Mom guilt is real. If you’ve experienced it, I don’t have to tell you that it starts the moment the pregnancy test comes back positive and probably lasts a lifetime. For me, there are some things I don’t feel guilty about it in the slightest. Tossing old art work, treating my kids to bribe gifts from time to time, telling white lies about mythical figures, the list goes on. But if there’s one thing that floods my river of guilt most it has to be big chunks of time spent away from them. This is when I really do sweat the small stuff like missing picture day and dance class. And if there’s big stuff too, like a tooth that needed pulling and a fractured wrist (all of which happened during a recent week away), then I can’t help but feel like I’ve suffered a major mom fail.
There are the obvious moments of bliss while temporary away from your children. I’m talking the long uninterrupted showers and baths (if you’re lucky), finishing a book. Maybe even sleeping in. But for every perk, there are guilt triggers. Seeing other young children with their parents, getting text message updates of everything you’re missing out on in real time and the worst: Having to answer to their tiny faces in a Skype session and answering questions like what are you going and when are you coming home? Sigh.
Since I have had the pleasure (yup, it’s still a pleasure despite all of the above) to travel for work, I’ve picked up a few coping mechanisms to help ease my guilt and appease my husband who inevitably has to pick up the slack. Hopefully these can help other moms in the same guilt-wrecked boat.
Let Them See You Off
My kids love to drop me off at the airport, time permitting of course, and we even have dinner together before overnight flights. Not only does it remove any anxiety the whole family feels (well, mainly my husband and I), but it’s now become a fun tradition. The kids get to see the airplanes out the window and I get to squeeze them and see their faces just a little bit longer. Win-win.
Send Them Emails
When my kids were born, I created email accounts for each of them with the intention of sending them messages throughout their childhoods, sort of like a digital scrapbook. I’ve sent them emails to talk to them about the journeys I’ve made while away to not only let them know how inspired travelling makes me but to also let them know how much I miss them.
Prepare For Departure
My kids are in primary classes and still require their lunches to be made so I’ve started a new tradition of asking them what treat of the week they’d like me to prepare. Some favourites are bite brownies, Krispie treats, muffins, etc. This way, they get a sweet homemade addition to their lunches and I still feel like I contributed in some way. Ditto for batch cooking a dinner or two, like lasagna or Shepherd’s Pie.
Remember That You’re Setting An Example
When all else fails and I’m really feeling like a crappy parent, I remind myself that I’m ultimately setting a positive example for my kids. I want them to realize that they too can be independent and career-oriented while still being an attentive mother.
A wise friend once told me that she asks herself at the end of the day if she did the best she could in certain areas. For example: Was I the best mom I can be today? Was I the best coworker/partner/friend/daughter, etc. If you think of your life with these buckets that need tending to, it can help keep your priorities in check and realize we’re all just doing the best we can.
Do you have any other tips for travelling for work as a parent? I’d love to hear them.