7 Tips for First Time Long-Distance Parents

What’s the hardest thing about leaving the Philippines to work in Australia?   For some, it could be the thought of having to go beyond their comfort zone.   For others, it could be the reality of having to let go of some of their habits and traditions to make it easier to blend into a new environment.   But for parents, it’s the frightening thought of leaving their kids back home, especially if they have not been apart for long periods of time before.   Yes, being a first-timer in the long distance parenting scene can be the scariest thing any parent could ever face.   That’s okay though, because you’re not alone. Every year, thousands of Filipinos make that decision to take a leap and leave their loved ones behind to grab opportunities that would help them build stronger futures for their children. All it takes is knowing how to get through it all.   Here are a few tips that first-time long distance parents should keep in mind to make the journey somehow easier.   Take good care of yourself  
a young woman jogging outdoors

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You made this decision to work and become productive, and letting yourself go would be extremely counter-productive.   It will only lead to you getting sick, being lonelier, and eventually, becoming unable to work.   Eat a balanced diet at all times and make sure you give yourself enough rest. Try squeezing some exercise in.   There isn’t really any need to go to the gym. You can take quick walks around the block each day, or jog when you have extra time.   The point is, all the worry and homesickness is all going to be in your mind.   Your mind however, is supported by your body. And without a healthy body, there’s no other way for your mind to go but to spiral down into unhealthiness as well.   Know when it’s necessary for you to cry   Do you know what builds up the stress inside your body? It’s trying to hold back on your emotions.   Contrary to popular belief, crying actually helps you release all the built up stress hormones inside your body.  

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  Contrary to popular belief, crying actually helps you release all the built up stress hormones inside your body.   Notice how lighter you always feel after having a good cry? That’s because you have also disposed of harmful hormones, making the load easier for you even for a short period of time.   Cry it out and don’t hold it back. Denying the loneliness and worry will not be of any help to anybody.   You have to embrace the emotion and admit that you are, indeed, an emotional wreck. And the best way to clear this wreck is to clear out all the baggage weighing you down.   Keep a journal   A journal is a great way for people to let out their thoughts, something that a first time long distance parent like you should do. Sure, you can cry it all out. Sure, you can keep yourself busy.   But writing all about it is a great way for you to have a no-holds-barred conversation with yourself, a way for you to voice out things that you sometimes can’t tell even your closest friends.

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  It doesn’t have to be a daily thing. Do not make it an obligation, otherwise, it loses its purpose. Make it something that you can do anytime you feel like you need to unload. If you’re having an exceptionally bad day, you can write on it 3, 4, or even 5 times. It’s all up to you on how often you feel you should be relieving yourself from all those negative thoughts crammed into your head.   And one day, when things are finally amazing and wonderful, you can read back and make your achievements even more fulfilling. The journal can serve as a reminder of how strong you are and how much you were able to endure to get to where you are.   Set aside some time to do something you enjoy  
fighting loneliness

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Do you write poetry? Then find a secluded corner, like a bench in the park or in the middle of a garden and take a pen and paper with you.   Do you enjoy a good massage? Schedule a good massage every so often and let the stress melt away from your body.   Do you love watching movies? Make it a point to catch a new one at least once a month.   When you do something that you enjoy, it feeds your soul and heals your shattered pieces. Just make sure that you set aside the guilt. Just because you have children that you’re missing does not mean that you can’t have fun.   Build your own support system   It could be a roommate, or a colleague who also has children back home. The important thing is that you know you have someone to run to when the going gets tough.   Connect with the people around you and build a support system. There are so many Filipino communities that you could join no matter where you are.   And you know what, your support group doesn’t even have to be an all-Filipino group. You could also make friends with other cultures. This would allow you to view your situation from different perspectives.  

Image Credit: Fenella Samano

  Schedule activities with your kids   Yup, just because you’re not together does not mean that you can’t do stuff with them. Schedule a family activity or two every week so that you can continue bonding with them despite not being together physically.  
scheduling via phone

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You can schedule study sessions for example, or have dinner at the same time while on a video call. If you guys have connectivity through mobile, you guys can even do your grocery shopping at the same time.   You can also play games with them online, or have one-on-one bonding sessions with each of your kids at different days.   Use your imagination. There are so many regular things that you can actually do together through the use of technology.   Visualize the future   Visualize the future and keep your eye on the prize. Nothing can make the bad vibes go away than remembering why you’re here in the first place.   Think about your future plans and make them as detailed as possible. If you’re planning to buy a house so that your family can stop renting, picture out how that house would look. If you want to open a business one day, think about what kind of business you want and how big you want it to be.   What’s going to make this even better is involving your kids in the entire visualization process. Ask them who they want to be and how they see themselves in the future. This way, you can paint a complete picture. Instead of dreading each passing day, you can actually wake up and have something to look forward to each time.   Special thanks to Fotogravirus for the main image.

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