Obligatory Prize Shopping
Souvenir Tactic for Traveling Moms
My souvenir shop selfie.
As a working mom who had to travel, I learned early on that souvenirs were important to the work-life balance. It was important to explain where I was going and why well in advance. Daily calls to check in with my boys kept communication flowing and a sense of connection intact, regardless of distance. But the most critical aspect of ensuring my children would not be emotionally damaged forever by my absence — and of assuaging my own working-mom guilt — was the souvenir routine.
Actually, my boys came to call their souvenirs "prizes." I read in a parenting book or magazine — or maybe I heard it at a seminar — that promising souvenirs and then following through helped the kids look forward to mom's travel and subsequent return home. It also provided something tangible for young concrete operational thinkers to process the trip information. Therefore, every time I returned home from a business trip, my boys all received a prize as soon as I returned home.
Now, there were also times I had to travel outside of work. Since my kids had accumulated tons of souvenir prize stuff, much of which found its way to the attic, we created a rule. Prizes were distributed after work travel only. So, when I flew up to see my cousin and her new baby in New England for the weekend, I did not make time for souvenir shopping.
For the past four days, I've been in New York City. Technically, I was not there for work, because Piedmont Parent did not send me. I took vacation days for the excursion. It wasn't really vacation, because Hubby and the boys were at home and I wasn't visiting relatives or friends. And I was working in a sense, just not for my job. I was working for me. So when I finally had the chance to leave the conference and walk amongst the tourists, I felt compelled to stock up on prizes.
And I'm glad I did. Even though I arrived home at nearly 2 a.m., all three of my boys were still awake eagerly awaiting my arrival. Their first question? "What did you get me?"
Their next questions? "How was your trip?" "How did your meetings go?" "Did you do well with your pitch?"
They loved their prizes and were excited to hear about my adventure. I got hugs from everyone. I think that book or magazine article — or maybe it was a workshop presenter — was onto something when it suggested bringing home souvenirs for the kids.