Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Reader request 1: Travel and the working mom

Jennifer (ponderosa) asked how I manage child care when I travel for work. I only do it 3 or 4 times a year, but I've tried several different strategies, all of which have their pros and cons.

Leave the kids at home. This is what I did last week. I make arrangements for the kids to spend longer days at child care, and sometimes add a Friday, usually my/their day off. Our center is very accommodating (I always offer to pay for the extra day, and they almost never charge me.) My husband assumes all the drop-off and pick-up duties.

The benefits are pretty obvious--less disruption for the kids, and I travel without small, demanding, occasionally loud companions. This was a huge blessing last week since I ended up spending about 8 extra hours killing time in airports due to missed connections. Instead of having to entertain the kids, I did a Sunday crossword puzzle; read a couple of magazines, two entire books and about 18 old sections of the New York Times I'd saved; got a manicure (Detroit airport has a salon!) and ate several unfettered meals. And while I'm at my destination, I can work late without worrying about relieving a babysitter, as well as meet up with friends in the evenings.

The drawbacks: It's tough on Jeff, since he has to take on more kid stuff than he usually does, and cut back his work hours. I miss the kids, and they miss me (see yesterday's post-traumatic temper tantrum).

Take the kids along. I have actually only ever taken one at a time. I deposit him/her with my mother-in-law, who lives about two hours' drive from New York City (where I'm usually traveling). Or we both go to NY and stay with my cousin there, and she provides not only room and board, but also babysitting services (yes, she is a saint).

So the good news is I'm not separated from one kid, and the load is lighter for my husband. My cousin claims she loves having us, and of course if it's my MIL is always thrilled to have any of us visit.

But it can be very stressful traveling alone with a child, and feeling like I have to rush home from work every day to take over for the (unpaid!) babysitter. I don't go out in the evenings, or I drag the lucky child with me.

Import help. This is what we did for BlogHer last year. My mother-in-law wanted to come visit anyway, so we asked her to come during the time I'd be gone. So while I was off livin' it up with the women of the blogosphere, the kids got some Grammy time and Jeff had some extra adult assistance. Everybody was happy.

Overall I think the trips have been good for us. Once a quarter is enough--I bow to those far more frequent travelers out there.


Jennifer (ponderosa) said...

I had never thought of bringing just one child with me, I can see how that might work well. Esp. since I would be travelling by car not airplane. And it's a lighter load on the babysitters at each end... Hm. I will ponder.


Lady M said...

Wow, you have done a whole bunch of different things! So far, I've always gone on my own, with our nanny watching Q during the day and SwingDaddy at night. March will be the first business trip where we're both gone.

It's not easy to be gone, but I did appreciate sleeping through the night in those earlier months. Not being able to get my breast pump to work well for me was a nightmare though. Ouch!