As professional women, we know the common stereotypes of business travel: men in suits jetting off to meetings or conferences while mom stays home with the kids... a stereotype that isn’t all that different from how the professional world is imagined more generally. But what happens when it’s mom who’s leaving on the business trip?
Mothers face different kinds of expectations when we need to travel, so it makes sense to consider bringing the family with us, particularly if you find yourself feeling stressed and distracted by all the pre-travel prep work. While this alternative isn’t for everyone, for some professional women it can make life easier and help us focus by cutting down on worries about what’s going on at home.
Here are a few factors to consider when trying to decide whether you should bring the family along on your next business trip. It may just be the work-life balance solution you’ve been looking for.
Check with the Boss
Before even thinking through the details involved in taking your family on a business trip, you’ll obviously need to check with your boss. While some employers are fine with including family on these trips, others draw a much stricter line between work and home.
If it is okay with your boss, you may need to jump a few hurdles to book your family along with you. This is particularly the case if your company travels on a reduced airline rate that your family can’t be included on. You’ll want to consider if getting your family onto the same flight and arranging other aspects of the travel process will be too much to handle in addition to work preparations.
Consider the Destination
While some kids will be happily entertained at the hotel pool no matter where you are, others will expect to go on excursions and spend their days skipping between various activities - which could be a problem if your travel is taking you to a small midwestern town where a client is located. It won’t help anyone to drag your family along on that kind of jaunt if the kids are going to be bored and your spouse stressed by watching them in an unusual environment.
It may be best, then, to take your family on trips only if there are fun activities nearby to keep everyone occupied. Otherwise you’ll be disrupting everyone’s schedule and patterns with little reward.
Rehearse the Rules
Before leaving for your trip, go over your expectations for the trip with everyone - especially your spouse. Show them your schedule, when you’ll be available, and when you’ll be working, as well as what things they’ll be doing during those times. This will help everyone feel prepared for the trip and create a sense of excitement for your kids.
It’s especially important that you review expectations with your spouse. Tell them about events they definitely won’t be included in, when you’ll be reachable by phone or email, and when they shouldn’t even consider calling unless there is an emergency. And as most moms know, fathers who aren’t primarily responsible for childcare may have a lower emergency threshold, so make sure you take that into account.
Business travel with family can be great, especially if there’s a little extra time in your schedule or you’re going somewhere especially fun. It can also be preferable to lining up extra child care, prepping meals in advance, and managing the other details involved in leaving the family behind for several days. This is all part of mastering work-life balance - the art of all professional women.
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