*This post is simply a tip on how my monkeys and I stay connected-keep up our nightly routine, whenever I am traveling without them*
As you guys may or may not know I adore books. I usually have two or three that I enjoy at a time, it keeps me sane. To my great delight my monkeys are avid readers as well. Even though my guys are growing up, especially Monkey One, I still enjoy reading an exciting tale to them in the evening. It is our time together sharing an adventure. I have always been of the opinion that people enjoy being read to no matter how old they are.
How many times have you watched a movie where the man is reading to the woman and you sigh, “Wouldn’t that be lovely if someone would read to me”. We crave that experience of absorbing the story through someones voice, varied inflections of tone and facial expressions. Storytelling…it is age old for a reason. Just my opinion but even though your child may be 12,13, 14… don’t stop reading to them until they are actually begging you to.
Ya’ll are probably wondering why I am going on and on about reading aloud this evening. I have a point I promise. I am taking a trip soon, a really short one but I will still be away from my monkeys. They have become accustomed to me and as ya’ll know, my darlin’ surfer being away from home from time to time. It has been a while though since I have been the one away from the nest. When I do go on trips without them, two of the most important items that I pack along for the trip are books. One for my reading pleasure and one for the monkeys.
Four years ago I used to travel approx. 4- 6 weeks during the year. The monkeys were eight and four years old at the time. I began to notice when I came home from my second or third long trip, subtle clues as to how my being away from home was disrupting their routine. Nothing to big, a minor drop in M1’s weekly spelling test grade, M2’s concentration during preschool but enough for me to pay attention and be concerned. You see we try really hard to keep their lives running as smooth as possible when it comes to their education and I didn’t want my work schedule to become a burden for them.
I believe that children crave consistency and even though my darlin’ was doing a bang up job while I was traveling, it’s just not the same when a parent is away and routines are disrupted. One evening before their bedtime I sat there going over all of the possibilities, what could I do to help my boys? Were my hands as tied as they felt?
When it came time for them to go to bed we followed the usual routine of course. A five minute heads up so there wouldn’t be any melt downs, pj’s on, teeth brushed and mom waiting patiently to read a chapter from which ever book we happened to be enjoying at the moment. That is when I had my light bulb moment. Reading a bedtime story!! It was the one aspect of their daily routine that solely and completely belonged to me… US. My surfer doesn’t read the stories in the evening, never has.
So I started a new tradition/routine so to speak. Whenever I happen to be on the road traveling I read them a chapter over the phone each night. We couldn’t have asked for a better way to stay connected and engaged while sticking to our traditional routine as much as possible. The monkeys were also amused with hearing the story and my silly sound effects through the phone.
Now I won’t lie, it did get tricky at times. There was the time that my flight was late and our assistant had to hold her phone over my book for light in the shuttle, while I read not only to my boys but a crowded van of stupefied passengers. Restaurants, trade shows, airports…you name the place and I have probably read to them from there.
You will need books with short chapters. They will come in handy not only for those youthful attention spans but they will also last the duration of your trip. As well as being short enough to keep those dinner meeting guests from possibly tapping their toes impatiently down in the lobby.
Here are a couple of our favorite books that we have enjoyed via cell phone in the past.
Peter and the Starcatchers by Dave Barry & Ridley Pearson (Disney) is a wonderful series that has taken a delightful twist on an classic and all time favorite of ours. We think that Peter Pan rules! The authors take a realistic view of Peter and the lost boys, how they meet Wendy, find themselves on Never Land. They have also added a plethora of suspense filled mystery. All the while maintaining the magic and allure of the original tale. This is not a book written to appeal only to boys. Wendy holds her own, well the truth be told she pretty much runs the show. The chapters are just the right size.
Is the tale of a rough around the edges cat who finds a home in Bernie’s barn full of opinionated animals and befriends Bernie’s grandson Ben. Ben is having difficulty with reading in school so Whittington regales him with tales of Dick Whittington and a cat who helped him make his fortune in the world. The storytelling allows Ben to find a safe haven along with the freedom to express his intimidated, suppressed creative side. The chapters are just the right length.
Please don’t feel like you need to run out and buy two books, one for them and one for yourself in order to do this. Check one out from the library, purchase just one at the airport, even make it a surprise. If your child is older and in middle school like Monkey One break out Kipling, Tolkien or Poe and begin an adventure into a vast new world that you can continue when you return home from your trip.
So the next time you find yourself traveling away from your babies and want something to help keep you connected or simply for kicks and giggles try a book.
* Keep in consideration that this is what has worked for me and my monkeys. If reading is not your thing keep pulling rabbits out of the hat until you find that perfect fit for you and your children*