Balancing Act: 6 Tips for Parents with Work Travel
Prepping for upcoming work travel away from your kids? Whether you are a mom, dad, grandparent or guardian, if you are raising kids and have to step away for travel, here are 6 tips to help navigate it!
I am fortunate to have a job I love that also allows me to travel 1-2x a month. Although it tugs at my heartstrings every time I leave, I love the opportunity my travel presents for our family to change up the routine a bit. More often than not, I return home to find my eldest raving about new experiences as result of me being out of town for a few days.
It’s not always smooth sailing, but if you find yourself traveling sans partner and kids, here are some tips for balancing it all:
1. Talk about it with your partner.
If it’s your first time heading out of town while your partner stays home, ask him or her how they’re feeling about it. Is there anything from your daily routine you can help prep ahead of time to make life a bit easier? Are there any key activities/events your partner will miss during your absence and is it feasible to hire a sitter to allow them to still participate/attend?
For example: if you help get your kids ready each day, consider laying out some outfits ahead of time. Similarly, if you tend to prepare your kids for after school sports/activities, you could pre-pack gear. If you are the meal planner or grocery shopper, consider stocking the fridge (or giving the green light for takeout) before you depart.
2. Talk about it with your kids.
You leaving town shouldn’t be a surprise to your kids. Talk to them about where you are going, how you will get there and how long you will be gone. With younger kids it may be more tangible to talk about how many “sleeps” you will be away and about the time of day (morning, noon, night) you will be returning. To help build excitement, consider detailing the fun or different things your kids will get to do while you are away!
For example: My partner is great at knowing which museums are open late during the week for post-daycare visits. There are also special picnic dinners in the park that take place, as well as new library books or Netflix shows that make an appearance when I am on the road.
3. Re-enter patiently.
Once you return home, be patient, listen and observe as you settle back into your family routine. Even though you have been gone, life at home continued to move forward in your absence. Let your partner be the expert and catch you up on family happenings before you dive back into parenting!
1. Set communication expectations.
When can your partner and kids expect to hear from you while you are out of town? Will you be in a different time zone? What will your daily schedule look like, are you likely to respond to texts/calls?
When I travel I enter a communication black hole. As I bounce from meeting to meeting, it is challenging to respond to calls/texts so it’s important I remind my family I will be a bit MIA. It is equally important for me to check on the best time to call/FaceTime. For example, we have found FaceTiming with my kids around dinnertime is a great distraction so my partner can tackle meal prep or clean up.
2. Compile Contacts.
Make sure your key contact (doctors, dentists, family members, etc.) information is up to date, and both you and your partner know where to access this information. If your kids are in school or daycare, consider letting teachers know when you are traveling so they know which parent to contact.
3. Plan surprises.
If it’s your first time being away or you will be gone for an extended period of time, consider leaving a note or small prize for your kids to receive halfway through your absence. Extra bonus points if you leave a surprise for your partner or caregiver!
Above all, go easy on yourself. There will be trips that will be simple and perfect for everyone involved, and other times your flight will get cancelled twice while your two-year old is busy contracting hand foot and mouth disease at daycare. Life happens; at the end of the day you, your partner and caregivers are all just doing your best to love and nurture your kids!
Do you have any tips or tricks to add? I would love to read your thoughts in the comments below!