one on his arm in case the one on his hand wore off. We ‘charged’ them by holding hands on the way to school and when I picked him up I said, ‘Did you get my hugs?’ and he happily said, ‘Yep!’ He also said, ‘I pressed it for a long time, Mummy, but I didn’t cry.'”
Sometimes kids miss their moms so much, they get really serious about tracking down when their mothers will be returning—and that’s just the case with working mom Sarah El-Etr Schoenberger’s young daughter. She writes, “This cutie made a sign so she can count how many sleeps till I come home.” How adorable is this?!
Inspired by the book Jonathan James and the Whatif Monster, Laura, from Sunny Day Family, had her sons verbalize their worries, helped them write those worries on notecards, and then had them “feed” the notecards to a stuffed animal that they designated the Whatif Monster. “Now our worries are safely tucked away, and we can now talk about all the wonderful ‘what-ifs’ that might happen, just like in the book. This is a wonderful way to get kids talking about the ‘what ifs’ that are weighing on their minds,” she writes.
With this project, via Brandi from Baby or Bust, you leave a message for your child each day you’re gone along with some small items. Brandi says she came up with the concept to make it easier on her daughter when she’s traveling. “I put seven notes in seven envelopes, each labeled for the days of the week that I’m away.
Each has a different note, wishing her a good morning, and a reminder that even when I’m far away I still love her, miss her and am thinking of her. I hope she feels that.” Some of Brandi’s surprises for her daughter included stickers, coins for a piggy bank, and of course, an announcement explaining when she’ll be back!
Have your kid wear the words you want him to live by. Kate Etue of Cool Mom Picks says, “I have found that a small gift to remind my kids to be brave (ideally to stave off any meltdowns) can go a long way when they get lonely.” For older kids, she recommends a temporary tattoo that reminds them to be courageous, particularly Tattly’s “Okay, Let’s Do This” tattoo. “A simple reminder they learn to refer to can get them through the first two or three minutes of fear until something fun distracts them and they’re ready to play again.
As it generally does,” she writes.
Going to be away for your kids for multiple nights? Give them something to look forward to each day you’ll be gone in the form of presents! Meredith, an educator and the mom of three behind Homegrown Friends said she did this when she had a fun, kid-free two-day trip with her husband since her kids were a little nervous about their first weekend away from their parents. “For each day you will be away, wrap a present and label it with your child’s name and the corresponding day. When your child wakes up each morning a fun surprise awaits,” says Meredith, who gifted her kids toy critters, a LEGO treehouse, and art supplies.
“I had so much fun secretly buying presents for my children over the past few months. When buying gifts I kept two things in mind: I wanted the gifts to be items my children have wished for over the past few months, and I wanted the gifts to be items that would help give my parents little breaks during the day.”
Sometimes just looking at pictures of Mom is enough to comfort an emotional kid. Allison McDonald, the mother behind No Time for Flashcards, says she makes a DIY photo book with images of her and her daughter, a message about what she’ll be doing, and reassurance that they’ll be together soon.”When she gets upset, looking at photos of the family has always helped her calm down,” Allison writes. When she has to leave, Allison says she has her husband read the book to their daughter, and that she’ll read it to her daughter many times before she leaves as well.
“I never say I won’t miss them. Instead, I always say I will and then tell them how I handle the emotions and ask them how they do. Giving them control and not telling them what to do has always helped my children feel empowered with hard emotions. I love when they explain to me how they conquered something hard.”
You know your kid wants to hear from you while you’re gone, but you might be hard to reach. By preparing letters with thoughtful messages for your child to open each day you’re gone, your tot will know you’re always thinking of him/her. Allison from No Time for Flashcards says she also does this to give her son some comfort, using just a mini mailbox she bought from Target, paper, markers, and stickers.
She suggests hiding the letters from your child and getting someone at home to play postal carrier by placing them in the mailbox every night.
Sending your little one to school for the first time? Create these simple felt pocket hearts, so she can be reminded of your love wherever she goes. Ellen, the mom behind What You Can Do with Paper and Glue, came up with the DIY because her daughter started going to a homeschool co-op for a few hours once a week. “She wasn’t thrilled with the idea and was worried that she would miss me.
So on her first day, I gave her one of these little pocket hearts that I had made for her. I let her watch as I gave it lots of hugs and kisses. Then I handed it over, and she happily tucked it in her pocket for the day. I told her that it was filled with love and that whenever she needed to, she could reach in her pocket and feel my love for her.”
Unlike the other crafts in this list, this one was first done by a child! MaryAnne, from Mama Smiles, says daughter Emma created a Kiss Box after reading a book of the same name. The box, which is made of papier-mache, is filled with construction paper hearts, and both mom and child are meant to create their own, and then exchange them “so that they won’t miss one another so much while they are apart.” According to MaryAnne, both the book and the project are worth your time if you want to ease your kid’s anxiety about returning to school.