They say absence makes the heart grow fonder. Who said that? I mean, we all could use some space from our spouse and our kids for a bit, just to give us time to miss them. Rejuvenate, recharge, re-energize. But when it’s taken to a certain level, absence only seems to cause distance (and we don’t mean physical). If you’re never home, you miss things. You might miss your daughter’s spelling bee. Or your son’s annual checkup. You might miss field trips, romantic dates with your partner, or you simply might miss those little moments that make family life rewarding. This is a fact of life for us road warriors.
But there are ways to shorten the distance between you and your loved ones, thanks to technology.
Chances are, you’ve gotten this travel-heavy job because you’re good at what you do. You love what you do (or at least, we hope you like it a little). We think to ourselves, ‘Well, them’s the breaks’. Or, ‘You can’t have everything’. Or even, on the worst ‘missing’ days, when you’re stuck on a snowy layover in Minnesota and they’re de-icing the plane for the tenth time and you know that right at that moment, the rest of your family is sitting down to dinner, ‘Is this really worth it?’ You might have that kind of a day every so often. But we are writing this article assuming that you love what you do, no matter the sacrifice. And we want to help you bridge the gap between work and family so that you can feel more connected.
Here’s the thing: if your trips are generally shorter and spaced apart, you might just want to use them as ‘mini-vacations’ and unplug from the barking dog, the household obligations, the clamoring children, etc. We have a heading for you guys, too. However, if you travel frequently and you’re gone for a week or more at a time, chances are that you miss your family when you’re away, and you feel that previously mentioned ‘missing out’ feeling. Most of this article is for you folks.
All that said, here are some tips on how to be in two places at once. Or at least on how to balance work and family life (not that we know THAT secret, but we do our best).
Carve Out Time While Away
Chances are, your schedule while on your trip will be hectic, but structured, giving you the opportunity to assess when your downtime will be in advance. This way, you can make sure you schedule a phone call with your partner or kids each day you’re gone. You’ll have your computer, and maybe you’ll skip drinks with the rest of the gang one night in order to Skype with your kiddos pre-bedtime. The trick to this —- that is, if you WANT to stay connected, and depending on the length of your trip — is to make the time available in advance to devote to specific family members. A little Face Time can go a long way when it comes to bridging distance.
Speaking of Face Time, there are a number of ways to stay connected to family while traveling (besides Face Time, of course). There’s Google Chat, which has video capabilities. There’s WhatsApp, also with a video function. There are myriad ways of seeing the faces of your littles and your partner while traveling. Familiarize yourself with these, establish set times to connect, and enjoy.
Look for the Good
So what if your business travel is few and far between? And what if (gasp!) you’re secretly LONGING for some alone time (what?) and don’t know when you’re going to find it? Make the most of your time away by booking a massage or facial at your hotel or a nearby spa. Get into bed early with your favorite PJs (the ones your husband hates) and a good book. Treat yo’self. Because you won’t get the chance again soon, and because you deserve it.
Make It Count
When you do find yourself at home, commit to quality time with family. Really relish those little moments, because, as all of us with kids know, they fly by. Plan outings, volunteer to chaperone field trips, and get involved in the fun stuff. Trust us, you’ll have a blast, and your kids won’t forget about it in a hurry (even if they don’t thank you in the moment). Make reservations at your favorite neighborhood restaurant and treat your spouse to some good food and wine. Try, above all, to stay present. We know, the dog needs to be walked and your twins are fighting over the remote (again) but these moments pass, just like the good ones do. Cherish ‘em.
The Secret to Family/Work Balance
We have not figured it out just yet. But when we do, we will let you know. In the meantime, employ some of these tactics as a frequent (or infrequent) flyer. They’ll make coming home that much sweeter.
Journey On, Janes!