I found out early on that I was the kind of mom that couldn’t bear to be away from my kids. I often joke that I had to have a second child in order to learn how to let go a little, since it would have been impossible to be as neurotic with two children as I was with just one.
When the kids and Go-Go Babyz were both small, I found I managed to juggle most, if not all, of my personal activities and work by toting the kids around with me. In fact, for the first four years of exhibiting at our trade shows, I brought the kids (and my mom or sister-in-law or husband) with me simply because I couldn’t imagine leaving them at home. Fortunately, I have a very understanding and willing-to-help family. In addition to having someone to help take care of the kids, I rationalized bringing them along by telling myself it was all in support of product development: personally dealing with the challenges of traveling with kids helped us create better products. This made complete sense to me and actually supported my argument for why I just had to have Nolan and Davan fly cross-country with me for work. I have to admit, however, that the long days working a trade show (trying to present myself and our products in a professional manner) and then running back to the hotel to do mommy duty (fun activities with the kids, then getting them fed and to bed) caused great distraction and, ultimately, extreme exhaustion.
Two years ago, while arranging for our show in Las Vegas, I convinced my sister-in-law and her roommate to come help with the kids. I purchased tickets and made hotel reservations. Then, two weeks before our departure, I came to my senses and realized, “I just can’t do it this year. It is simply too much.” What followed was a huge “aha” moment of letting go and finding out that the kids are much more ok with me leaving than I am leaving them. They had a great time with family and I had a much more productive show, as well as several dinners without the kids—we all know how nice it can be going out to dinner without the little ones!
Today, as I prepare for the trade show in Germany, the anxiety of leaving without the kids still consumes me; even though I know that the kids are going to be just fine without me, leaving them still breaks my heart. So, the following are some things I have learned to incorporate into my routine as I prepare for a flight without the kids that address both the professional and the mommy in me:
1. Finalize the “to-do” and activity list that the caretaker needs to be aware of early on. Don’t wait until the last minute to get everything squared away. Not having to worry about whether the kids will get picked up from school on time or driven to dance class gives greater piece of mind. Scratch this off your list early on so you can concentrate on other things (like your wardrobe on the trip). Having this done early also leaves time for you to add things you may have forgotten about.
2. Print out a nice picture of yourself with the kids. Add a little note on the picture and leave it for them (one for each if you have multiple kids) and take a copy with you!
3. Prepare the kids early on. Don’t wait till the last minute to tell them you are leaving. Let them get used to the idea. A great way to do this is to show them a calendar. You can mark the day that you are leaving as well as the day that you are coming home. Stickers on the calendar are a fun way to get them involved – especially if they are too young to read a calendar.
4. If you like to go over-the-top like I did, you can buy some inexpensive little presents (one for each day you are gone) and wrap them up. Kids love to unwrap things!
5. Pamper yourself for your flight. Movies (r-rated movies that you wouldn’t watch with the kids), books and comfortable clothes can equal a pleasant and relaxing flight. Think of this time as “me” time.
6. Determine the ways you’ll be in touch. Depending on your family, you can text, email, skype, or call. The kids can look forward to the times you connect.
So now that you’ve done all the preparation, relax and know that you’re ready for your trip, and so are your kids!
Anyone else have any great tips to share? Please, do!
President & Mom