My job requires travel – and not the glamourous kind. I mean the kind where I find myself sitting in a Marriot-brand hotel room listening to the hum of a broken ice machine in Norman, Oklahoma, while I contemplate my dining options at the local Bar & Grille (added ‘e’ because it’s fancy). Thankfully at this point, my kids are toddlers and young enough that the time away is harder on me than them. Sometimes I cry because I miss my kids, other times I enjoy reading a book by myself. But, I like my job. And travel is a part of my job, so I travel.
Over the years, I’ve come up with a few pointers to help get through traveling for work as a Mom. And if these don’t help, you can find your closest grocery store and buy a pint of Ben & Jerry’s, because that can help too. I speak from experience.
Step #1 – prepare your family. I like to tell my kids a few days in advance that I’m leaving and when I’ll be back. Books like Penguin Misses Mom are great at explaining situations that I’m just not equipped to do without crying. I also like to prepare a few dishes for my husband for dinner, because the thought of half a dozen moldy pizza boxes hiding in the garbage is chilling to me. Be sure to check out CMB’s own freezer breakfast ideas here and Pinterest catalogs roughly 2.3 million recipes for freezer meals. Sometimes I’ll hide post-it notes for my husband (so he doesn’t feel like my employee) or spray my perfume on my kids’ blankets – just little reminders that I’m still there. Lastly, call in your reserves or your extended family when you need help. My sisters are lifesavers for providing a break of sanity for my husband, even if it’s just for the company.
On the Road Again
While I’m traveling, I like to FaceTime with my family or as I like to call it – EarTime – because I see a lot of their ears, foreheads and toes. The twins aren’t quite media savvy yet, so FaceTime with my twins involves a lot of “don’t touch that red but…” before I’m abruptly disconnected. I do it because I love them and I NEED to see them. You can even watch a television show together or a have a staring contest. During this time, I rely heavily on my husband and nanny when I’m gone to keep my kids’ routine running smoothly. Have trust that your husband knows how to put pants on your children and turn the dishwasher on. Side note to our dear dads, don’t be this dude. Please and thank you. Also, I request daily pictures from my husband and nanny. And not just any picture. I need a time stamp. My husband tries to slide one through from several months ago, but I know all there is to know.
Honey, I’m Home (because I’m Shania Twain in my head alone).
When you do return home – be prepared. It can be exhausting traveling all day, but somehow, someway, find the energy to give your family quality time upon your return. Also, my husband typically needs a break in a big way, like a six-pack kinda way. I also like to bring little gifts home to my kids. My kids especially love hotel keys and the red Delta blankets. Only the finest for my children.
When all else fails, think of all the tantrums you’ve missed over the wrong colored t-shirt, the fights over toys you didn’t referee(for which there are probably two of!) and the dinners you didn’t have to prepare for your tiny soldiers who refuse to eat them. Godspeed, traveling Moms!