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Trip Treasures

Making your child feel loved when your job calls you away.
By Lee Ann Jackson

It’s Sunday night and I’m staring into those big brown 4 year old eyes, “mommy work day tomorrow?” Ugh.

Separation anxiety is what psychologists call it. Call it whatever you want, all I know is my heart breaks a little every time I answer “yes” to that question.

While we are slowly coming to grips with the mommy workday concept, the business trips were proving devastating—for all parties involved!

Having to tell Rebecca that I wouldn’t be home to tuck her in or say good night prayers was heart-wrenching for both of us. I needed a way to help her cope with me being gone and at the same time, help mommy cope with being gone. That’s how my concept of trip treasures was born.

As soon as I find out I’m going on a trip, I figure out how many days I’ll be away and I set out to buy one treasure for everyday I’m away. Sometimes the treasure is a toy and sometimes it’s a treat. A treasure can be a box of favorite cookies, a bracelet or a coloring book.

Buying the treasure, though, is simply where the adventure begins…once I have enough treasure to cover the days I’m gone, I strategize which day I’ll give Rebecca her treasure and where I’ll hide it. Then I type up the clues.

Sometimes the treasures are hidden in obvious places like on a visible shelf. Other times, I hide them in not-so-obvious places. A clue to find a treasure might read “If I were an Eskimo, I’d make my home here.” Then I hide a box of Klondike bars in the freezer.

In addition to trip treasure clues, I also leave daily notes about what I’ll be doing everyday on my trip along with what Rebecca will be doing each day at home.

A sample note might read, “Monday: Mommy has client breakfast meeting. Pray she doesn’t oversleep and that the meeting goes well. Today you have school. After school, you’ll take a nap and practice learning the alphabet.”

After hiding the treasure, completing the clues and the notes, I number the corresponding envelopes (Day 1, Day 2), and place the appropriate “clue” and note in each envelope. Rebecca knows she can only open the envelope designated for each day mommy is away. And, she knows mommy is reading the same note that very day. Though separated by miles, we’re still connected enough to know what’s going on in our respective lives.

Nowadays (with a few business trips under our belts), Rebecca is less interested in “if” mommy is taking a business trip as much as how many days will mommy be gone. Translation: how many trip treasures will I get?

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