Business trips are rough on kids. Yet they are an almost inevitable part of a professional woman’s career. Whether you travel often or just once in awhile, you, your kids, and the caretaker left behind are put to the test as you head out for the airport.
The defining moment for me was when my oldest daughter was 3. I had traveled for work since she was born, but for some reason, this day -- this trip -- was different. She wailed. She pounded her tiny fists on the floor. She braced her little body against the front door. She was very clear: I was leaving and she was mad. The worst part was that after many good-byes, when I finally had to leave or risked missing the plane, she followed me out the front door and onto the driveway, begging me not to leave. Standing on my front porch, with my daughter back inside the house and the door locked so she couldn’t follow me out again, I could still hear her crying. It broke my heart. I thought to myself that no child, or parent, should have to go through this.
I am not alone, unfortunately. Since the launch of my children’s book, My Mommy’s on a Business Trip, working parents across the country have been telling me similar stories. The guilt is enormous. So is the stress of trying to balance what needs to happen while you’re gone with the work responsibilities you’re headed towards. Not to mention that in today’s times, if your trip is important enough to take you away from the office, you can’t afford to be worried about what’s going on back home.
There is a better way -- for kids and their parents. Make your next trip easier on everyone, including you, by following these easy, no-tears tips:
1.) Plan for Fun. For trips longer than two nights away, arrange with the caretaker a special night out while you’re gone – a trip to the movies, a play date with a special friend, pizza for dinner, etc. Activities will depend on the age of the child, but you’ll know what your child holds special in his or her heart.
2.) Take Flight. If someone can drop you off, have the kids come with you to the airport to say good-bye (this works especially well with Sunday departures and if you live relatively close to the airport). Many kids find airports exciting and it will help them to visualize what you’re doing. Moms love it, too, because of the last minute hugs and kisses they get.
3.) Prepare Together. A simple, but important thing to do is create or decorate a calendar to show your departure and when you’ll be back home. Try something new -- glue Hershey Kisses to the calendar for a special treat each day you’re away.