As a working parent, balancing work and family life can be challenging at times. Being away from your kid during the work day is still a little rough and staying away for longer periods for a work trip may seem like a mammoth task.
You decide to travel with your toddler, and ultimately the whole family, and while it does allow you more time to bond with them, it has some challenges of its own. So how do you strike a balance between work and travel when taking care of a toddler?
We’ve gathered a few ways you can best juggle parenting and working all while taking care of your growing little one.
How to Balance Work and Travel with a Toddler
When you’re leaving the toddler
1. Preparing for the trip
Make sure everyone knows when your trip is. Be sure all the responsibilities have a point person and a system they can use to keep everything in check. If things can be prepared ahead of time, go ahead and do that. Have the daycare snacks ready, set the schedule on the laundry app so everyone has clean clothes the entire time you’re away, and endorse the activity calendar to the adult-in-charge when you’re away.
2. Spend time with your kid
Before your trip, make time for your toddler and give them your undivided attention. Ask them if they have any questions for you regarding the trip. Make sure you properly communicate the details of the trip so they know what to expect when you leave when you’re gone, and when you come back.
Don’t be afraid to discuss their feelings and validate them. Especially if it’s the first trip, things can be overwhelming. Give them tools to cope with these big feelings by helping them think through them, take deep breaths, draw, write in a journal, or seek out the other parent or caregiver for comfort if it gets too much
3. Make it fun
Just because you’re away doesn’t mean you can’t interact with her indirectly. You can leave little notes, doodles, or pictures for her to find while you’re on a trip. You can even make it a game by letting her find the “hidden treasures.” This helps redirect their focus on something fun and exciting instead of dwelling on the fact that you’re not around.
You can also choose a no-fuss play gym for your baby that is perfect for keeping them entertained.
When you come back, you can also bring back souvenirs. You can also show them all the pictures you’ve taken and tell them all the stories about your trip.
4. Video calls
One of the joys of the internet is the convenience of video calls. Video calls before bedtime or during breakfast can help ease your child’s anxieties and yours as well.
And don’t limit yourself with how many calls you can make either. Call as much as you want and your schedule allows. You miss your child and it’s okay to make one more phone call.
5. Be kind to yourself
You’re not a bad parent for leaving your child for work. Don’t be hard on yourself.
Remember, you left your child with loved ones who care for them as much as you do. Trust them to take care of your child how you would. You’re doing fine, you’re doing great.
When you’re bringing the toddler
1. Preparing for the trip
When you’re bringing your toddler for the trip, it’s most likely you’ll also be bringing in another adult to help you out while you do your work during the day. This can be your partner or another caregiver. Or you could be bringing your entire family.
Make time to organize your home before traveling. This ensures you don’t forget anything for your trip and it also makes it so much easier to come home since the house is neat and tidy.
The logistics of bringing your child with you to your business trip is pretty similar to any other vacation trip. Just make sure they have an extra set of clothes and some toys for them to play with during the flight.
2. Plan your itinerary
Your itinerary is just as important now as it is on any other family vacation. Avoid making these family trip mistakes and try to plan out your days as detailed as you can.
You won’t be out all day for your meetings. Plan out your itinerary so you and your partner adult-in-charge know when you’ll be out, where they can go while they wait for you, and where you can all go after.
If you happen to be in a city where you have family or loved ones that can take care of your toddler while you’re out for meetings, sharing your itinerary will make it easier for them. This way they know when to expect you and your little one and if they need to prepare meals for them.
3. Spend time with your toddler
Make time for your kid whenever you can. They’re in a new place and it could be overwhelming. You can take them out to explore and give them new experiences. Or you can call in room service and spend the whole evening cuddling.
However, you want to spend your time with your little one is precious. You brought them with you on this trip so you won’t be away for too long, go ahead and spend as much time as you can with them.
When you’re not ready
1. Postpone until you’re ready
Do not force yourself to separate from your toddler if you’re not ready, you don’t have the resources to make it possible, or if it’s just plain difficult for now.
If you can postpone the trip for a couple more weeks so you can plan and feel more secure with your decision to leave, do it. Give yourself the grace to prepare yourself and your kid for this trip.
2. Don’t beat yourself up
The pressure you feel is most likely self-imposed. Don’t beat yourself up for not being able to go on the business trip readily.
Don’t listen to other people telling you what “the right thing to do” is. The right thing to do is to listen to your gut. If it tells you that your baby may need some more time, then take some more time.
It can be difficult, especially on the first trips away. Find yourself people to support you whether you leave your toddler for the trip, you bring them along with you, or when you decide to stay home. What’s important is you are making the choice that’s best for you and your toddler.