As if juggling a family and career isn’t enough, throw in regular business travel and even the most levelheaded mom can lose her cool. Having someone take over your duties as mom, missing out on family time, and playing catch up when you get home are just a few reasons to make you dread business trips. Making a few simple changes can reduce your stress and guilt and give you a renewed energy.
Put systems in place so the ship stays afloat, even while you are away.
Almost everyone can benefit from a routine. For adults, it eliminates unnecessary stress. For kids, it fosters independence and provides a sense of stability. It is even more important to put systems in place when mom has to travel for work, because your family will continue to follow those routines even when you aren’t there.
The most stressful times for both parents and for kids are before school, homework, and bedtime. If you get these times moving smoothly, you can feel comfortable knowing that a friend, relative or babysitter will be able to take over while you are away and you won’t come home to chaos.
One of the biggest frustrations of travel is being out of the loop while on business trips. Kids are constantly bringing home important notices from school and their extracurricular activities. If you aren’t there to read and handle these notices, what happens to them? Establishing organization and communication systems will keep you sane and ensure that nothing falls through the cracks.
Utilize technology to stay connected.
When I ask working moms what they dislike most about traveling for work, the answer is almost always “guilt.” They feel guilty because they aren’t home at night to hear about their child’s day at school. They feel guilty because they are afraid that they are putting work ahead of their family. They feel guilty because someone else is tucking in their kids at night. There is too much guilt. You’re working – you haven’t abandoned your family.
Advancements in technology have made it easier than ever to stay connected while you are away. Cell phones enable you to talk, text and send pictures, anytime and from anywhere. Webcams allow you to read your child a bedtime story from your hotel room. Instant messaging gives you the opportunity to catch up with your teenager while he or she is IMing friends, talking on the phone, or is just too busy to dedicate a few minutes to talk to mom. Social networking and blogging allow you to post updates and pictures of your trip for friends and family. Keep up with technology and use it to alleviate some of your guilt.
Enjoy your “time off.”
Even though you are on a business trip, it doesn’t mean that you can’t enjoy it. One of the greatest perks of staying in a hotel is that it is peace and quiet. No yelling or arguing, no one screaming “mom,” and no messes to clean. Use this time to reenergize yourself and squeeze in some well deserved “me” time. You deserve it and chances are you won’t have time when you get home.
Take advantage of your time alone. Order room service and curl up with a book you’ve been dying to read or try a new restaurant in each city you visit. Schedule time at the hotel spa or do a little sightseeing. Catch a show at the theatre or order a movie on pay per view. It’s one of the few times you won’t have to weigh the opinions of the collective group – only yours matters.
Jill Frank is an Executive Career Coach to Working Mothers. Get her FREE special report, “How to Control the Chaos and Eliminate Unnecessary Stress” and FREE career tips for working moms at www.leverageyourtalent.com/ezine.htm.
© Copyright 2008. Jill Frank & Associates. All Rights Reserved.