Working Mom: 5 Tips for Easier Work Travel
When I was putting myself through college, I worked as a waitress at the airport. I remember watching the women business travelers and thinking of how fun and glamorous that life would be. Well, I’m now that traveler, and I have to tell you it’s not that fun and it’s not that glamorous. Traveling as a working mom can be a stressful, guilt-ridden, hot mess. It doesn’t have to be. Work travel can be an enjoyable experience and help you catch some “me” time and allowing your kids to form a tighter bond with your spouse. Follow these tips to make work travel easier on everyone.
Preparation is Key
The moment you find out you have a travel commitment, start planning. I have found that you really can’t prepare enough. I plan out every detail of who will be watching my kids, when, and where. I try to always have a backup plan because, well you know, life. Let your partner and family members know as early as possible so they can start planning as well.
I always make sure that I go to the store and get anything that my family could possibly need while I’m traveling for work. I’m pretty sure my husband thinks that toilet paper and diapers appear out of thin air. My confidence level is not high that he would know when to get said items or where to buy them. While part of me wants to leave him high and dry so he can live a day in my life, I love my children (and him) so I just do it for them. At the very least it provides me peace of mind so I can focus on my work while I’m gone and not if my house has adequate toilet paper.
I try to leave a very detailed meal plan while I’m gone to take the guesswork out of meal time. Sometimes they follow the plan, and sometimes they eat pizza and popcorn for three days straight. Whatever makes them happy. At least I have that peace of mind I so desperately need when I’m away. Before my trip, I run to the grocery store and get any items that they may need while I am gone, including snacks. I like to wash and portion out as much as I can so it easier for them to just grab whatever they need. I like to make it as easy as possible for my husband, it helps alleviate some of that dreaded guilt and stress.
I always look for ways to stay connected while I am gone. Whether it be a little surprise I leave for them to find or notes that I leave for them in their lunchbox. Little things to helpTechnology makes it much easier to stay connected. I try to stay connected through sending pictures back and forth. My son is really into trains so when I was taking the tram to my concourse, I made sure to snap a pic and send to him. It makes me feel that he is included in my adventures. The highlight of my day is our nightly FaceTime sessions. Although, I will admit my first Facetime session with my oldest was a disaster. It was my first time away from him so I was already feeling incredibly emotional. We get on FaceTime and he starts sobbing hysterically the moment he sees me. He was sobbing, I was sobbing, and my poor husband was trying to pick up the pieces. Hot mess. Moral of the story is just doing what is best for you and your kids. If you or your kids aren’t ready for FaceTime, don’t FaceTime. You want to try to minimize any discomfort as much as possible for everyone’s sake.
Make it Fun
I’m not above providing positive reinforcement (ahem, bribery) for my children. In fact, this makes my working mom world go ’round. We have started a tradition of bringing home a little toy/souvenir from each of my work trips. I typically just pick up something in the airport on the way home. My kids love this and look forward to it every time. I get to make my kids happy thus alleviating my mom guilt, they get a fun new thing. Win-win! I also try to get a souvenir that is specific to the area that I traveled, turning it into a teachable moment. If you don’t want to buy your kids something (I get the whole “I can’t stand one more thing in my house” thing), plan a special outing when you get back so you all have something to look forward to. A trip to the park, library, or family movie night would do the trick.
What tips do you have for work travel? Leave a comment below!
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