Work, travel and motherhood don’t always play well together. One can supersede the other, causing stress for both mom and child. However, there are some ways to cope. Here’s what I have learned as a traveling businessmom, working in a home office.

 

  • Be present when you’re present. One of the first things I learned as a mom was that, no matter what I was doing, I needed to focus my attention on it. Sounds obvious, right? Try composing an e-mail with a wiggly baby on your lap who cannot decide whether or not he wants to nurse. Instead of trying to multi-task (something all parents try to do at one point or another, with varying degrees of success), I try to remember to focus on the present. Whether it is completing an e-mail message or a game of “Ring Around the Rosie”, it’s important to focus. Not only does it make the task at hand easier to finish, but it also places your attention on what’s important.

  • Plan ahead. If motherhood has taught me just one thing, it’s to be prepared. While the unexpected is called that for a reason, there are some things that you can plan for. Have a few healthy prepared meals in the freezer in case you get called away or have to work late. Keep the fridge stocked as best you can so weeknight meals are easy to throw together. Also, keep the diaper bag packed for any unexpected excursions out with the baby.

  • Have a backup caretaker. My husband is the primary daytime caretaker, but when neither of us is available, we have a few people nearby whom we can call on to watch the kids. Friends, relatives and neighbors are all good candidates when you need someone to babysit for a little when we’re working late or just need to get something done. We’ve found that, most times, people are more than happy to help – as long as you don’t call on them too often.

  • Set boundaries. My kids know that when Mom is at “work” in the home office, she’s not available. Dad, however, is. Also, by keeping set hours, the kids know that when the time is up, I’m there for them.

  • Plan special time. Whether you work or are a stay at home parent, it’s important to spend special time alone with each child. My husband and I each have certain tasks and rituals that only we do with each child; for example, my husband puts our daughter to bed at night and I wake her up in the morning. She enjoys this time alone with each of us, and we cherish it as well.

It’s not easy being a working mom, but there are ways to cope. What’s more, I like to think that I am setting a good example for my daughter — that it can be possible to have a career and be a mom at the same time.