A quick Google search reveals very little about moms who travel for work, other than the associated guilt we all feel about it. There are resources for those who stay at home while the other spouse travels, but what about those of us who are the travelers? Some seem to think that it is a vacation to hop on a plane and come back days to weeks later feeling refreshed and ready to go. For me, the experience is quite the opposite.
At the moment, I’m sitting in Nairobi, Kenya, 7,500 miles away from home with a 7 hour time difference. Getting here required 2 separate 8 hour flights with a 5 hour layover, 27 hours from the time I left home until I arrived at my hotel. I am hoping to never fly that particular schedule again. I much prefer having a super long flight (much easier to get some quality rest) than maybe short 3-4 hour catnaps.
That said, I did sleep 11 hours last night at the hotel. That is something I can’t do at home and one of the things I appreciate when I travel. My husband sleeps like a rock and is able to fall back asleep immediately after being awoken. Me, on the other hand, I wake up when one of the boys sighs too loudly and it takes me an hour or more sometimes to fall back asleep.
Preparing for a two-week trip like this isn’t the easiest, either. We are lucky to have my sister-in-law living with us. As a stay at home mom, she is able to take care of my kids while I am on the road and my husband works. Before we moved into this arrangement quite recently, I sometimes drove one child 4 hours each way to my parents’ house so my sister-in-law only had to deal with one extra child, not two, in her 1 bedroom apartment. That wasn’t always a spectacular arrangement, either, as both of my parents still work, so they had to also have a babysitter available to them. My husband also got less time with both children because whomever stayed with my sister-in-law would sleep there overnight, since my husband works construction and his shift could vary. Sometimes it was a night shift, meaning he needed to sleep during the day, or he needs to leave at 4 or 5 am, which is not a good time to be waking a child to transport him to a babysitter for the day.
Logistics for those trips were also complicated. One suitcase for each house – do I have enough clothing for each child? What about snacks? Do they have their favorite toys packed? Do they need a blanket? And just how many diapers do they need? If it’s fall or spring, do I pack long sleeves or short sleeves? I always tried to make sure laundry would only need to be done once while I was away, but there were always accidents or complications.
Then, sometimes my parents would only be able to keep one of the kids for one or two of the two or three weeks I’d be away. How do we plan logistics for pick up or drop off? Where can my parents and husband meet? What happens when a trip is extended because of a coup d’etat? (Actually happened.)
My boys are very close in age, so my oldest never traveled with me when he was an infant, but my youngest traveled to Peru and Brazil before he turned two. I also traveled on a few trips without him while he was still breastfeeding. Logistics of either of those trips were also complicated. Either packing and trying to figure out the best way to carry a 1 year old on a plane (I recommend a wrap carrier!) or trying to find convenient times and places to pump (including waking myself up in the middle of the night) and explain to customs folks that yes, as a matter of fact, I can carry all of this breastmilk back on the plane with me. Maybe I’ll explore some of these issues in future blog posts, though.
I’m sort of glad those days are over as the boys are now 4 and 5, but it brings a whole new world of complications. C is now in school. While it’s only kindergarten, he has “homework” sometimes and I want to be as connected and as involved as I can be with his school. He had only completed 1 full week before I left for this trip. I warned his teacher ahead of time (I’m hoping there are now behavior changes while I’m gone!) and I also asked if there was anything I could do while traveling to support her classroom in anyway which she did give me an idea for, so I’m hoping to do that as well. I also packed his lunch for the majority of the days he has gone to school, but I don’t want to require my sister-in-law to do that, so I put enough money on his card so he can buy lunch for the next two weeks. If my sister-in-law chooses to pack for him a few days, that is up to her. He does get snack time as well, so I also made sure there were enough snacks and juice boxes (100% juice!) for him to choose from before I left.
C and G are both playing soccer. Thank heavens that for this year they are on the same team, so at least there is only 1 practice per week and 1 game per week. My husband is able to take those on while I’m away. But then there are the surprises – like I learned on Saturday, while I was on my layover, that there are soccer pictures this week. On Monday. So that’s another evening that the boys have to be at the soccer field and their uniforms need to be ready to go after their Saturday game. Guess E (my husband) gets to deal with that!
Well that was a pretty long-winded ramble, but I am hoping to blog more regularly about this – what has my experience been thus far? How do we stay connected? Where do we go from here. I hope I haven’t bored any potential readers and would love to have comments about your experiences have been or what topics you’d like to explore.