Where do we lose touch?
To understand how to improve our communication with your children we first have to notice where the gaps are ? To ask ourselves which are the points in the day when work or other preoccupations interrupt communication.
Do you have time to know what the day holds for your child?
- After school
Who picks up? Maybe someone else is first to hear their news/
When is your home time? Too late for proper talk or play
How to manage Transition Times
Give changeover (work-to-home) a NAME ! Mom’s “grumpy time”, spaceship landing time, putting my “dad head “ back on
Get a whiteboard so the kids can leave you messages
Make a hometime ritual for yourself. A shower, a lie-down.
Be available by having time for yourself – even 5 minutes, where you consciously switch from worker to parent.
Buy time by saying you really want to hear about their day, but in 2 minutes!
How to stay in touch
- Have a timetable up in the family area
- Make one-to-one time – either short for each child, or a longer time on a particular day. (“so your day for special time is Monday”)
- Actively THINK about your child during the day …”I wonder what they are doing now..?”
When and How to Find out Things?
Best times are: bedtime, after food, when they are calm
- Don’t ask questions – WONDER aloud e.g. while folding clothes, “I wonder how shouty Mrs Jones was today?..”
- Don’t ask “How was your day?” You will get the answer “fine” ! The “day” is too long and too hard to recall for most children. Go for a specific – “what did you have for lunch? Today is Tuesday..what score would you give it out of 10?”
- Try talking to yourself out loud (talking “into the air”) “I wonder if today’s test was really horrible? “ Oh dear, sometimes it’s REALLY hard to forget bad things someone has said…” “Gosh, sometimes all the feelings of the day just RUSH out at home time!”
Keeping in touch when you travel
- Prepare your child in advance if you can
- Tell them WHERE you are going
- Paint a mental picture of where you will be (tall buildings, hot and jungly, where Uncle Franz lives etc)
- Use a calendar with little stick figures and aeroplanes
- Use email, Skype and messaging
Let them give you a “travel buddy” a small toy or home made figure, to be with you wherever you are.
Tell your child “I’ll be thinking about you (if you are travelling)
If you are the parent at home..Say “I wonder what Mama/Daddy is doing now?”
Shout “Good night” to the absent parent (as if they could hear you)
Keep a clock with the other time zone (for long absences)
Tell your child they can meet Mum or Dad in their dreams to have fun!
(This resource from helping military families : “My Daddy’s Going Away” by Christopher MacGregor)