Today on Working Mommy Wednesday, we're talking about our greatest challenges for 2011. My greatest challenge -- from a working mom perspective -- is my upcoming travel schedule.
I'm going to be on the road a lot in 2011.
Which means I'm going to be blogging yes. (Bummer, I know.) But it also means I'm going to spend more nights away from my family than usual. So as I gear up to start traveling, I’m revisiting a few lessons I’ve learned about leaving the family behind (this is a revised and improved repost).
Tip #1 Talk to your kids about your trip, and reassure them you won’t forget them.
It helps when I tell my kids where I’m going, how long I’ll be gone, and last but not least, that I’ll be thinking about them day and night. Sometimes I even show them a map of where I’m going and explain the purpose of my trip, to manage their expectations. Ok, for those of you with infants and toddlers, this can be a short conversation, but even little ones begin to understand the concept of time and place sooner than you think.
Tip #2 Be reassured your kids won’t forget you.
Kids are resilient (and thank God for making them that way). I remember when Nick was just a year old, I left him for almost two weeks for an out-of-town trial. I was terrified he would forget me. When we were finally reunited, we didn’t miss a beat. Sure, I always miss stuff while I’m gone, but I’ve learned to resist the temptation to feel sorry for myself. Sulking never helps.
Tip #3 Resist the urge to bribe them with stuff.
Every once in awhile I’ll bring my kids gifts when I return home. The only problem? They start to expect it every time I leave town. And I don’t want Mom leaving town to become equated with getting more stuff. After all, don’t we already use material things a little too much to placate our kids?
Tip #4 Invest quality time when you return.
Before I leave town, I always talk to my kids about what we are going to do together when I return. It gives us all something to look forward to. If it’s a long trip, I try to pick them up from school early, take them to breakfast, or even take a day off work. There is no substitute for quality time together.
Tip #5 Pray.
If I remember anything, I remember that God is in control of my kids, not me. I think I pray for them more when we’re not physically together (when I’m with them, I tend to think I have things under control). The truth is, my kids are in God’s hands no matter if I’m with them or not.
Tip #6 Don't forget your spouse.
It's easy for me to just worry about the kids, (forgetting that my husband operates as a single parent when I'm gone). He needs a break. He needs attention. And he even needs a little sympathy for holding down the fort. Moms are especially guilty of ignoring "big people" in favor of "little people." But when it comes to your marriage, you're not doing anyone a favor -- including your kids -- when you forget your spouse.
Any way you slice it, travel is hard on the family. I'm going to need your support in 2011, so please share your own travel tips!