Cut a slip of paper for each day or week the parent will be gone. Have family members write an activity on each slip of paper and place in a jar. Pull one out each day or week to enjoy a surprise activity. This does not have to cost a lot of money! It can be as simple as have a picnic at the park, family slumber party or have ice cream for dinner.
Long distance Kisses
One of the things kids miss most when their parent is gone is their hugs and kisses. Get a jar for each child and fill it with chocolates, one for each day the parent will be on the trip. Then, the parent who's leaving puts air kisses in the jar in front of the kids so the chocolate kisses are covered with real kisses. It's fun to see the jar slowly empty and get a sweet “kiss” each day from their parent.
Create a two personalized calendars to cross off each day the family will be separated. Fill your child’s calendar with pictures of their parent and the parent’s calendar with pictures of the family. Young children have a hard time with the concept of time and seeing it visually will help them understand the length of their parent’s trip. When our family has had long separations we have another month closer to daddy coming home celebrations when we change the month on the calendar. We do something a little more expensive than the surprise slips like going to the movies or miniature golf. It is also a great idea to send the parent on the trip a surprise package to celebrate too. To make the time seem to go by faster, always have something to look forward to on the calendar, like when family is coming to visit, and vacations. This will break up the amount of time the family is separated into more manageable blocks.