Confession is good for the soul, so I recently confessed that as a working mom with a business to run, a husband and kids to nurture, and a household to manage, I secretly look forward to business trips. Although I don't want to travel frequently, I realize that I need one business trip a month to maintain my sanity. Having had kids later in life, I was shocked when I asked a close friend how she managed business trips with three small children, and she responded that she lived
for business trips (and hated weekends). While I don't hate weekends, I concur with loving, even needing
a monthly business trip.
Why do I love a business trip? I can't think of another situation where I'm:
Focused exclusively on myself (what I want for lunch, what I want to watch on TV in the hotel, etc.)
Outside my normal environment and away from pesky distractions, like my endless list of errands to run
Able to decompress and focus on those "C" tasks that never seem to get done on my to-do list-researching summer camp options, reading a great book, writing an article, etc.
If you've been dreading those business trips, think about small changes you can make so that the trips aren't just tolerable, but enjoyable. Consider these tips for sprucing up that next humdrum business trip:
Consider posting to Facebook about your upcoming trip to see if any of your friends might be in town during the same time. Maybe you can grab a glass of wine with an old acquaintance from high school who lives in the area-how cool!
Book a flight that arrives a few hours early so you have an opportunity to fit in a spa appointment, enjoy some shopping near the hotel, or even take a nap.
Pick a hotel that provides amenities you enjoy: a spa, a fitness facility, an enticing room service menu, a location in a walkable area, a Starbucks in the lobby, etc. Sometimes enjoying simple pleasures provides amazing self-care opportunities that we never seem to get at home.
Bring great reading for the airport and plane.
Let's face it: Moms are professional guilt trippers, so it helps to take proactive steps to minimize guilt:
Prep your kids for your absence. Mark on the calendar when you'll be gone and when you'll be back.
Laminate a large index card with information for dad or the caretaker (e.g. what to pack for lunch, pick up and drop off schedule, reminders to send back library books, etc.). These preparations ease your mind about the family's ability to hold down the fort in your absence.
Determine whether a nightly phone call makes your kids less anxious, and act accordingly. My husband and I used to schedule a nightly call with the kids when we took our annual anniversary trip, until my mom told me that the kids were typically otherwise distracted and doing fine until our nightly FaceTime call, which reminded them we were gone and made them sad. We decided that she would contact us if they asked her to call us. Otherwise, we'd save the call for the night before we came home. When I'm on business trips, I tell my husband that I'm always available if they ask to call, but not to suggest it to them (and usually they're fine without it).
Give the kids something to look forward to. I always return bearing gifts. They're typically an inexpensive knick-knack from the airport, oftentimes reinforcing key facts about the state or city (so I get bonus points for educational value, right?) Even consider printing a United States map on cardstock and letting the kids put a stamp on each state when you return (with a prize awarded for every x number of stamps.) Good old-fashioned bribery still works.
Dana Brownlee is an acclaimed keynote speaker, corporate trainer, and team development consultant. She is president of Professionalism Matters, Inc., a boutique professional development corporate training firm based in Atlanta, GA. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Connect with her on Linked In @ www.linkedin.com/in/danabrownlee and Twitter @DanaBrownlee.
Originally published on Professionalism Matters.