Road jobs have a way of becoming a lifestyle. As someone who routinely spends more nights per week on hotel sheets than her own I can attest to that. Travel becomes so much a part of who we are that we consider our lifestyle normal. Here are my 5 easy hints to create a work-life balance in a world that can involve tucking your kids in by Skype each night!
1- Create a weekly routine.When I say routine, I don’t mean a schedule of events or bedtimes- I mean a meaningful activity that you can do together as a family to ground your go-go lifestyle. For us, Saturday is my favorite day of the week. Every Saturday morning we bundle little Y up, put the dog’s collar on and either walk or drive (weather depending) to our locally owned coffee shop. I get the baked oatmeal (super-yum), my husband gets a sausage and egg panini, the dog lays on a towel at our feet and we chat about the week. If it is Rex’s time on our coast he tells us all about how school is and what he wants to be for Halloween (he believes in planning all year long). Our neighbor’s have a standing meetup time for coffee and we can catch up with everyone else on our street as well. Sometimes it is so wholesome I feel like the scene should be playing out in black and white. Those kinds of simple routines can make the entire week feel normal.
2- You can be a hands on mom or a hands on housekeeper. Choose one. If you are gone during the week the house is bound to get beat up in your absence. My husband goes above and beyond what I expect while I’m gone but between kids, a dog, a grumpy rabbit and mud season the house suffers. Keep things simple. We have a minimal amount of furniture and we clean as needed. Laundry gets washed, dishes get done, the fridge gets cleaned out weekly, and the floors are swept and vacuumed. But perfection? We are far from it. In fact a good friend who was over for brunch recently said “Don’t take this the wrong way, but your kitchen is much neater than normal.” In the long run no one is going to say “She always kept a spotless house.” However, if your child gets in trouble with the law later on there will be talk about the time you spent or didn’t spend with them growing up. If you can’t stand a few dustbunnies hire the occasional maid service. Let’s face it, it’ll be cheaper in the long run than therapy.
3- Do errands on weeknights or weekend nights. I am not willing to cut into my family time to cross grocery shopping off my list. In addition, stores will be most crowded during the day which means that you’ll spend longer in them. Use your travel time to your advantage. I use plane time and hotel nights to write out grocery lists, errand lists, pay bills and write. Doing busy work while away from my family allows me to be more present for them when I am at home. Then after a great day with family, we put the kids to bed and I run to the grocery store. My husband gets to sit and read quietly and everyone is happy.
4- Don’t listen to toxic people. Mommy-guilt. It’s very real and it can be consuming. Is your job causing you to miss out on normal life. Will your daughter do all her “firsts” while you are in a Hilton somewhere in Wisconsin? Moms torture themselves enough over whether they are doing things right- even if they are at home everyday! There are reasons why you are doing your job- money, experience, self-satisfaction, to set an example…… don’t let other folks discount those reasons. I recently had someone in my life who spent a lot of time telling me that my husband “was a saint to deal with my travel schedule” and I allowed it to cause me far more anguish than it should have. Block out the naysayers. Surround yourself with supportive people.
5- Don’t expect perfection. Traveling moms Disney-fy their time home in their heads. You’re on your way home, knowing you’ll only be there for two short days. In your mind the children are smiling, your husband is charming, the sun is shining and the dog is playing a spirited game of fetch. Then you get home. The dog pooped on the carpet, it’s pouring rain, your kids are screaming with snot running down their faces, your poor husband can’t take another minute of their screaming and your bubble is burst. Real life happens when you are gone and it will sure as heck happen when you are home. Be realistic about your time at home and enjoy the very real moments of family life.
How do other traveling moms out there maximize on their time at home? Any good tips?