Traveling for work is definitely the thing that I have the hardest time juggling. It’s not frequent enough that we’ve been forced to come up with a good system and routine, but it is often enough that it can feel pretty disruptive. I get emotional about it; the girls get upset; and my husband is left with a big pile of tasks that we normally would divide evenly. I hear that it gets easier as your kids get older (my kids are 2 and 5), and I hope that’s true. For now, though, it’s tough and we are kind of at a stage where we just try to power through each trip. (We do often try to coordinate grandparent visits or something fun to overlap with some of the days away and that definitely helps.)
Another thing that has helped is trying to find ways to stay connected through the trip. Phone calls or FaceTime seem like obvious options, but we actually find that they are not that great for us. I’m usually attending a conference and I’m not always in the same time zone, so it can be hard to match our schedules to connect. The girls also usually end up upset when it is time to hang up, so even though talking is nice the experience overall feels negative for them. I like getting to see them, but it does not seem to make anything easier on them. Making it easier on them is the whole point, so we end up skipping phone calls most of the time (for now).
One of the things that I’ve done to try to stay connected instead is a “book countdown.” Before I leave, I pull a pile of books from their bookshelf equal to the number of nights that I will be away. I make a video of myself reading each book and then wrap the books in wrapping paper. Each night at bedtime, they unwrap one of the books and watch the video of me reading them that story. The pile of books is a visual reminder of how many nights are left until I come back and they also seem to like seeing me read them a story at bedtime. (Time saving tip: save your videos! You don’t have to reread/record the books for every trip. I have 10-15 videos/books that are ready to go. I might add a couple of new ones here and there, but this gives me enough to mix it up for each trip.)
If you give this a try, I would love to hear how this works for you and your family. What other ways do you try to stay connected when you have to be away?