Don't let your kids simply accept your travelling as a way of life. Explain why it's important for you to make those frequent trips. And time zones notwithstanding, make sure you talk to them at least once a day. Also, ensure that they know you're accessible to them whenever they feel like talking to you. Encourage them to call you, send you emails, etc. instead of simply being around when you call.
Fortunately, we live in the tech era, not the trunk call one, so use it to bridge the gap. With mobiles, Skype, BBM, WhatsApp, SMS, email, Facebook, (the list is endless), there's no excuse not to tell bedtime stories, get 'how was your day at school?' updates, and basically be as accessible as possible...
Sancha Dutta from Kolkata uses technology to do things she would have been doing with her son if she were at home. She dedicates half an hour every day to playing chess with her 11-year-old son every time she's travelling. A ritual that her son can't wait to continue even when she's home.
Set a ritual
High-flying marketing guru, Navroze Dhondy has taken his kids to school every day for the past 17+ years-every day that he's home, that is. "My travelling has only increased in the last few years. But this ritual, that I've had since my daughter was four (she's now 21, my son's in the 11th) has helped me stay connected to the kids. It's our bonding time, where a lot of questions are asked, connections are made. Waking up early has certainly been worth it!"
Keep it real
"Leaving everything to the maids and the drivers creates an unhealthy world for the kids," says Navroze. So even if you're away a lot, when you can, make a special effort to do the small, seemingly insignificant things-combing their hair, making their tiffin-not just contribute to the 'bigger' occasions.
Being there for the 'big' times
Don't you remember running in to your dad's arms when you lost the tennis championship by a whisker when you were in the sixth? Or that sepia-toned Diwali when the whole family was together, just before your brother went off to hostel?
No matter how much you travel or how important your job is, your role or absence on some days will be forever etched in your kids' memories. Is there an annual day, sports day, birthday, festival coming up? Try realigning your schedule to be around for important days.
To deal with their guilt for being away, a lot of parents go overboard with gifts. While it's nice to bring back souvenirs and presents that they've asked for, don't become Santa Claus. And don't ever bring back presents without checking with your partner first. Remember that your spouse is filling in for you while you're away, single-handedly playing bad cop. It isn't fair to your partner if you undermine their authority in front of the kids.
Is one of you a parent-in-absentia? How do you stay connected to your kids? If you have any cool rituals that make it easier to handle the distance, do tell us and other parents who might be in the same situation.