Friday, November 1, 2013

Working Mom: Stephanie (on Traveling for Work)

I am a working mom (and I love it); but, if I'm being honest, I feel like most days I'm more "surviving" and less "making it work."  So... I enlisted the help of some dear blog friends to share their experiences, advice, lessons, and encouragement on all kinds of topics related to life balancing a job outside the home and a family. I think this goes without saying, but please know that this series is - in no way - meant to belittle or undermine the work of stay-at-home moms - you are doing an incredibly important JOB, and I have so much respect for you!  That said, I do feel like working moms are sometimes under-represented in the internet world... So, my hope is that this will be a place for working moms of the blogosphere to unite and feel understood, connected, strengthened, and supported (plus, maybe pick up a tip or two)!   Overall, I hope this will be a reminder that (regardless of your situation), you are NOT alone, and you are doing a darn good job! Please introduce yourself and  "join the conversation" in the comments.  

(More from me on being a working mom here.)
Today, you have the privilege of hearing from Stephanie about her experience (and advice for) traveling for work:

My name is Stephanie and my blog is Happy Days (found here). Although I don't comment that often, I've been following E's blog for several years now...so I am honored that she selected me to write a post for her working mom's series.

A little bit more about me.  I am a working mom to 2-year old Reese and our pup Wrigley.  I have worked in public accounting for the last 8 years, and until recently, have only had local clients, which meant very little travelling.  And this was okay with me.  Especially since the husband travels and we now have an almost two year old daughter. 

However, six months ago, this all changed.  Suddenly, I was on the road several days a week every week.  Couple this with the fact that the husband travels and whew...a new twist (at least for us) in the parenting juggling act.  Thus, I wanted to just take a moment to share a few of the tips that we've learned/implemented along the way.  Now, I realize that these won’t work for everyone – just like no parenting technique will work for everyone – so just take them with a grain of salt.

Tip # 1 - Thank goodness for technology.  Technology today is a.maz.ing.  Use it.  When I am on the road, we skype daily.  The husband sends me pictures and videos.  We Skype or face-time some more.  It almost makes you feel like you are right there in the room and not missing anything in your loved one’s lives.

Tip # 2 -Have backup (and backup) child care options ready to go.  Little Miss goes to daycare everyday. Thus, when I first started travelling this didn't even cross my mind.  I mean, daycare is open, even if one of her teachers is sick.  However, what I didn't plan for was when she got sick.  And couldn't go to daycare until she was healthy.  Of course this happened while the husband had several important meetings that he could not miss.  Thus, frantically started searching for back-up care nannies to come to our house so that they could care for he and he could work.  Talk about stressful.  And a lesson learned.  Always.Have.A.Backup.Plan.  Friends, family, babysitter, nanny on call solution.  Something.  Just in case.

Tip # 3 - Communicate, communicate, communicate.  Once we both started travelling, our biggest fear was that we’d both need to be gone on the same day, leaving no one around to stay with Little Miss. Thus, we decided that to instill a policy that you must communicate any travel plans as soon as they were known.  To help us do this, we started using a family calendar app Cozi, where by we could both enter and see meetings and appointments for each other.  We could also quickly check real time to see if certain days were open for travel. 

And if the other person had already communicated plans for a certain day, the second one was out of luck.  Are there drawbacks to this?  Yes.  I mean, what if you had to miss a really big client meeting or not get to work on a project that you’d been seeking?  But at the end of the day, these missed opportunities were peanuts (at least in our opinion) to the alternative – having someone else take care of our daughter 24-7. 

Tip # 4 - Strategically Plan.  Life is about planning (at least in my book).  So if you know you’ll be gone, at least try and be strategic about certain things.  For example, take the last flight out the night before you need to be there so you can maximize the time with your family – especially if you have to fly out on a Sunday night.  However, try to not book the last flight home.  There’s nothing worse than wanting to get home and having your flight randomly cancelled.  At least if you are the second to last flight out, there is a chance you can get home. 

If you have multiple clients in the same city or same geographic reason, try to schedule meetings with both of them during one trip.  Sometimes its better to be gone for one more day during one trip, than to have to book a second trip to the same city.

Try to plan meals for the family so you aren’t worrying that the kiddos are eating healthy while daddy is juggling them (and likely a tad bit stressed) while you are gone.  Do they eat gourmet home cooked meals when I am gone?  Nope.  But at least they are eating something more nutritious than McDonalds.

Tip # 5 - Make the most of the time away.  Sometimes when you are away from the family, its tempting to indulge in things that you do not get to do on a regular basis – catch up on TV shows, go to bed early, sleep in, etc.  However, when at all possible – resist!  And rather, use the free time to get ahead on work.  Although this may make the days seem a bit longer, I mean who wants to work rather than sleep, and not nearly as fun – it does have its perks.  Namely that when you get back from the trip, you’ll hopefully have less to do.  Which means you can hang out more with your loved ones.  And maybe, if you are lucky, sneak out of the office earlier or go in late to get even more extra time with them given that you’ve been gone.

I am sure that others have great tips to deal with business trips as well.  Although I pretend that I am a seasoned veteran at this traveling and balancing a family routine, I am fairly certain that compared to others I am a rookie.  Thus, if you’ve got more tips, I (and I am sure other mom’s) would love to hear them.  


Go say hello and read more from Stephanie at her blog Happy Days!! (I'm obsessed with that header.)

THANK YOU STEPHANIE!

So, how about you?  Do you travel for work?  
What helps make it work for you and your family?
 
P.S. Check out all the posts in this series here.

AND.... If you haven't entered to win $50 to spend in any of my awesome sponsors' shops, WHY THE HECK NOT?!?!  Head over to this post and leave a comment (that's all) to win!!!

2 comments:

  1. Very interesting post! I don't travel for work and generally can work from home on a sick day, but we've run into issues sometimes when our little one is sick and we both have important meetings/hearings going on!

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  2. I'm so glad I don't have to travel for work (although an occasional getaway doesn't sound so bad!) but these sound like great tips for moms who do. I've been a horrible reader lately, I've got a lot of working moms to catch up on!

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Your comments are what makes this thing fun! I LOVE to hear from you and do my best to respond to everyone! THANK YOU!


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