I wish this post was about moms taking a much needed girls-only getaway full of day drinking, laughter and zero laundry. It’s not.
Rather, it’s a post about perspective.
Like with all of my blog posts, this one is inspired by a story. Not my story, but close – because lord knows I’ve traveled away from my child more times in the past two years than I am proud to admit.
I’m here to remind you, mom, why it is OK for you to travel for your job. Leave the guilt at home because this blog post has no time for it. (Don’t we have enough to be guilty about?)
One of my best friends is fervently optimistic. It’s one of my favorite things about her. Hand to God, if you take a problem to her she can find a way to go positive and bring you back from your dark place. Imagine my surprise when she called me desperately in need of coping mechanisms because she was traveling away from her small kids for work for the first time.
“What do you do? How do you deal with this?!” – Friend
“Technology, coupled with the promise of a hot shower alone and a king-sized hotel bed that I don’t have to share with anyone.” – Me
I immediately felt guilty that I was the friend people needed to call for advice on this. (Get out of my face, guilt!) But then, the most amazing discussion followed. We talked about her job – more specifically how well she was doing, which is what facilitated the need to travel. We then brainstormed solutions to make things easier on her and the kids.
My specific advice with regard to traveling when you have young children is as follows:
- Talk to them. Kids understand more than we give them credit for. I often talk to my three year old about why I work and why that sometimes means I have to travel. I don’t work just because I have to. My career is fulfilling for me for a variety of reasons and I refuse to make it the enemy of my son. It’s important that our kids appreciate the many roles a woman can have – including career woman.
- Leverage your network. Out of town during an event? Think about who can help cover for you. Your spouse/significant other, a relative, maybe a close friend? I recently had to leave my son’s daycare Mother’s Day party early because of work. I coordinated with my husband that he would come to school and tag in when I had to leave. My son thought it was the coolest thing ever that BOTH of his parents got to come to school. There I was feeling bad ALL day and my kid was literally thrilled about his party because we both were there. Read my lips: There is no place for mom guilt in this blog post.
- Technology is your friend. Did you know that Facebook Messenger has video call capabilities and all you need is internet access? Well, now you do. When I travel, I electronically kiss my son good morning and tell him I love him before he goes to sleep at night. Technology is amazing. Find a vehicle (e.g. FaceTime, SKYPE, FB Messenger) that works for you and leverage the heck out of it. Also, never leave home without a hearty helping of videos and/or photos of your kids on your phone. In a moment of weakness, a video of my son’s sweet little face brings me back from my dark place almost instantly.
I recently went to a seminar featuring one of our female executive leaders. She spoke about work/life harmony and how “balance” in a traditional sense wasn’t black and white.
To paraphrase her:
There are many children in the world who are in need of love and attention. My kids are not two of them. I ask myself:
1) Are they safe? (Yes)
2) Do they know how much I love them? Do they know that they are my world? (Absolutely)
3) Do I give all myself when they need me? (100%)
The overarching message was that at times, work would need to be a priority. Other times (the majority of the time), your family is your priority. Both parties should understand and be amenable to this notion.
Read: Some moms have to travel for work and that’s OK.
“I think I need to change my approach. I’ve been apologizing to my kids this past week like I was doing something wrong.” – Friend
WRITTEN BY JESSICA
Jessica Christensen is a communications professional by day and a wife and mommy (to an awesome little boy) by night. When she’s not chasing both of her favorite redheads around, she’s silently correcting your grammar and talking up St. Bonaventure University. Follow her @PRJESSICAC.