I’ve been an outside Sales Manager for the last eight years, and I have become very accustomed to regular business travel. I’m an expert at minimalist packing, a pro at breezing through security, and know exactly which level and row to park in at the airport for the shortest distance to and from the terminal, in and out as quickly as possible.
Now that I am a full-time working mom and a part-time traveling mom, obviously much has changed. Before it wasn’t so much of an issue if I had a cancelled flight, and I got stuck somewhere overnight in the winter due to snow. Or, if a client meeting got re-arranged and I needed to spend an extra day away from home. While I still travel sometimes up to three weeks out of the month, it has required more consolidated trips, a lot of planning and prepping, and some major flexibility on my end.
I know I am not alone, but for expectant moms out there who travel for business, or women who wonder how they’ll make do once they welcome children into their family, I wanted to share some tips that I have learned along the way on how I have learned to make it work for me. Of course it’s not a perfect science, and I can see how down the road as Stella gets older and realizes that “Mommy’s away on a business trip,” how these plans will evolve. I was nervous about making the transition back to traveling for work after my leave, but it has gone much better than I could have anticipated. Here’s how I do it.
Have a supportive partner
I am extremely fortunate to have a very hands-on partner in our parenting journey. Matt is very confident when it comes to taking care of our daughter, and I have complete trust in his abilities. When he has a business meeting or something to attend while I am away, we are very lucky to have family members near by that can assist us with either picking up from nursery school, staying overnight, etc. Yes it can be tricky, but with some planning ahead and communication, we make it work. I am very lucky to have a partner that respects and is willing to support my career so I can achieve my professional goals.
Communication is key
When I am booking travel, I always double check Matt’s schedule as well as his mother’s, whether we will need her assistance or not, in the event something comes up. Matt gives me the same consideration, so we can adjust our plans as necessary when he has to be out of town or has commitments he cannot reschedule. Living on the Northshore, with our family on the Southshore, we have to be especially considerate of each others’ schedules, as it’s not as easy to head across the lake to be at daycare by 5:30 on short notice.
Before Stella was born, it wasn’t an issue to hop on a plane Monday through Thursday. Now if I can, I’ll consolidate my meetings and take the first flight out on Tuesday and a late flight home on Wednesday. It doesn’t always work out due to scheduling, but I’d rather sacrifice a little sleep on my end in order to get home and be with my family. Nothing better than being home to get the first sleepy smiles the next morning!
I try to make sure that the fridge is stocked with easy to assemble meals for Matt while I’m away, or make a large Crockpot dinner that can be re-heated before I travel. I also make sure to have some of his favorite goodies and snacks too. Another easy thing to help out is laying out outfits in advance and making sure all of her bottles, paci’s, medicine, etc. are prepped and easily accessible. Now that the baby is in such a good routine, those little things just make it that much easier for him to manage while I am away. I know it is overwhelming juggling a full time job and full time parenting, and I want him to feel appreciated. Besides, it is fun bonding time for the two of them, and he truly enjoys it!
Make use of technology
FaceTime, text messages and phone calls are my lifeline while I’m away. It’s amazing how far away from home I feel sometimes, even if I’m only in Dallas or Atlanta. Our daily routines are so engrained into my lifestyle now, that by 7:30 AM, if I don’t have a text with a “Stellagram,” I’m going through major baby withdrawal! Matt usually sends me picture texts first thing in the morning, and then during dinner and/or after bath. It might sound silly, but especially when she was three months old, I was on my first trip back from maternity leave, it was honestly the only thing that helped me sleep at night!
When I’m away, I try to make use of the “quiet time” and focus on the task at hand. Business trips can be costly, and it’s my job to be present and give my meetings 100%. If I don’t have a client dinner, I will usually grab an early dinner by myself, or order room service and work on emails or projects in bed, and get to sleep early (It is sort of a treat actually!) Travel is tiring enough as it is, especially going West Coast/East Coast, so I try to maximize my work time away from distractions and rest as much as I can, so I can give my family 100% when I get home. It’s definitely hard to be away, but it makes the reunions that much more exciting and meaningful when I return home!