One strategy I concocted was writing an email to the kids the nights I am away, for their father to read to them in the morning. The email comes with pictures of me holding a stuffed animal of theirs, so they can see it with me and be amused. Plot lines, and adventures were evolving around these stuffed animals. At work, I'd print the email and pictures (often tiny sizes of the pictures so I don't use up all my printer ink) and when I'm with the kids, I pass them along.
At my departure yesterday I was issued a list of demands:
Clara: Send us pictures Mummy!
Winton: With words on the back.
Clara: And I want mine separate from Winton's.
Winton: Take pigeon.
Clara: Wear your glasses, and don't put your hair down.
Winton: Take pigeon. And "I love Winton" on the back so I can make it a flappy picture with words on the back and have it on the wall by my bed. [He intends, I think, to tape one side of the picture to the wall and not the other so he can lift the flap and read my words when he chooses.]
Clara: I want mine separate from Winton's.
Winton: With words on the back. And pigeon.
Clara: And not too small. The picture shouldn't be too small. Print it at work. Ok, Mummy?
Winton: With words on the back so I can make a flappy.
Ok then! No story. Pictures of me. No hair down. Separate ones for each. Some loving sentiment on the back for them to refer to when needed.
Never mind my creative ideas re: plot lines and adventures. The children have spoken. And Mummy will deliver (or try to . . . Clara has something very specific in mind and in spite of direction I may not get it right. She is, after all, the child who had an epic meltdown at bedtime with me once because I smiled closed-lippedly rather than showing my teeth.)
I love my kids. Sweet, specific, demanding little bubs.