Here are a few practical suggestions:
Call your child to talk to him during the day. No, it's not the same as being there, but it will let him know that you are always thinking of him even when you are at work.
Try and make some time each evening for "private time" with your son. You may not have the energy after a full day of work to start projects and cooking activities. Instead, think of some quiet time activities - reading books, playing a board game, and discussing the day's activities. Give that period of time a name. It can be private time, our special time, whatever name you and your child want to give to it. That way, your child knows he can look forward to something special at night with you even if he misses you during the day.
Make the most out of your weekends. I know when you are working a 40-hour week, you will need your weekend to catch up on errands and basic household chores. Perhaps you can still plan one small activity each day. Bake one batch of cookies on Saturday and take your son to the park for half an hour on Sunday.
Don't underestimate your son. Children are very observant. If your son knows that despite your hectic schedule you love him; that you try and make whatever time you have together count and miss him during the day, he will feel special and loved. A five-year-old is old enough to hear this message. Tell your son how much you will miss him and explain that you won't have the same amount of time, but in the time you do have, you will do "really fun things." Consult him. Ask him what activities he likes best and choose a time you can do them together. You can make a calendar together with him for each month where you can plan activities and if he wants he can count how many days are left until the weekend.
- Don't underestimate your husband. You and your son are lucky that your husband's schedule allows him to be there when you can't. While it may be true that your husband will not choose to do the same kind of activities that you might have, that does not mean that he does not have a lot to offer your son. A father-son relationship is very special and the time your husband and son spend together may be great for both of them. Maybe your husband would enjoy doing activities with your son. In fact, you could mention to him that the Internet is a great place to search for "things to do" on rainy days. If he's interested, suggest he check out our early childhood section.
Good luck with your new position. If I can help with anything else please let me know.
Esther Boylan Wolfson, MA
Director, Early Childhood Development Center
Thank you for your reply. Things have changed since I wrote. I was able to reduce my hours to 30 hrs. a week! I am very happy, even though my position has changed at the office and it won't be as good a job as I had hoped. This enables me to pick my son up from school four days a week. The other day, I will be with him in the a.m. before school. When he goes to school all day next year, I will be able to see him to the bus stop and pick him up. My husband is happy that he will sleep again! I have been doing all the things you wrote about. My son knows I miss him very much. He saw the picture I have of him at work. We met for lunch on Columbus Day. I spend special time with him at night, and we try to get outside for a while before the sun goes down. My husband is doing terrific with him in the mornings.
Thanks again for your help.