Just last December, my husband’s job relocated us from Virginia to sunny Florida. The offer came up suddenly and we didn’t have all of the details in place at the time. However, circumstances created a need for us to go. It was a tough pull on my heartstrings because I had 3 kids in Virginia. Though 2 were grown, the smallest was only 4 years old and I knew our lives were about to change.
Becoming a Long-Distance Parent
My oldest child’s father and I weren’t together very long. We went our separate ways shortly after our son’s 2nd birthday. Though we had shared 50/50 custody while we lived in the same state, our agreement would have to be renegotiated with the new move. We both still wanted to be a part of his life as much as possible. So, I knew at some point during the year, there would be a space of time when my son would be in Virginia and I in Florida — therefore living miles apart.
When I first landed in Florida, I felt like I must be the only parent this far from her child. Now, I am more realistic about the possibility that there may be other relocated, long-distance parents here who had to make a similar bold move.
If you’re reading this and your story is like mine, I want to share with you some things I’ve learned since we’ve been apart that has kept us connected:
Becoming a regular on a low-cost airline is the way to go.
I have found these flights to be a saving grace for my situation, and while there are a few option for low-cost airlines, I typically fly with Allegiant Airlines. The pricing is phenomenal. I’m able to go visit my son for long weekends without a major financial setback. Flights to/from many cities start at just $39 (one way) and the fares are even low for weekends. They fly in and out of St Pete/Sarasota and Orlando, so we’ve got a lot of options from here. The more I’ve flown, the more coupons they’ve sent to my phone that I can use for discounts on rental cars and hotels. Even more, I just received my Allegiant Airlines MasterCard that offered 15,000 bonus points, priority seating and other perks. Every time I use it to book travel, I rack up points, points and more points to see my son again. That keeps me flying with them.
Ah, technology. For the time I’m not near my son, we have a daily FaceTime Call, usually right after school. This gives him the opportunity to tell me all about his day. It helps make us feel closer. Hearing his voice is great but there’s nothing like catching a glimpse of him each day to find out about the details of his life. What outfit he’s wearing, school projects and the stories he shares are the little things that add up to form his big picture.
Don’t Knock Old-School Snail Mail
Who doesn’t love to get mail? I love sending my son packages and mail to open during the time we’re not together. Sure, we talk most every day, but I’m touching his life in a different way when I put a letter in the mailbox. It makes him feel special when he receives mail from me, too. Sending mail is well worth the return in smiles.
Back Up Your Kids’ Dad
There are times that I’d like to punch my ex right in the kisser. It’s not only the charges I would face, but also my son’s certain disappointment in that scenario that helps me to refrain (I’m kidding, sort of). Though friendship has been taken off the table for us, we’ve managed to remain civil and abstain from throwing any real punches. And there’s hope for you. I’ve seen friendships between co-parents succeed.
I envy those who have managed to keep up their friendships for their kids. It’s more important than ever now to collaborate on ideas and visions for their future. If you’re in a similar situation, try your best to back up Dad. Chances are, you’ll receive the same support in return. I try every day, for my son. It makes things much easier when the lines of communication are open, and everyone is on the same supportive page.
Are you a long-distance parent for part of or for the entire year?
If so, I hope (like me) you have found ways to make the best of the situation and stay positive and close for everyone involved. What measures do you take to ensure your relationship stays strong from across the miles?
“I exist in two places. Here and where you are.” – Margaret Atwood