How a Corporate Traveling Mom Balances It All
Joyce Serano is a working, traveling mother who has worked hard to achieve the most elusive of goals – balance. She has balance in her career, her family life, and her mind is at ease with the decisions she has made for her family. How did she do it? She left NYC for the midwest for one thing. Serano shared her story and her secrets with TravelingMom.com.
First of all, she is a very smart, successful woman with a full life on her plate. An Ivy League MBA, Serano runs a marketing division in a corporate setting, and raises two boys, ages 8 and 11, who are both very active in sports and after-school activities. She works by choice, and her husband also holds a professional position.
An extra benefit of being a working mom is that Serano’s sons have been exposed to a special paradigm for what it means to be a woman.
Business Trips – From Long to Short
Her travel schedule has adapted and changed as her children have gotten older. When the boys were very young, Serano traveled to Asia frequently, for 10- to 12-day stretches at a time. The toll was emotionally and physically grueling. Time differences and sleep deprivation left her little energy for her children when she returned from these long journeys. “When one of my son’s first words was ‘Mommy Hong Kong,’ I decided I needed to find something else to do with my professional life,” says Serano.
“I was very guilt-ridden and knew that many of his developmental milestones were flying by – I felt awful,” she shares. In retrospect, she knows her young son was not making a value judgment against her, and his needs were being met while she was away, but she still felt a better balance could be achieved.
Serano changed jobs and now travels on average only four or five nights a month, usually just a night or two each week. Organization and short duration trips are key to it all. She lays out a list of what needs to get done while she is away, and life doesn’t veer far off track since she’ll soon be home to correct any problem.
A great au pair also makes the family’s routines function smoothly when both parents work, as Serano has found out. (See Sidebar story – Selecting an Au Pair – for sage advice on this important topic for working mothers)
More Time Together
The extra time home has been essential to her kids’ development as they have grown older. The tween to teen years are a time of tremendous emotional growth, and by being present for her sons Serano is able to see what friends and relationships they choose, and what the boys do in their free time – in short, she helps shape the adults they will become.
The Corporate Connection
Serano is fortunate to work for a company that values employee family time as well. In fact, she has been able to bring her children to weekend work events her company holds, as well as bringing them to the office to see exactly where she goes and what she does when she is away from home.
This has been a huge benefit to their peace of mind as well as hers. “For the times when they are not with me, they still have a context for what I’m doing because they have experienced it firsthand,” she explains. Working in a fun side trip when her son joins her on a trip also makes for great memories of business travel for both mother and child.
Today’s Role Model
An extra benefit of being a working mom is that Serano’s sons have been exposed to a special paradigm for what it means to be a woman. “I have boys who know what women can and are doing in their lifetime,” she says proudly. While being a role model for her boys, she has achieved inner peace for herself, a balance that comes from being a fulfilled human being. “I am a better mother because I work,” says Serano. “Because I am able to balance my career, my need for intellectual stimulation, which truly comes for me out of the professional workplace, I am a better, more focused, caring mom when I am with my kids.”