As working parents, we all feel guilt. I think it’s bred into us. We feel guilty about not spending enough time with our kids. We feel guilty about not being able to give them everything (we feel) they deserve. We feel guilty about being away from them too often. Heck, we even feel guilty about feeling guilty!!
But what should you do when you not only work, but have to travel on a regular basis? But unlike the “horse and buggy” era, there are so many ways to make sure your kids are okay with your travel, even if you’re not!
Event Planning Tips – Making it Work for your Family
Working parents have dealing with this issue for centuries. But a few hundred years ago, people were gone for months, or even years, at a time. Imagine going on a business trip, only to return and find your children are half grown. Even a few decades ago, long distance was incredibly expensive and only used sparingly.
Today technology has changed everything. We have email, Skype, cell phones, video recorders and other tools that we can utilize to stay connected with our families.
Event Planning Tips – Being There when you’re Gone
I know one family where the husband travels almost weekly. And it wasn’t that long ago that their phone bills were out of control. But with the advent of the cell phone, everything has changed. She often forgets what city he’s in, because she doesn’t have to know. She doesn’t have to know the city, the client or even which hotel he’s staying in. Because the number she’s calling is always the same. An unbelievable long distance plan allows them to stay in touch and speak every morning and evening. She feels connected in a way that wasn’t possible fifteen years ago.
Every traveling parent should have Skype. Not only is it free (yea free!), but it enables you to have face to face time with your family. They can talk about their day and see your reaction or you can read a bed time story and actually watch them drift off to sleep. Actual face time increases the connection and makes it easier for your kids (and you) when you travel.
Missing school plays and recitals has always been a sticking point for traveling parents. Video recorders have changed that. But now the iphone is taking it a step further! An app called FaceTime allows you to have a face to face conversation (similar to Skype) and you can watch that ballet recital or soccer game in real time. It really is the next best thing to being there.
Event Planning Tips – Making it Easier for Your Kids
Experts have written articles and books about it. Parental guilt is a big business and authors and therapists are getting rich from our guilt. But what can we do to ensure our kids are okay with us being gone? A few simple recommendations are…
Don’t make a big deal out of it – You’re going to work, just like any other day. You’re just going to be gone for a little longer than 9 to 5. The bigger deal you make out of it, the harder it is for your kids. Make it easy and casual for them, even if you’re crying inside.
Get them involved – Let them know where you’re going! Go online with your kids and show them the city you’re traveling to. Use it as an educational tool and find know some interesting facts about your destination city (Did you know that the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is in Cleveland?). If you discuss your trip and involve your kids, they’re less likely to feel lonely or left out.
Bring them back a present – Opinions differ on this point. But I think it’s important to let your kids know you’re thinking of them when you’re gone, within boundaries. But be careful. If you buy expensive gifts on a regular basis, it indicates a certain level of guilt (which yes, we do feel). It may leave you open to manipulation and set a standard that you shouldn’t have to meet. But a small gift, native to the area, can help your child feel more involved and let them know that they’re always on your mind.
Event Planning Tips – Maximizing Your Home Time
This is incredibly important. Take advantage of the time you’re not traveling. Make the effort to spend time with your kids. It doesn’t have to be (and it shouldn’t be) a wild crazy party every time you’re home. Go to the park, play a game, even just hanging out. Quality time with your family is what means the most to your kids.
No matter how you connect with your kids when you travel, or how often, guilt will be a factor. But it’s so important to remember that guilt is counterproductive. Make the most of when you’re home and enjoy the time you and your kids have together.