When You Work Long Hours
You may not be states or countries away, but an extended workday also requires thoughtfulness. Use available time to the fullest and try to balance as best you can. A meal, a game, or one-on-one conversation can help your child deal with your absences. To compensate for being away during long workdays, try some of the following ideas:
- Before you rush off to work, eat breakfast with your child. During this time, you can make sure she has all of the necessary things for the day. If you are together at breakfast, your child may tolerate your dinnertime absence better.
- Whenever you can, arrive home half an hour or so earlier than usual to play outside before dark with your child.
- Be sure your family eats together at least twice a week—or more.
- Select a game and play it regularly; when appropriate, keep an ongoing score. For younger children, promise a game of Chutes and Ladders or Candyland. Leave game boards or puzzles set up for the next round, or to add puzzle pieces before or after dinner.
- Now and then, if you can, go into the office late so you can take your child to school.
- Do not miss back-to-school night. If you go to work before your child is up, leave a note telling her how much you enjoyed visiting her classroom.
- Money can't buy love, but an occasional gift can be fun to bestow. When your child least expects it, take her to the store and buy something she's been longing to own.
- Use chauffeuring time wisely: Talk with your child instead of listening to the radio.
- Cook something together at least once a month—pancakes, cookies, muffins—recipes that call for simple preparation so your children can help.
- Remember that you don't always have to be doing something with your children. Your just being home and in the same room is often enough.
Some of these ideas may seem obvious—others will be new to your family. Select the ones that work best for you. Although you are trying to please children, who see less of you than you might like, these suggestions can make your life less stressful and reduce some of the guilt you may have. For the long haul, remember it is the little things that are etched into children's minds and long remembered.