It’s possible to bring the kids along on a business trip and have everyone end up happy. Let’s face it. It can be a challenge taking your family with you on a business trip if the traveling mom is the working parent.

When it comes to going on a family vacation adventure, kids inevitably will want you to be there for everything they do, whether or not you have meetings to attend or your presence is required at the client dinner. Guilt quickly settles in and stress levels rise when you’re trying to pull the briefcase through the door and your little ones are tugging on your jacket, begging you to join them instead for a day at the park.

But there are ways to combine professional travel with family fun.

Set realistic expectations for your kids. Talk to your children in advance. Explain that while you’re excited to have them along and look forward to spending time together, you’ll first have to do your job.

Set realistic expectations for you. Remember that the primary purpose of the trip is business. Keep your head in that game and make sure you not only get your work done, but make time for networking and connecting with business associates.

Follow company rules. Make sure bringing the family along, no matter how invisible they’ll be, is acceptable in your company’s culture. Always keep your business expenses separate from any family spending and hold onto the paperwork as a record.

Make your business their business. Share what you’ll be doing at work while they’re off exploring the city with Dad, Grandma, or the nanny. If you’ve rented a car, get dropped off so the kids can see where you’ll be, or walk them through the hotel conference center where you’ll be meeting.

Plan appearances
. While you may be pining to sneak in a visit to watch the kids swim in the pool during your 15 minute break, think twice. Out of sight, out of mind is valuable advice, particularly when children are young. Though a quick hug may alleviate your guilt, having only a few minutes of mommy time just reminds little ones you’re close by but not with them.

Set the rules on texting
. Older children may want to text you throughout the day to share what they’re doing, but set limits.  Allow them one or two “touch base texts” a day; otherwise, make it clear that calls to your cell are for emergencies only.

Clock out when work’s over. When the weekend finally arrives, turn off work and turn your attention to the family.

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