Mixing Work Travel with Family Time
My oldest son's reaction to discovering room service pizza.
Images by Micki Bare
Working moms face the exhaustive struggle of balancing family life with their job responsibilities every day. Add work-related travel to the mix and it becomes even more challenging to “have it all.” That’s why, like IBM executive Inhi Cho Suh, I took my kids with me every now and again when I had to travel.
My administrative duties for Head Start did not have me jetting around the globe like Suh. Rather, I saw a good many states and became well acquainted with Atlanta. Working for a non-profit rather than a big corporation, it was a bit more financially difficult to travel with my boys than it is for Suh. But I worked for a family-friendly entity, so there were times I could make it happen with planning and family support.
My oldest went with me on a trip to Miami. He stayed with me for free in the hotel and attending meetings with me — he brought a book bag with schoolwork and toys. While my food was covered, I had to pay for his. But he had not yet hit puberty, so his meals were affordable. What made it memorable for him was that it was his first experience on an airplane and he got to play on the beach — in shorts and a T-shirt — in December. Also, we all still chuckle over his younger brother asking when it would be his turn to go to “your-ami,” too.
My middle son accompanied me on a trip to Cherokee. I was attending a statewide board meeting. He wore his Sunday best to the meetings and, because he was a big boy in a business meeting, went from Pull Ups to being fully potty-trained within hours of our arrival. I had to purchase big-boy underwear on our lunch break.
My youngest was with me during a three-day training retreat that was required of all administrators. I had no choice but to bring him along, as he was only three weeks old and still nursing. As Suh notes in the Business Insider article, kids are portable. That was clearly my attitude at the time.
When my boys grew older, we were able to make a couple of my business trips family adventures. My husband took a few vacation days and he and the boys enjoyed sightseeing while I worked. Then we all spent time together each evening.
When I could not bring them along — which was often — I always brought back souvenirs. We also had a map of the US on our refrigerator as well as a calendar. The boys could visually see where Mommy was going and when she would return.
Suh also provides excellent tips in the Business Insider article.
Bottom line? With thoughtful planning, working moms who travel can balance work and family and even mix the two to create positive, memorable family experiences.