“There is a kind of magicness about going far away and then coming back all changed.” ~ Kate Douglas Wiggin
I’m on my last leg from an assignment in Eastern Europe to attend and assist delegates in a conference. Before that, I came from another weeklong midyear conference, out of town, from which I was the lead organizer for 500 delegates. Two weeks away from my family to fulfill my duties for work.
It’s been difficult both physically and emotionally to be away for so long. Before when I was single, I would relish the thought of traveling to new places. I’ve always wanted to visit different destinations since I was a little girl, and my work has given me opportunities to see beautiful places in my country and around the world. Travel has always been a passion and a blessing.
But having my husband and my daughter changed my priorities. If I can limit my trips now, I would gladly take that option. Otherwise, a lot of planning and preparation ensues. As a working mom, I not only have to ensure that every detail of the trip itinerary is complete, but also stock up on supplies for the household and endorse childcare to my family.
Here are some tips when a working mom goes away on a trip:
1. Make a Laundry List.
It helps to list down your daily routine so you can go it over with your husband, yaya or the Lolo/Lola on the things needed to be done and prepared everyday. This is what you do when your child wakes up, eats breakfast at this time, goes to her nap, playtime and bedtime routine. Schedules can be pinned to the ref or anywhere that can be easily seen, so the child’s routine will not be disrupted even while you’re away.
At work, make sure to sit down with your superior to let him know of your trip details and scheduled return to work. Update him with your tasks and things to be settled so there are no loose ends before you leave.
2. Accomplish in Advance.
Prepping is very vital prior to your trip. Plan the menu and the meal plan for the week. If you can, cook the food the weekend prior and assign days for the week for each viand. Stock up on groceries (with a little extra for emergencies). Leave some money with someone you trust in case of an emergency purchase. List down names and contacts of your pediatrician, teacher and nearby baranggay/ police station.
Meetings can be set prior to your trip so you can settle concerns with customers without worries. Submit all deliverables in advance and assure clients that they can still contact your assistant or reliever while you’re out.
3. Go online.
You don’t have to spend so much to call and check up on home. While away, I use different tools to keep in touch: Viber, Skype, FB messenger. Before I left home, I tested all the apps on my device and my husband’s and brother’s to make sure they’re working. We aligned time zones too so we know which is the best time to call each other. Now I’m learning to use WorldSim too so I can call home and work for a minimal rate.
In the office, I’ve turned also my auto-reply with my email address (not mobile phone) so customers and suppliers can still reach me for urgent matters.
I am grateful for the support system I have right now–my spouse and my parents, along with yayas and household help–that have allowed me to take on trip-related responsibilities while they take care of the home front. I’m fortunate as well to have workmates who are willing to carry some workload while I’m gone. Without them, the delicate work-life-travel balance will not be possible. So, while it’s expensive, I make sure to buy everyone little tokens of appreciation from my trip. Goodwill always goes a long way.
And while you’re at it, enjoy the trip! Let go of the guilt and take in the scenery. Each adventure truly changes you, and you leave with new life lessons.
Thankful and excited to finally go home!