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Thread: Helping toddlers cope with absent parents

  1. #1

    Default Helping toddlers cope with absent parents

    Tomorrow morning DH is going away for 14 nights/sleeps. The boys are crazy about him and Imran is at a stage right now where he gets seperation anxiety every time DH walks out the door to work.
    I'm wondering if anyone can suggest any tactics to help the boys get through this time without too much stress.
    And me!!! 2 weeks of single parenting is giving me the heebie jeebies lol.

    We haven't explained much to them until today although they must have overheard us discussing it. This morning we told them that he would be going away and we went and bought a big piece of cardboard (Yasin picked the brightest tennis ball green colour lol) and drew 14 circles and decorated it with some stickers and texta. Each day we'll mark a circle off so they can count down the sleeps until he gets home.

  2. #2

    Join Date
    Oct 2004
    In my Zombie proof fortress.


    Been going through this with Maggie, DH has been going away for 5 nights and back on the weekends. He is home this week, but looks to be away next week.

    I find what helps is favourite foods, even if that means takeaway one night, just to help stop the evening stress especially on work days. Visiting and having visitors can be a good distraction as well. Oddly enough Maggie was actually better not having a chat to Daddy on the phone, well it seemed to me anyway that her mood better, it could just be a coincidence.

    Not sure if any of that helps, I will also be looking at this thread for ideas.

  3. #3
    paradise lost Guest


    I'm a single parent and obviously smee is more used to dada not being here all the time, but she does go through phases of asking for him alot. I'd say:

    For the boys:

    Talk about daddy, and have his picture handy. The crossing-off calendar idea is fabulous and will make a big difference. Have daddy bring back a gift (or buy a gift for when he comes back) by all means, but giving them a gift before he goes might be better - an activity they can do and think about daddy? Art or something, nothing too messy for you to deal with! When Smee asks for dada i say "not dada now, dada later/tomorrow/whenever" i never lie or distract as i find she gets upset if i'm vague. I think the important bit is to keep everyone aware that it is very temporary and daddy will be back soon so getting upset isn't necessary.

    For you:

    Make life as easy as you can. Cook extra and freeze so you don't have to cook every night. Get takeaway. Try to do the housework as you go, as it's so hard to catch up once you're behind - that's with one kid, i can only imagine with 2 it'd be far worse! Accept help when it's offered and ask for it if it's not. Be strict with their bedtime and make sure you get time every evening to put your feet up, arrange for adult company if you don't have any (does your MIL live with you?) so you can have a grown-up conversation once a day. Arrange at least one day with friends/mothers group/company with kids a week so you all have something to look forward to and so time passes fast.

    Time will fly.


  4. #4


    Hi Dach,

    This is something I'm very used to . Even though Abbey is so young, she always knows when Daddy is away. I find that talking about Daddy and showing her Daddy's photo nightly helps. When I pick her up from Child Care I give her a cuddle and a kiss and tell her that was from Daddy.
    The last time DH went away, we actually recorded him talking (reading stories) which I played to her when she was showing signs of missing Daddy. This had two benefits - it gave her some "Daddy time" whilst also gave me a few minutes to myself!

    When I was younger, my Dad was away a LOT with the Army. He was rarely able to call us but he often left us little notes around the house. Mum also gave us little gifts that "Daddy left". Just something small. One day it may have been a small choccie, another it might have been a matchbox car, another it might have been hair clips (for me). We got the gifts in the morning which helped us to count down the days and we also knew that the day we didn't get a pressie, we had either been reeeeeeeeeeeally naughty - or Dad was coming home!

    For the being a single parent bit... make sure you call on friends so you can have a break now and then. Don't stress out if things don't get done that you would normally do... and above all - be kind to yourself!
    I find it easier to cope with DH being away by writing to him daily - even if I don't send them. It allows me to debrief from my day and feel closer to him.



  5. #5

    Join Date
    Aug 2006
    The land of chaos


    Hi Dach

    My DH goes away for work a lot (for between 7 - 10 days at a time) and earlier this year he went away for about 50 days straight so DS 1 and DS 2 missed him terribly, but particularly DS1.

    To help him through it I made a chart with numbers on it for each of the days he was away and each day DS1 put a sticker over the number that correlated with the number of days he had been away so he couold see that it was getting closer to when DH returned. I also had some photos of DH on the chart. We also had some A4 sized photographs laminated of some of the places DH was going to be and DS1 slept with these under his pillow. I also had some gifts that DH had purchsed prior to leaving that I have the boys at differnent times. DH also sent them post cards which was exciting for them to get in the mail.

    Even on DH shorter trips we talk about DH all the time and look at photos of where he is and what he is doing.

    I find that to help me gert through the time DH is away I break the days up into hourly blocks and write down what we are going to do at the start of the day and cross it off as we do it. It seem to make the day seem much less daunting if it is broken down into little blocks.

    Good luck and we are here for you!

  6. #6

    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    Down by the ocean


    When my DH goes away it takes a couple of days for the boys to realise, then they get sad and ask when is he coming home. Mason and Angus are older than your boys so I can talk about what Daddy does ie he has a big long drive in the car to make special sausages in a different shop etc. I get them to draw pictures of what they will do together when he comes home.
    We look at photos or home movies too.

    Caleb is beginning to look forward to DH coming home this last week and seems to know when it's home time so I'm worried he will begin to miss him now.

    Mine is going away for 10 days next week so we can be lonley together

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