My body is on a business trip, but my mind is back home. While it’s nice to dress in clothes other than yoga pants and talk to grown ups about things other than diaper rash, Sesame Street and car seats, I’m ready to be home. Traveling for work (read: without the kids) never seems to get easier, although I’ve found a few ways to cope.
- Pack the memories along. I always bring lots of photographs of the kids with me, as well as a few recently snapped photos on my cell phone. That way, they’re always with me wherever I go. In addition, the print photos can help to brighten the sterile looking bathroom vanity and put a smile on my face.
- Pick up souvenirs. For each of my two little ones, I try to find something meaningful to give them from where I have been. When I was little, I always cherished the t-shirt, stuffed animal or other memento my father would bring back for me after returning from a business trip; I want my kids to feel special too.
- Phone home. I try to check in at least twice a day to talk to the kids and let them hear my voice. While my baby son can’t understand what I am saying, my toddler can, and she and I will chat for a few minutes about our days.
- Stay in the moment. Every day goes by so quickly, sometimes it’s hard to remember to stay in the moment. I try to stop myself when I start feeling sorry for myself or that I’m a bad mom because I am not home. Instead, I force myself to be present and to focus on the task at hand, whether it is giving a presentation or networking with colleagues, knowing in the back of my mind that I will be back home soon.
- Enjoy it. Take a moment to enjoy the present – the solitude of being able to go to the bathroom (or even take a bubble bath) without someone banging on the door or walking in on you. Order a glass of wine without worrying about how it might affect your milk. Go to bed early or stay in bed late, and remember these moments when the kids miss their naps and won’t stop bouncing off the walls.
Traveling alone for business can be challenging, but there are ways to cope – and even enjoy it a little bit.