I was sitting at a table in the middle of Times Square talking to my family on the phone. Having just gotten out of my last meeting for the day I wanted to check in before the kids went to bed. My son had done something wrong that day and I was scolding him about it. As I sat there surrounded by thousands of strangers, sky-high movie posters and blazing bright screens bigger than my house, I was disciplining my child. This was not something my father had ever had to do and it felt strange to me as I did it. Where had my life taken me that at the intersection of the world I was scolding my son on my phone?
I sat there long after I hung up the phone and thought about what had just happened. As a consultant, author, and speaker I spend a lot of time on the road. As long as I have a laptop and my phone I can work from anywhere in the world. The concept of the Dad who leaves the house in the morning, punches a clock and returns home for dinner is not the reality in the Chapman house.
Many think the road warrior lifestyle is one of luxury and fun, and that’s true if your idea of luxury and fun is delayed flights, strange hotel rooms and meals alone and away from the ones you love. While I have a constant case of wanderlust and I love travel, I don’t love being away from my family.
The more traveling I do, the more I like to establish little rituals to keep me and the family sane and connected.
- No matter how early I leave home before a trip, I always wake up my wife and kids enough to give them a hug and kiss and to remind them when I will be back. Nothing is worse then a child waking up in the morning and not knowing you left.
- Many times when I travel I bring something small and personal that belongs to each of my kids, usually a little stuffed animal. I keep them on the night stand in my hotel room. I take photos of them and send them back to the kids so that they can see I’m thinking about them. Plus, returning to the hotel room and seeing those tiny stuffed animals sitting there always brings a smile to my face and makes me feel a bit more connected to my kids.
- No matter where I am or what I’m doing, my wife and I always go through our good nights via text message. It isn’t the same as being there, but it works for us.
- I try to hear my kids’ voices at least once a day. No matter how busy I am, there is always five minutes I can sneak away to call home. This is harder then sneaking in a text, but so much more rewarding for both me and the family.
- Bringing home presents from the road is a life long tradition of road warriors, and my destination airport typically has what I need, usually a snow globe for my daughter and a keychain for my son. But sometimes I come home without souvenirs, and that’s okay: one Chapman house rule is if I haven’t been to the city before, the kids get something.
I’m sure that each of you has your own rituals and other ways to stay sane and connected to your families, and I want to hear them. Hopefully we can all survive our next road trip together.