Over the last two years I’ve traveled more in my life than I ever had and all while being a mommy of two. Being a working mom who travel’s isn’t really easy but over the last few years I’ve learned a few things that have eased the pain for my kids and for me.
Prepare the kids but not too far in advance. If I start talking about a trip weeks before it happens the kids spend too much time thinking about me going away. That is too stressful for them, they have childhood to enjoy!
Turn travel into a geography lesson. We have a large map and I circle the city I’m traveling to. We talk about where I’m going, what state the city is in and as the children get older I intend to incorporate books at bedtime about the state, city and even calculate miles and hours for math lessons. I really want to capture the teachable moments.
Provide comfort while you are away. People that your children are accustomed to being with and with whom you trust and they trust, this is vital for everyone well being short and long term. When routine is possible give them this. If they like to sleep in mommy’s bed while you are gone, permit this or at least with your robe, blanket or pillow, whatever comforts them at night.
Allow them to help you pack. Maybe writing you a note to surprise you in your suitcase or on the airplane and you leave them with something special.
Make sure to say safe. When you are traveling alone, safety is important. But when you are a family, it is even more so. That is why I take all things regarding safety very seriously while traveling. That means starting with a passport and ticket pouch that I always keep on my person. Because when you are overseas, these are the most important things you have. On top of that, I use an anti-theft backpack to help keep my things secure when I am out and about.
Ease the countdown. Using a calendar and simply circle when you will be home and when you are leaving. The adult they are with can nightly help them cross off the days until you are home. You can get fancy leaving them with a piece of chocolate they can eat each day you are gone and when there is no more chocolate, mommy is coming home!
Do not be selfish. I love talking to my children when I travel but for my daughter she gets sad. I don’t want her to get upset but I still want her to know I love her. My son likes to talk to me and tell me about his day. Each child is different and that needs to be respected. For my daughter the adult tells her that mommy called and said she loves her very much. This makes my daughter happy verses sad. Someday I hope to use Skype to read a book to the kids or say goodnight but I’m still sensitive to my daughter. If I see something neat I often text the adult a photo and they share it with the children. It’s about thinking of them first.
Give them something to look forward to. Yes, mom guilt causes me to promise my children something upon my return – beyond my hugs and kisses! I have tackled this in many unique ways to avoid the expensive airport items. First off I tell the children they get what they get and should be grateful; we have a saying, “you get what you get and you don’t throw a fit”. Secondly, I keep a closet at home of small items I’ve found discounted over the year. Before each trip I pack two items in the car for the children. This way when I return home it appears as though I’ve gotten the items on the trip. I’ve saved money, there is no stress or worry involved and everyone is happy. My children look forward to this small surprise. In addition, you can get creative but it might be more of your time and stress! For my son, I bring him home a rock of some sort from each city I’m in. He loves rocks and thinks it is cool he has rocks from all over! They’re all mixed up now but oh well!
Check your calendar. Don’t travel if you can avoid it on their birthdays or special events. Be organized on when things are taking place so you don’t miss out on the big moments. We all have to work but there are limits and living with regret or disappointing our children is not good for our health or heart.
Moms work, and sometimes they travel for work. Don’t beat yourself up or let others make you feel guilty. Instead make it go as smoothly as possible so you can do your work well and be an outstanding mom!