Making a Going Away Chart

Making a Going Away Chart | Perks of Being a JAP |
I go away pretty frequently for work – in total about six to seven times a year. It’s less trips than my last job where I could travel up to one to two times a month (or more) but the trips are longer with this job – up to a week at a time away from home instead of two to four days.

As Sadie gets older she is more affected by my time away from home which makes sense because she’s only getting more cognizant. She’s a very well behaved girl in general and she wasn’t misbehaving when I was gone but she did start to exhibit different behavior the week I was gone. She would be over sensitive that week or start putting things in her mouth at school she shouldn’t – small things like that. I figured that she needed a tool to help her keep track of the time I am gone so she could count down to me coming back. So the mommy away chart was born! It’s been super helpful for her and we’ve even used it for Dave when he’s gone on skiing trips. It’s super simple as you’ll see from the instructions below!

First gather your materials. You will need:

  • A piece of construction paper
  • Brightly colored markers (I’m OBSESSED with Sharpies)
  • Stickers – enough for each day you’re gone. We like to use heart stickers!
  • Washi Tape – because why use regular tape when you can use washi tape!

Making a Going Away Chart | Perks of Being a JAP |
Write the header of your chart. We always call ours “Sadie Faye’s Mommy (or Daddy) Chart”. Simple lettering and some bright colors.

Making a Going Away Chart | Perks of Being a JAP |
Then you want to block out each day that you will be gone and make a box for that day so your child can place a sticker in it. I also write a little note, “A sticker a day for when Mommy (or Daddy) is away!” And I put a heart (or a heart-like shape haha) around the last box so she knows that’s the day I come home!

Making a Going Away Chart | Perks of Being a JAP |
And you’re set! Tape your going away chart to your wall (at child height) with some fun washi tape and make sure the stickers are readily available. (Don’t mind the masking tape behind the chart – that was from Dave’s going away chart that Sadie didn’t want to take down yet.)

Making a Going Away Chart | Perks of Being a JAP |
Six days later and you have our finished chart!

Making a Going Away Chart | Perks of Being a JAP |
I really can’t stress 1) how easy this is and 2) how much it’s helped Sadie when I go away. Toddlers have very little concept of time (Sadie still says that everything in the past happened “last years” or now we’ve moved onto everything happening “this morning”) and the day by day countdown nature of the chart makes my time away from home tangible and something she can easily grasp. Whenever I speak to her when I am away I ask her how many stickers are left until I come home and she knows the answer – it’s great!)

If you or your partner travels for work do you have a coping mechanism that you use with your kids? I’d love to hear about it!


  1. What a good idea! For now, Izzy is okay with me telling her that “Daddy went on an airplane but we will talk to him on the iPad tonight” but I don’t know how long that is going to last. I assume we may need to do something like this at some point in the future.
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    • Yeah we only recently hit this stage where she’s aware that I’m gone, gets upset about it and doesn’t know the days/time so the chart definitely helps!

  2. Oh, this is just a delightful idea!! How cute!!

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  3. What a great idea! It’s amazing how something so simple (to us) can mean so much to our kiddos. And I’m with you on washi tape + bright colored markers. Have you seen/heard of Tombow markers? I use them for my adult coloring/zen time and I can’t get enough of them. I just wish they had more bright colors for me to buy!

  4. Well this is just the cutest way to pass the days when you’re gone. Love it.

  5. Adorable idea! So cute!

  6. This is such a great idea for military kids. Filing this away in my memory bank!

  7. Is it crazy that I do an adult version of this for Dan with my work travel schedule? LOL

  8. Aileen Johnston says

    My daughter is 4 in July and since she was born her daddy (my hubby) has worked away on a regular basis. Up until May last year he worked away for 2 weeks and then was completely at home for 2. Last May his rota changed so he now works away for 3 and then comes home for 3. I think because this has always been the norm for us, she does cope really well and it does help that a lof of the parents of her little friends do pretty much the same. In Aberdeen a lot of people work offshore and all have similar shift patterns. We tick boxes on the calendar until it gets down to 10 sleeps and then every morning after that we also count down on our fingers. This helps her understand how long he is away for and also helps her with the counting. We have only had one tantrum once and that was because his flight was delayed for a few days because of fog and being 3 at the time, she could not process that it was not my fault he wasn’t coming home!

  9. This is a super great idea. I’m going to have to pass this along to my brother for their kids. They don’t currently travel much, but they may need it for when mimi and papaw are vacationing. ๐Ÿ˜‰ Or really, just anything where it could help them understand the concept of time.

  10. This is so smart! I don’t have kids, obviously, but this is a good thing to keep in mind for the future & for friends whose kids are having issues. Nice.
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  1. […] 4. What do you enjoy doing with me? Uhh… Putting up the go – away chart. […]


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