Who says you can't travel for work and be a present mom?
“How do you do it? Balance work travel with family?” I can hear the voices in people’s heads behind the concerned expression, ‘she’s probably never with her kids.’ It’s a fair statement. For me, a carefully planned approach ensures that I own my schedule entirely so that I can build a great career while also taking part in all the moments that count, like... attending my kids' games, being at school events, helping them with their homework, and snuggling them at night!
So many women give up opportunities for fear that travel will take them out of their family’s life, so after answering this question many times, here are some ways that you can own your schedule.
1. Say yes and then figure out how to do it. I work for a national company and since I’m in the corporate office, I need to know our local operations and often implement initiatives working alongside our employees. With 140 offices there’s no shortage of places to be! If I’m asked to take something on, I say yes first, then I go home and talk to my husband about how we’ll manage it. He works as chief sales officer for a technology company, so we have to be lock step with our work schedules. He always says, “Go, don’t worry about us, we’ve got this.” I’m fortunate.
2. Travel on days your kids won’t see you. The first thing I do when determining my availability to travel is to pull out my boys (ages 8 and 9) sports practice schedule. Those days automatically become travel days if needed because I won’t see them anyways.
3. Know your limitations. I have very strict rules about not being gone for more than two nights. Any more than that is too long for me to be away from the family. This may require me to travel more often, but in shorter spurts. Do what works for you, but set hard limits; otherwise, you could spend a lot of time on a plane. I take a lot of early-morning and late-evening flights to hold tight to my rules.
4. Plan around YOUR schedule first. I send the people that I’m meeting with MY available dates. I will then ask what works for them. I don’t ever say, “tell me when or how long you want me there?” You are allowed to say, “this is when I can be there.” If those dates don’t work, find other times.
5. Get in and get out. I don’t do additional breakfasts, lunches, or dinners. Relationships are important, and I build them while working. Also, when I’m traveling, I work every single hour of the day (minus 6 hours of sleep). If someone wants to meet at 6:00 a.m., I do it.
6. Work/life blend is essential. When I return after 2-3 days, I don't feel guilty about taking a morning or early afternoon off (or working from home) to be with the kids before or after school or to get my life in order.
Someday I won’t have to rush back and forth, but for now, this is how I am present in my family's lives while also doing what I love. Last but not least, I always, always, always text my husband during the day and give him extra love when I get home for everything he does to allow for me to pursue my dreams.