How hard is it to be a long-distance parent? Read Moomy Kaylynn’s story on how she prepares her kids for her big move.
What can you read in this article?
- Beginning the transition to being a long-distance mom
- How to prepare the kids for a big change in the family setup
- How to handle clashing parenting styles with the new primary caregiver
When my husband and I first started our family back in 2018, we decided to live independently and move away from our families, so we moved to Baguio City. We grew our family and had a beautiful baby girl in 2020, but as a family grows, our needs started to grow too.
The decision to be a long-distance parent
We then decided that we should move back in with my mother in La Union for extra help with the kids since my husband worked nights and I am going to be moving back to the States for work.
It was a big decision of ours to both work since for the past three years, we had a good setup wherein I was the stay-at-home mom who took care of the family, while my husband would be the working man of the house and provide our needs. But, it was time to increase our household income and start saving up for our futures as well.
So, in a month’s time, I will be leaving the country while my family stays here as we save up enough money to petition my husband and kids to come to live with me in the States, hopefully not too long in the future.
We moved to La Union in October 2021 so that we could start adjusting the kids and begin our transition. We were used to our former setup – just me being the kids all day.
So for me to leave them abruptly with my mother, would be cruel for them. Hence, we decided to start the transition months before I leave.
Preparing everyone for the big change
There are a few major things that we have been doing to slowly ensure a smooth adjustment for the kids, like alleviating their separation anxiety by constantly reminding and explaining to them that I would be leaving soon.
Every night, the kids and I talk about what would happen: “I’m going to ride an airplane soon and go far away, but you will stay here with Mama and Daddy, okay?”
And then we pretend to play saying goodbye to each other. I also explain to them that they won’t see me, but we will always talk on the phone every day.
Preparing to be a long-distance parent.
Kian used to always ask “why?” before – why I had to leave, why I was going to ride an airplane, why he can’t come. Now, I think he is starting to understand it because he too reminds me that I will be leaving soon too and it doesn’t make him sad anymore.
Another way we alleviate separation anxiety is by building a stronger bond between the kids and their Mama (my mother). Compared to when we first moved in with my mother, the kids would always prefer to stay with me, but now, they long for their Mama just as much. We can even leave them with Mama now and they don’t cry for us when we go out for errands or work.
How to handle different parenting styles with the new caregiver
And, when it comes to Mama, we have been helping her adjust as well just as much as we help the kids. My mother’s parenting style differs from mine – big time.
She practices the traditional parenting style, just as how she raised me and my kids. We were raised with somewhat strict rules and also had punishments when we would go against the rules. ‘Yong tipong nakukuha kami sa tingin niya at titigilan na namin ung kalokohan namin. I know most of us were brought up that way too.
But I practice gentle parenting with my children wherein I respect their choices, understand their feeling, empathize with them, but still instill boundaries.
There have been many instances when my mother and I clash when it comes to our parenting styles, but I am grateful that she is open-minded enough to also respect how I wish to raise them.
Preparing to be a long-distance parent.
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Dealing with your child’s separation anxiety
An instance of us not seeing eye to eye would be when Kian has a meltdown. Kian is 3 years old and I understand that he has trouble regulating his emotions. What my mom would see is a naughty toddler crying and yelling unintelligible words at us. But what I see is my child having a hard time communicating with us.
This is how my mom would handle the situation: she would tell him to stop crying, wherein Kian would cry more, then she would yell at him that he is being bad, resulting in more crying, and finally sitting him down on the chair and waiting for him to stop while she keeps telling him to stop. To be honest, this was how I was too with the kids before I adopted gentle parenting.
My approach would be more like this: I would get down to his eye level and ask what is wrong, wherein he would babble something too hard to understand because he was still crying. I would then ask if he needed a hug, wherein he would nod his head and open his arms up for a hug.
We would stay in the hug until he calms down or pushes me away, at this point I would again ask what was wrong, and since he is calmer, he is more able to compose his words and actually tell me what was wrong. In most cases, it is because he couldn’t reach something, or he had been trying to tell us something but we couldn’t understand.
Once I get what was happening and understand what he needed, I can now help him in either fixing something, reaching something for him, or just listening to him when he needs me to. And after all that, the meltdown is done.
My mom has been observing my parenting style and has been adapting to it slowly, but there are also times she still thinks I am spoiling them. Whenever times like this occur, wherein she doubts my parenting style, I just calmly validate her feelings and continue on with explaining to her why I do it and how it helps them.
I can still see that she is hesitant with my parenting style, but at the same time, she still respects my choices to try it as well.
Despite all of our preparation, I know that being a long-distance parent is still going to be hard. I know that the kids are going to miss me, and I am positive I am going to miss them all too. But hopefully, it will just be a year or two and then we will be together again. Saludo sa lahat ng long distance mommies diyan!