Traveling for work can bring lots of baggage to a family dynamic. Every so often I have to travel for my job. The travel part is often exciting and rewarding, but being separated from my wife and kids is not. It can be difficult to explain to little children why Daddy is leaving and how long he'll be gone.
It can also be challenging for parents to keep in touch with family back with work responsiblities on the road, attending meetings, and dealing with clients. Plus, there's very little quality time captured through a cellphone conversation.
Here are a few ideas to help everyone survive Daddy's business trip.
1. Have a face-to-face talk.
The day before you leave, sit down and speak to your kids about why you have to leave and when you'll be back. Tell them that you'll be keeping in touch every day and also explain to them that they need to pay extra special attention to everything Mom says.
2. Put that smartphone to use.
Call home often. Even if the phone conversations are brief, they matter. You can also use Skype to tell the kids good morning or read them a story at bedtime. Surprise them throughout the day with emails and videos telling them how much you love them.
3. Keep a calendar.
Chances are your kids have lots of meaningful activities while you're gone. It can be almost impossible to keep track of all the ballgames, birthday parties, and school outings that your kids are participating in. Before you leave home, write down all of the upcoming events and make sure to ask your children about them while you're gone.
4. Get help.
If your kids are small or especially challenging and your trip is lengthy, look into asking for or hiring some extra help. It might help Mommy maintain her sanity.
5. Don't return empty-handed.
It doesn't have to cost much, but returning home with a few small gifts for your wife and kids will show them how much you were thinking of them on your trip.
6. Build in some quality time.
When you return home there will be a mountain of tasks to be done. But your most important task should be spending quality time with your spouse and children. Listen to their stories, ask a bunch of questions, and look at their photos and videos.
7. Appreciate Mom.
While you're sleeping 8 hours at night or relaxing with an on-demand movie in your hotel room, remember that Mommy is back home, exhausted and praying for a good night's sleep. Be prepared for her to be a little jealous that she's not out on the road enjoying dinners on the company.
8. Bring the family along.
It may not be feasible but if you've got a few days off at the end of your business trip, your wife could bring the kids to meet you and enjoy some new sights. It would give everyone in the family something to look forward to.
9. Weigh the pros and cons.
If you're a dad, and your job demands traveling, then you and your wife should have a serious conversation about the effect that traveling has on your relationship. The money may be great, but your role as father is priceless.