Maria Bailey, co-founder of www.bluesuitmom.com and www.newbaby.com logs 100,000-plus miles each year as a traveling mom. She’s a born entrepreneur, one who can even turn her son’s stomach flu into a new product line.
That happened when she was home one day attending church. Her son threw up and Bailey realized an air sickness bag—just like those in the seat pocket of every airplane–would have come in handy. Thus was born the Smart Mom Sack.
Bailey launched bluesuitmom.com in 2000 when she was a traveling mom working for one of America’s fastest growing companies. She talked with her peers and realized women needed a place to ask questions unique to moms on the corporate fast track. On the site, executive-level traveling moms can Interact and find answers to the questions specific to their lives—How do I talk to my husband about making more money than he does? What should I do about the stock options?
In spite of her busy travel schedule, Bailey puts home-cooked meals on the table most nights for her kids (she cooks a week’s worth of meals on Sunday night). When they were younger, she even packed a week’s worth of lunches (she packed all the non-perishables before she left and her husband added sandwiches each morning). Mom to four kids, now ages 14, 14, 12 and 9, Bailey tries never to be away more than two nights in a row.
Recently, TravelingMom™ caught up with Bailey, for a look at how she balances work, home and all that traveling.
TMOM: When you first started bluesuitmom.com you were in the corporate trenches. Were you traveling?
Maria Bailey: I was. I actually traveled 100,000 miles one year with three children under 2 and I remain a traveling mom for business and pleasure. I’m on the road at least three or four days a week every week of the year.
TMOM: How did you handle those first 100,000 miles?
Maria Bailey: This is going to sound kind of crazy, but it was easier to travel for business when my children were smaller. Now that they’re older, they’re a little bit more vocal about, “Hey, do you have to travel?” Last night my daughter said to me when I was tucking her in, “Mom, will you be here in the morning?” It was one of those moments where I realized that my traveling does affect them. They don’t really know what my schedule is because it’s never the same week to week.
TMOM: How did you feel when she asked you that?
Maria Bailey: What she was saying to me is, “Mom, I need to know when I can expect to see you.” My answer was to give her the information that she was really asking for. I said, “Yes, I will be home tomorrow but, just so you can plan, Mommy has to leave on Wednesday and I’ll be in New York for the rest of the week. And then on Saturday, we’re going to travel together.”
TMOM: Do you take your kids on business trips occasionally?
Maria Bailey: I do. Again, it was easier for me when they were younger. I had a really large map in the hallway and I would put a little sticker on the cities that I was going to. I would give them my speaking schedule and I would allow everybody to pick one city they wanted to travel with Mom alone. They had to learn about the city and pick three places they would like to visit while we were there. For instance, one of my sons picked New York City and the three things he wanted to do were: Go to the top of the Empire State Building, rent a rowboat in Times Square and go to the Pokemon store.
TMOM: It seems that the overall theme is that you involve them. A lot of times I think when kids hear their parents are traveling it’s sort of like you just flew into the clouds and that’s it.
Maria Bailey: In October every year, I ask them before I cash in my frequent flyer points, “Where would you like to go?” This year they elected to use my frequent flyer points to go to Ireland. That’s another way they get to see the benefit of Mom being on that plane and they know that they wouldn’t be able to do that had Mom not left all those weeks during the year.
TMOM: Do you have any dread about traveling with your family when you put on so many miles throughout the year?
Maria Bailey: You know, the only dread I ever have when I travel with my children is, I think the airline treats you differently when you’re traveling with children. I never wear blue jeans on a plane but even if you’re dressed nicely, if you have kids in tow they treat you like you’re a first-time traveler.
TMOM: Now that you’re traveling with teens and a tweens at home, do you have a nanny or an au pair?
Maria Bailey: No, actually my husband is an attorney who is self-employed. His schedule is a little bit more flexible. We have a team meeting on Sundays to talk about where Mom’s going, what days I’ll be gone, the logistics of who’s got to go where. I think organization really is the key to it.