When you accept a job as a healthcare IT consultant, you may have to be away from your family for days or weeks at a time. Whether you’re back home on the weekends or work straight through the assignment, your children may not understand why such an important member of their family is away for extended periods of time. Maintain a healthy balance between your work and family life with the following tips.
Overly communicate. Your young children may not completely understand what’s going on, so it’s important to reaffirm that your move away from them is only temporary, and you’ll come back to visit often. Give your children a print calendar and mark the days on it that you’ll be home, which will help them realize your time at home is real.
Reason with your children. Explain that in your field of work, you sometimes need to travel to be where you can provide them with what they need financially, which will allow them to stay where their friends are without disrupting much of their daily lives. Tell them that people need medical help everywhere, and explain that their parent is helping someone in another city feel better.
Let them get to know your new town. If your children visit on the weekends, encourage your children to find family friendly or familiar activities to do in your new city, advises KidsHealth.org in an article about preparing your child for a move. But be careful to not act like the new city is better than your present city, as that may cause feelings of resentment toward the temporary place.
Create a family calendar. Commit to quality time by placing planned outings or family game nights on a Google calendar that everyone can access, says Serena Norr of Parents.com. If you have multiple children, color-code each child’s activity with you so you can plainly see how to balance your time with each child. You can even schedule 15 minutes on your last day home to talk with each child about how school is going or to review homework and class projects.
Give your family your full attention. When you do get home or when your family visits you, make sure you aren’t glued to your phone the entire time, and prioritize spending quality time with your spouse and kids. If you have to set aside an hour each day to answer emails and calls, make sure you let your family know what hour that will be. Develop a routine that your kids look forward to, whether it’s calling at the same time of day, doing the same activities when you’re home or going to the same breakfast spot together when your family comes to visit you, advises Natalie A. Gahmann of MomMD.com.
Don’t neglect your spouse. In this transitional time, your spouse is going to be your biggest cheerleader and ally. In addition to having date nights with your spouse, check in with him or her about how the kids are handling your time away from home, and adjust your response to fit their needs.