I started a new job a few months ago, and one week later, I was flying to California for a work trip. Over the past 8 years, work travel has been a consistent part of my working mom life. Not only do I miss my girls (and husband) when I am away, but it can be hard for me to let go of the sense of control that I get when I am physically home to help them through our daily routine. Here are some tips for the mom who has to travel for work.
1. Prep well & make lists. I organize backpacks and lunches, lay out clothing options, rearrange the calendar if I can to ease the amount of “stuff” that my husband has to handle while I’m gone. I also create lists for my husband with what the girls have scheduled or what they need to complete each day. I have found that making these lists are less about whether they will be followed perfectly (they won’t!) and more about easing my mind that I haven’t forgotten anything.
2. Read about the destination. My two older daughters love to hear about my travel destinations and always have so many questions. My work travel has been mostly to New York and the Los Angeles area, so we have read stories (like the Kitty Kat, Kitty Kat, Where have you been? books) or looked online for what makes each of these places unique.
3. Alert backup. My husband is so good about juggling it all during my work travel. However, I still make sure that I let my family members who live close to us know when I will be out of town in case he runs into a situation where he may need some help.
4. Leave love notes. I have done everything from one hurried note written on a scrap piece of paper to special notes in cute little envelopes each day. It really depends on the length of the trip or whether my trip falls over a special day (holiday or birthday).
5. Facetime/send videos. I like sending videos, especially if our schedules prevent us from having a good conversation when the girls are home and awake. This is especially great for our youngest, who isn’t the best at talking on the phone yet and really just wants to see my face and hear my voice.
6. Take special pictures. As we have read about what makes each place different from where we live, my daughters have requested to see those special things. That could mean a picture of Times Square, the carousel in Bryant Park, a line of yellow taxis, a palm tree, the ocean, etc. It makes them, even in a tiny way, a part of the trip, and it is fun to see how excited they get to see the pictures of the places I’ve been.
7. Bring back a souvenir. This does not always mean buy something. I’ve brought home packets of airplane peanuts that my girls loved. It just is a sweet reminder to them that I’m thinking of them when I’m away.
I know firsthand that as a mom, work travel can be hard. But I hope this helps ease some of the mom guilt and anxiety over your next work (or personal) trip away from your kids. Remember, moms. You can do this! The kids will be all right.