I love my kids. I love my job. In that order. But I love them both. I also don’t believe that total work/life balance is achievable, but I do believe that the work/life pendulum is. Some days you need to lean into work and other days you need to lean into family. It’s all a sweet pendulum.
Now that that’s stated, let’s unpack the topic of being a mom who travels for work. Every now and then my working mom friends and I get these questions:
"How do you travel and take care of your kids?"
"Oh nooooo. You have to travel again?"
"Do you like being on the road so much?"
Some are really curious and sometimes it feels like others want me to say I feel guilty for traveling. So let's start with me asking a question that I often want to snap back, but always hold my tongue: "Would you ask a Dad these questions?"
And then there are others that say things like: "I wish I could travel. It would be nice to take a break."
Work travel allows me to work with amazing people across the world. It allows me to see really cool cities even if sometimes it's only while driving to and from the meeting location. (This answers the above question about if work travel is a nice "break". 😉) It allows me to be exposed to different types of people in different geographies widening my thoughts. It allows our agency to grow nationally and globally having further reach and impact. It also allows my kids to see me live a life of continued learning and experiences. It allows my son to grow up seeing a woman as the traveling business person. It allows my daughter to see that you can be a mom and not let societal expectations get in the way of also having a career.
And as a family we do some fun things to make it a shared experience:
Make it a learning game
Before I head out, the kids and I look at the map. We look at where the city is on the map and learn about geography. It’s also fun to learn about what the city is known for. Use available tools to make it easy: At Carmichael Lynch we provide new moms with a service that ships breast milk (a.k.a., liquid gold) home safely and appropriately refrigerated. That way moms can pump more, focus on work, and stress less. Find these types of things that make it easier and use them.
Enlist technology to be part of the family routine
FaceTime is a great way to keep in touch while kids are brushing their teeth before bed or a good way to read bedtime stories together. Sometimes I think we actually have more focused conversations on FaceTime because it’s time that is set aside to really listen to each other and talk.
Bring them along with you with technology
FaceTime is also a fun way to show them the city. My kindergartener loves it when I FaceTime him so we can count the taxis down on the street from the hotel room in New York. I often send the kids pictures of landmarks or views from hotel rooms.
Read books about the city
Pop-up books for little ones are a great way to revisit the city and talk about the trip. Or check-out books from the library about the city and things it’s known for ahead of time.
Of course, there are times when working parents have to miss a soccer game or other things, which can be really hard. But with good planning, being open to the swinging pendulum and continued new ways to share through technology, most of the time being a working, traveling parent is joyful.
And I would be entirely remiss if I didn’t say that I know I am blessed to have a supportive partner who doesn’t have to travel for his job. I commend the families that coordinate two travel schedules. I can’t even! And a huge recognition for single parents that pull off miracles of coordination every day. We see you – and you are amazing. Here’s to fellow working parents who are changing the norms and doing what works for their families instead of worrying about what others think they should do.