As parents, we all know there is no “right” or “wrong” way to complete another day of parenthood successfully. For most of us, parenthood is a huge part of our identities, and it prompts us to reflect on our efforts as a parent. If you are like most working moms who travel to work regularly, you may often feel a sense of guilt for leaving your child home each day, especially when those days become overnights.
Work travel is tough on everyone in the family, especially the kids. There are a few things to cope with the short-term disruption and refocus your energy on what truly matters: ensuring that your child feels safe, happy, and loved, no matter what.
1. Announcing The Upcoming Trip
Kids, young kids especially, like visuals. Tell your kid where you are going and show them some pictures of the location. Follow their lead, and share as much or as little information about the trip as needed. Explain the trip as an exciting adventure you can’t wait to tell them about when you get home. Once back, don’t forget to share the fun – spend time talking about the things you got to see. Consider bringing back a piece of where you went. You may ask him, ‘What foods can I bring for you? Should I bring the Spider-Man or the Peppa Pig socks?’ In that process, your kids will come to terms with the emotional part too.
Google Calendar is a great tool scheduling and events tool. You can keep track of everything from trip info to scheduling any events before the trip. Spend a few minutes at the beginning of the week to make sure your important info and the week’s activities are on there.
If you feel overwhelmed and out of ideas, there’s help in the form of books. Many books particularly address the problem of parents who need creatives while traveling for work.
2. Packing Together
It all comes down to the prep, no matter whether you are preparing for emergencies at home or traveling for work. “But we hardly maintain the level of preparedness when we get into our car, van, or truck,” says Karen Morris, author of Mom on the Run: Prepping for Life’s Emergencies When You’re Away from Home. In this book, Karen has offered practical advice in easy-to-follow ways, so moms on the go can leave no stone unturned in preparedness.
Also, let your kid help you prepare for the trip. Helping you pack will make the child feel included in your plan and reduce their anxiety. They may even have a few things they would like for you to take, which could bring you a well-needed laugh in the days to come. You can also use it as an opportunity to teach them how to pack a suitcase properly. Getting children to make their very own lists is a straightforward method to begin. With a decent packing list, you are off to a great start.
First, tell your kids about where you are going, what you will do, and when you will return. Help them pick a suitable suitcase for you. At this point, urge them to make their lists and remind them they all need to fit in the suitcase. Then go through the lists with them and help them make changes. Get them to include things they’ve ignored and exclude things you don’t need. Urge them to be selective and think light. Let them pick and assemble the things they know about, placing them in a heap and marking them off the list while you take care of the important stuff. It will be a worthwhile investment in their learning process and your travel sanity.
“Try to maintain the routine. My husband knows the drill as we don’t deviate and my kids know what to expect,” one mom on a Reddit group suggested.
3. Leaving Behind Reminders
Children of all ages experience separation anxiety when their mother is gone. Giving a child something that reminds them of their mom can reduce separation anxiety. Leaving gifts or notes behind for them to find is a good strategy to aid your anxious child. You can also give them a special object to hold onto or, for infants and younger kids, a piece of clothing or a photo will keep your presence in the home.
The night is the time when kids need their mom the most. They miss the bedtime stories when you’re away. You can either record yourself reading a bedtime story or sit down together and read a book before you leave to help them identify, cope, and work through their worries. When I Miss You is a perfect book for a mom to read to her little one. This wonderful book gives a sneak peek into what happens when you and your child separate in a very reassuring and child-friendly way. Kids love to see themselves and their feelings reflected in visuals and stories, and this book fulfills just that.
4. Saying Goodbyes When You Travel for Work
It’s important to say goodbye and let them know that you will be back. Share with them things you will do on the trip and things you will bring for them. Having something to look forward to will bring a smile to their face and will set the tone for smooth goodbyes.
Many of us try to slip out the door when they aren’t home or while they are sleeping because we don’t want to see them upset or chasing after us. This approach can have some potentially negative impacts on your kids.
It’s best to keep goodbyes short and sweet when dads or moms travel for work. Learn how to make those goodbyes go a lot smoother, like when the kids are immersed in painting, out riding their bicycles, or heading over to a neighbor’s house for a playdate, and come up with tactics for making mom or dad’s time away from home more bearable, and even fun.
5. Using Technology to Stay Connected
In today’s connected world, staying in touch with kids is easy when moms travel for work. But you need to figure out first what works best for your kids and your travel schedule. Most moms either use their iPad or Phones for video calling. So if your schedule permits, you don’t want to miss the bedtime stories! And finding your little kids are happily going on with their day may help you go on with yours.
However, it doesn’t work well for all in the way of video calls. In these situations, encourage your kids to do something whenever they miss Mom: Draw a picture of Mom or make a video to share with Mom.
The Nixplay Digital Photo Frame is a great tool for sharing family photos and videos. Anyone can send pictures directly to the frame from anywhere. Every time you get a new picture of your kid, it will feel like a present when you see it in your frame. It’s such a wonderful gift to keep them connected with you.
6. Return with Lots of Love and Gifts
After a long week of meetings and presentations, the first thing you want to do is get home and take a warm/cold shower. But your kids need your attention more than anything. When you arrive home, try to spend at least 15 minutes with the kids. Lie or Sit next to them on the bed, talk with them, and give kisses and hugs.
And, of course, remember to bring them some souvenirs when you return. It will bring a smile to your child’s face and remind you of your wonderful time on the trip. And if you come home empty-handed, don’t worry about it. You can fix that. Amazon has authentic souvenir items from the 50 states and countries ranging from Canada to India. With an Amazon Prime membership, you can choose to receive FREE Same-Day Delivery on a broad selection of souvenir items.
Don’t forget to appreciate your partner once you get home. It’s fine if you find the house a total mess. Instead of being overwhelmed, give yourself and your partner some time to decompress. Take a slow approach to work around the shift in parenting and responsibilities.
7. Take Kids with You if Possible
Like most parents, you might think traveling with your child is a horrible idea. Yes, it’s stressful, but there are benefits to bringing your child on a business trip. When your child is with you on business travel, you squash the intense mommy guilt that’s common among most working moms.
It also offers opportunities to explore your child’s understanding of just how large and diverse the world is. If you travel for work at least somewhat regularly, don’t miss such a wonderful opportunity to expose your child to new languages and cultures now and then.
Finally, To All The Moms Who Travel For Work
Preparing for work travel depends a lot on your child’s age and your family situation. When you are a new mom, make travel a topic of discussion with your boss. Lean towards no international travel for the first year of motherhood and limit travel as much as possible during that time.
It still can be challenging if you have older kids. However, you can approach the opportunity in a positive light. A little parental separation can be healthy for kids. It gives your husband and kids some special time together and helps the kids gain more independence in their typically mom-centric world. With some little trial and error, you will figure out how to prepare your child for your travels and the best way to feel close when you’re far away.