Today I am on my way to Philadelphia to visit my sister and new niece for a few days. This will be the longest I have been away from my girls since Peanut was born, so I asked my friend Sara, who travels frequently, to share her experiences.
I am a mom and I travel for work. A lot.
I get asked all the time, “How do I do it?” I travel about 10 to 12 weeks a year for work and have done so for the last 10 years; the last five I have done so as a parent. I really couldn’t do it without my husband. He makes it possible for me to have a career I love and I know that my kids will be fine, if not better than when I left for my trip. He has broken bottle habits, night waking and tackled many other tough transitions while I have been traveling.
If you are expecting a list of tips for the traveling mom that include color coding meals, laying out clothes or leaving pages of detailed instructions for my husband, you won’t get that. We are equal partners and that means that when I travel, I know that he is fully capable of feeding and dressing our children. I think it would be demeaning to feel like I needed to prep the week for my husband. Instead I try to do things that won’t make the week harder on him.
One of the things I do is try to avoid scheduling doctor or dentist appointments for when I travel. He can and has handled the occasional appointment, but overall, anything I can remove from his schedule the week I travel is always welcomed.
I try to plan my flights so that I leave while they kids are asleep or while they are at school to avoid the inevitable meltdown. I also try to respect their schedule at nights. My evening might free up as soon as it’s bedtime, which isn’t really the best time to call and try to FaceTime with the kids since it gets them all riled up. So, even though I want to talk to the boys, I have to be OK with being told that it’s too late and we can try tomorrow. You never want to make things worse for the parent who is at home.
While I am on the road, I send postcards to the boys from each city I go to. I also don’t bring something home from every trip. That was a mistake I made early on and when I was greeted at the door with “What did you bring me?” I realized I had created a monster. So now, it’s only if I find something that I know they would really enjoy and not some tchotchke from the airport gift shop.
When I get home from my trips, I try not to comment on the state of the house and just give bigs hugs to my boys and thank my husband for all that he does by letting him nap.
Sara McGinness is a Senior Event Operations Manager for a large events-led marketing company, producing trade shows and conferences around the country. She lives in Reno, Nev., with her two sons, 5 and 1, her two dogs and her husband.