If you’re a working mom — and you’re anything like me — the minute you learn that you have to travel for work, you get a sinking feeling in your gut, knowing you’ll have to leave your kids. While the trip is a great opportunity for you career-wise, you feel torn because it’s taking you away from the most important people in your life for several days.
This is something I still struggle with every single time I decide to pursue a business opportunity that takes me on the road—but over time, I’ve developed certain family rituals that help make my business trips more bearable. Here’s a list of the top 5 practices that have worked best for me.
1. Try to spend extra time with your kids before you leave. Ladies, I know this can be tough because you’re scrambling to get everything ready for your departure—fridge stocked with easy-to-prepare meals, everybody’s clothes washed & put away, outfits laid out for the kiddos and instructions documented for your hubby around what to pack for lunches, in the diaper bag, etc.—never mind the fact that you have to get yourself packed and out the door…Yes, all your pre-trip prep will still need to get done, but try to include the kids as special helpers in those activities. Turn it into a fun game—which will have the added benefit of helping you keep yourself from getting too tense and stressed.
2. Consider giving your children a special little gift before you leave. Before my most recent trip, I presented my daughter with a new journal to write & draw in. Check it out—so cute, right?! Anyway, she loved it and used it to draw special pictures for me while I was gone.
3. Think of creative ways to connect while you’re away. For example, you could leave a note for each child for every day you’ll be apart. Think about what they’ll be doing on that day, so you can include little details that will make them feel special. For example, if you know your daughter has gymnastics on Wednesdays, you can say, “Have fun at gymnastics today!” in that day’s note. You can also designate a specific time that you’ll talk each day, so you don’t end up playing phone tag—and no one’s left disappointed.
4. Take an extra day out of work when you return and let the kids play hooky so you can enjoy some special alone time together. Plan something special that they can look forward to while you’re away—maybe a trip to a museum, lunch & movie, or an outing to the beach or zoo.
5. And lastly, do your best to enjoy the time you’re away. Relish the fact that you get to sleep past 5am. Pamper yourself by taking an extra long shower in the morning and ordering in room service. Watch an in-room movie and get to bed early so you can recharge. And remember that by taking advantage of business opportunities that will help you elevate your professional game, you are providing your children with a positive, success-minded, goal-oriented role model—first-hand.
So what about you? Do you struggle with “mommy guilt” when you’re on the road? Does anything make it feel better? If so, post your top tips in the comments section below.