Work-Life-Balance Tips for working parents: How to prepare yourself and your children for a business trip.
While most of the working parents go to work, which is within an hour from home, others often travel long distances. Business trips are becoming more and more common as many companies are now operating globally. Business trips have many positive aspects, but it is not always easy to maintain the work-life balance during a trip, especially if you are a parent.
Learn how to prepare yourself and your children well for a business trip, and how to keep in touch with your family on the road.
No more guilty conscience
When guilty conscience strikes again – many working parents know this feeling. To avoid this feeling, the most important step is your personal conviction that the trip is worthwhile. Rather than dwell on how you’re not with your child, think about how your role in the company is benefitting the family. This, of course, does not mean that children see it that way. But if you are committed to a job that requires travel, you can ease the pain and stress that children can cause, when they plead for you not to go. Take the time to think about why it is important that you travel and what potential benefits your children and your family have of it. It is also important that the other caregiver (spouse, grandparents or child care, etc.) also shares these beliefs. This allows you to master and overcome the inevitable educational challenges that arise when you try to maintain the balance between work and private life in business travel.
Prepare your children for the journey
Make sure everyone knows when your business is taking place. Create a calendar and check it with your family. Prepare everything that you can: who takes the trips to the football training etc. in your absence, all school records are signed, important transfers and / or the private mail are done, private appointments may have to be canceled, is enough clean linen and clothes in the closets and so on.
Plan dedicated time with your children before a business trip. Your undivided attention has more importance to your children than unconcentrated attention for a time. Take the time to share special moments with your family – during a walk, an excursion or a playful evening – before you begin your business trip.
Talk about your business trip, don’t avoid talking about the topic just because you know your leaving can cause tears. It is important that your child shares his feelings. Working parents should confirm these feelings by saying, “I see you feel sad about my business trip.” To speak consistently about what is done in a soothing tone, contributes to the development of communication, attachment and trust. This experience helps the children to prepare, think and be ready to cope with difficult emotions.
It is important that the person who travels and the other parent or caregiver at home are on the same side and support each other. The most important basic rules: the person at home should not use the traveling parent as a “villain” (e.g., “wait until your mother comes home”, “I call your father and he will not like that”); The parent who travels should support and not undo parent decisions made during his / her absence.
How to stay connected with family during business trip
Here are some ways to keep in touch during business travel and keep the balance between work and life despite the distance:
- Tell a good-night story: If you are in the same time zone and no appointments are scheduled in the evening, tell your child over video chat a goodnight story. When your evening is full of appointments, send a previously recorded video or voice message. Your child (and partner) will be happy hearing your voice!
- Photos: Share snapshots of special moments that you could take during the day, or take your child’s stuffed animal with you (please ask your child for permission first) and take photos of the animal (no need to sit it on the meeting table 😉 ) that accompanies you on the trip.
- FaceTime / Skype: Use video calls to connect personally during the trip – speaking, singing, joking, dancing, whatever you like. Just be mom or dad.
- Leave a note or picture: put it under the pillow of your child, write notes that the parent can put into the bread box at home or draw a morning greeting for each day.
- Questions: Children often have a hard time expressing their experiences through the phone. Ask open questions without Yes or No in your phone call, such as “What did you want to talk about, what was the best part of your day?”
- Postcards: Buy postcards from your different destinations, send them or bring them home.
- Gifts and souvenirs: The purchase of gifts can get out of control; make clear expectations and keep them small (for example, a gift of 5 EUR for each trip over several nights or start a collection like cups from any city).
With the right perspective, preparation and some strategies, the business trip for parents can be more relaxed and manageable. It may even be fun 😉
P.S. Book a chauffeur service to get extra time on your business trip for your family!