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Planes to catch and bills to pay: tips for parents who travel for work

This week’s blog post is by WDP co-host Matt Rocco, who lives in the Edgewater Glen neighborhood  of Chicago with Professor Foster (his “Brown Mom” wife), and their daughter Viva, who wants a real souvenir, not some crummy mug from the airport.

This week, both my wife and I are traveling for work. Hopefully, we’ve left enough food in the automated feeder for our three-year-old to thrive. She generally uses the potty by herself, so I think we’re gonna be okay. And there are some Micro-Machines under the window in case Joe Pesci tries to get in.

I kid. She’s at Grandma’s – please don’t call DCFS.

Even though we’re not gone at the same time for long, and she’s happy to visit Grandma and Grandpa, we’re still wracked with guilt. She’s little, she’s our baby and we miss her. However, some people travel all the time and somehow make it work. Here are some hints on how to survive work trips when you can’t see your family.

Stay Aware

Children grow quickly and the younger they are, the more frequently the developmental milestones happen. If you want to stay invested and conscientious about your child’s growth, consider what is happening while you are gone.

If they are a baby, for instance, just one week of consulting work in Orlando could take you away from more than 500 different colors of vomit, 650 diapers and more screams than a Dario Argento festival.

If you have a toddler, a few days of training in a hotel conference room in Dallas might mean your child has reached high water marks such as learning to draw on the wall with crayon, cutting one’s own hair and the landmark fiftieth time pooping next to the toilet.

Of course, if your child is of school-going age, an extended weekend at an awards ceremony in Baltimore could mean you’ve missed two dozen slammed doors, a parent-teacher conference about your child’s swearing and bullying and a trip to the police station regarding an unfortunate shoplifting incident at the CVS.

To stay engaged and alert, bring a notebook in which you can make score marks of all the Rockwell-esque moments you’ve missed, or in which you can count the days until death.

Keep In Touch

We’re living in the communication age.  It’s like The Jetsons but without the swipes at ’60s youth culture. Thanks to inventions like the Skypes, Facepage, and BoopBeepBoopBeepBoop, you now have to comb your hair to answer the phone. Let these apps of the future help you keep tabs on the family you’ve temporarily abandoned in your unending quest for the almighty dollar.

Skype your spouse, nanny or robot maid, and ask to talk to your kids. Then, you can spend the next twenty minutes watching them run past the screen, shout distorted noises into the crummy laptop mic, refuse to come into the room, mash the keys with jelly-covered hands, or perhaps you can just swear and risk a stroke as you try to remember the WiFi code at the La Quinta when your connection fails over and over. The future is now!

Rest

Remember sleep? No? It’s supposed to be the consolation prize for not having sex with your partner anymore since the kids arrived. Unfortunately, it’s gone out the window as well. And speaking of windows, have you noticed the blackout curtains in your hotel room? Those are your new best friend. Close those puppies, and you’re one peyote button away from “Altered States.” You’ve got a very short window until you’re back in the world of little moppets hopping on your chest at 5:30 a.m. to ask if they can watch Sheriff Callie’s Wild West.

Be Mindful

Solitude allows room for reflection. Because you’re alone in a hotel room and afraid to touch the TV remote control without a HAZMAT suit (if you had a black light and some Luminol, it would shine like a lightsaber), perhaps it’s time to count your blessings. Sure, life can be tough, but think of how you live now – the cozy home, the devoted spouse, the unconditional love from your cherubic progeny. The way their eyes light up on Christmas morning. The smiles as they blew out the candles on their cake or first learned to button their shirt or pedal a bicycle. The way they call your name in an elfin voice when they need you. Their soft hugs. Oh, God, I’m so lonely! Why did I come on the trip? They’re growing up without me! How much are these little bottles of booze in the mini-bar? What’s the number for dialing out – I have to talk to my kid right now!!!!!

Treat Yourself

When’s the last time you did something for yourself? You’ve escaped the gravity well of domesticity; perhaps it’s time to pamper yourself a little bit. Indulge. Of course, you still have work, so you can’t get too crazy. And you don’t know this town. And you have to travel soon. And you can’t blow the family’s money. And you don’t want to get yourself into any kind of trouble. And, seriously, look at yourself, what can you even get away with these days? And you’re so sleepy. And you already put your flannel pants on.

Order a pizza, is what I’m saying. Order a pizza, and eat the whole damn thing yourself. Don’t even clean up the box, just leave it on the bed and fall asleep next to it.

You earned it.

There you have it. I hope your next business trip gives you an opportunity for some peace and focus.  And, seriously, don’t touch the TV remote in the hotel room.

If you’ve enjoyed this Parenting Media Association award-winning blog, subscribe to the WDP podcast (one of Podbean’s 10 most downloaded parenting podcasts worldwide and an iTunes staff pick for best parenting humor) for free on iTunes, or listen atwhitedadproblems.com. (Do note that the show has a potty mouth and is definitely for over 17 only.)

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