Depending how often your spouse travels and how far and long he's away, keeping in touch can be quite a challenge. When my husband is on his regular rotation as a commercial pilot, we generally keep in touch with texts and short phone calls.
This gets a bit hairier when he's overseas, but thanks to international calling and hotel computers, he can usually send out a message to say "hello" and check in to see how I'm doing.
For longer trips, like his deployment last year to Afghanistan, we often used Google Mail IM, which, depending on how handed your spouse is with typing (mine is notably terrible), can be fantastic or frustrating.
However, it's one thing to keep in touch with your spouse. It's a whole other ball game to keep your spouse in touch with the kids, particularly little ones who tend to think of phones as toys and can't yet type anything but a bunch of jumbled letters on the keyboard.
It's oftentimes not even worth trying to have them talk on the phone, especially if you have to entice them with treats just to get them to say, "Hi!" And depending on your spouse's schedule, talking to them can actually be more disruptive than helpful.
With that in mind, here are two simple ways we've kept our family in touch while my husband was traveling:
Google Mail Video Chat
Now if you've got a Mac, which has the built-in camera, this is a quick and easy way to keep in touch. All you do is ping the other person like you would if you were trying to IM them and the video just pops right up. It can be a bit frustrating for little ones since the video is small and there's no sound, but it's pretty easy to use and free to set up. Of course, PC users will need to grab a webcam, but the prices on those are dropping rapidly.
Everyone seems to be using Skype to make phone calls and create video chats, and it's pretty intuitive for even the not so tech-savvy. Again, you'll need a web cam if you don't have one built into your computer, but you'll get much better quality and sound (hooray!) than you do in Google Mail Video Chat.
The great part about both of these options is that they can also be used to keep in touch with family and friends who are far away. So, if you are worried about investing in a web cam, it will definitely get more use than just for when your spouse is traveling. Three cheers for technology!
So tell me how you keep in touch with your spouse while he's gone. And if you're looking for more cool tech picks for moms like us, make sure to check out my new site Cool Mom Tech. Whether you're a self-proclaimed techie or you need help turning your computer on (ha!), I'm pretty sure you'll love it.
Photo from Flickr/The U.S. Army