With the development of mobile technology, there are more options when it comes to work. You don’t have to be chained to a desk, at the same place every day. However, there are situations where nothing beats seeing someone face to face; from meetings to events to training, there are times that the only option is to travel for work when you are a parent.
Since starting The Balance Collective, there have been a few travel opportunities that I have grasped with both hands; in my previous life as an employee, the overnight travel was less frequent, but the feelings were the same. Being away from the kids for work feels like the best time AND the worst time in equal measures.
A night away can feel like a week-long luxury holiday; hot food and control of the TV, but can also leave you with pangs of guilt. Should you go? Are you a ‘bad parent’ if you are excited about the opportunity? Are you under pressure from ‘da management’? All of these questions and issues have gone through my head, and that of my clients, when they have to (OR WANT TO) work away from the kids.
So, if you are currently juggling the multitude of emotions that come up when you need to work away from the children, then here are my top tips to manage your, and their, feelings:
Show them where you are going, how long you will be away and what you will be doing whilst you are there. It gives you a chance to show them, as a wonderful working parent role model, what you do when you aren’t Mum or Dad, and helps them visualise what you will be up to.
This preparation also helps you consider what you need whilst you are away and make sure you have all you need and ask the questions that you need answering!
It’s never been easier to stay connected with the family whilst you are away. Facetime / Zoom on a laptop or smartphone, or simply a telephone (remember them!) means that you can each catch up on your day. Arrange a time to do so, when you aren’t rushed; if time zones differences make this hard, you all could record messages to send to each other instead.
NEWS FLASH: You are allowed to enjoy what you do and take advantage of the time away. Make sure, where you can, you plan for any down time you have. Don’t become a martyr to parenthood – you ARE allowed a life outside of it. Even if it’s a simple 20 minutes podcast, book or micro-snooze on the commute, take advantage of the child-free time.
So, if you have overnight travel, or particularly long working days, on the horizon, take a few moments to create an opportunity for conversation of life outside of parenthood; and remember relationships are about quality, not quantity. Be present with your kids when you are there and share the stories that you gather on your travels.
Are you a commuting parent? Travel often with work? How do you make it work? Share your strategies in The Balance Collective with Clara Wilcox; join over 500 parents working to create a career they enjoy, not endure.