Most of us don’t find commuting fun - and having a long commute as a working mom can be especially tough. What if, though, your travel is even more intense - and rather than heading to your office, you’re en route to someone else’s … across the country?
A portion of my job requires travel. Before my daughter was born, I had no qualms about hopping on a plane, sometimes to a new place (Pocatello, Idaho, anyone?), and exploring if any free time presented itself. Life has changed the way I spend time away from home, including how long and how much I can pack into a shortened period of time. Most trips I try to max out at two nights, though there are a couple of events annually, such as trade shows, where it’s closer to a four-night stay.
Here are a few ways to help make being away a little easier on you, your significant other, and your little ones:
What’s for dinner? If you cook, make your family a favorite meal that can be easily reheated. It will be easier on your significant other, since they won’t have to think about what’s for dinner when they get home, and you know there won’t be any fussiness related to a meal (hopefully) that they don’t like. Bonus points if there’s enough for leftovers.
Where’s Mommy? Video chat when you can. This can be tricky, especially if you’re in different time zones and your end of your day occurs after your child’s bedtime. An alternative is to make a video message that you can send to your significant other, or whoever is watching your child, so that your child can see the message at bedtime.
Another idea is to send a postcard with some information on the town or city where you’re working. For example, the foothills in Pocatello are absolutely gorgeous and you can drive 80mph on the highway. Not bad, Pocatello. Not. Bad.
Breastfeeding basics: You know automatically that breastfeeding entails a bunch of extra equipment, if not an extra bag. This can be tough when you’re on a short trip and you’re trying to keep to a carry-on. Choosing a versatile bag that can fit your breast pump, related parts, and your laptop and other necessary work needs, is one viable option.
If you need a place to pump, check out the mamava app – it will let you know where there are pump-friendly places, including ones with their own pods that provide privacy and a little bit of quiet. Being in airports often, this company has saved me a number of times when I needed to pump before or after a flight.
For breastmilk, I highly recommend a company called Milk Stork, where you can ship back your breastmilk in a cooler overnight. Although TSA now allows breastmilk to go through security, I found that the way each airport handles milk is not consistent. For example, one airport only tested one bag of milk whereas another airport insisted on testing all (17!) bags. Did I mention you may want to give yourself some extra time at security? One more thing: check with your company to see if they will reimburse this cost. Thankfully, mine does.
Practical advice aside, give yourself some time to unwind and relax (if possible) when you’re at your hotel. How often do you get the opportunity to go to bed early -- or, even better, sleep in until 7?
Annette has a background in hearing and wearable technology, focusing primarily on improving communication for those who have hearing loss or those who simply want to communicate better. She has a background in audiology and cognitive psychology, with an interest in the geriatric population. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband, Scott, and daughter, Elena.
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