10 Tips for Your First Work Trip Away From the Kids

10 Tips for Your First Work Trip Away From the Kids

No need for nerves as you set off on your first business trip away from the kids.


By Kelly Bryant

So you’re about to embark on your first business trip away from the kids? The idea is filled with excitement, freedom, and, most of all, a ton of nerves. Who will take the kids to school? Who will pick up the kids from school? Will they miss me while I’m away? Will other parents think I’m a horrible mother? What if my husband sets the house on fire trying to make a grilled cheese sandwich?

Relax. While life may not carry on the same way it would if you were there (you know, doing everything the right way), it will, indeed, carry on. Here are 10 tips for making that first work trip a peaceful one for both you and your family.

1. Breaking the news. “With children, timing is everything,” says family therapist Julie Smith. “You don’t want to share your trip too far in advance, as it can cause added anxiety, nor do you want to spring it on them last minute. Three to four days prior to your trip, let them know you will be traveling. Print out a map so they can see where you will be, and share with them what you will be doing.”

2. Create a visual. Sherlyn Pang Luedtke, author of The Mommy Advantage, offers a really sweet way to reassure your children about your upcoming trip: “Create a simple processing book for your child to prepare them for your time away, so they know Mommy always comes back (it can be handwritten with stick figures),” she says. “The first page can be Mommy is going on a trip. The second can be Daddy/Grandma/Auntie, and your child read books and play. The third page illustrates the child misses Mommy. The fourth page shows Mommy always comes back.”

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3. Sweet reminders. If a book isn’t your thing, try this kid-friendly reminder of your return. “Make a calendar so the kids can cross off the days until Mom returns,” says Megan Bearce, a marriage and family therapist and author of Super Commuter Couples: Staying Together When a Job Keeps You Apart. Another variation is to put a piece of candy in a jar for each day mom is away. The child eats one piece a day and can see that when the jar is empty, it means Mom will be home.

3. Don’t diminish kids’ concerns. You may think you’re putting your family at ease, but be wary of certain expressions that can actually make kids worry more. “Take caution in saying phrases like, ‘There is nothing to worry about,’ ‘Don’t cry,’ ‘You just have to deal with it,’ ‘You get to be the man/lady of the house,’ and so forth, as these can cause children to deny or stuff their feelings, increase anxiety, or even cause undue pressure to take on more of the parental responsibility,” advises Smith.

4. Limit your check-ins. Your natural instinct may be to call or text your kids as often as possible to let them know you care while you’re away, but try to dial back on that inclination. “During travel, refrain from too many calls, texts, or I miss yous,” says Smith. “Too many check-ins begin to disrupt the child’s schedule and may make them feel guilty if they are enjoying activities and repeatedly hear that you miss them. It may also leave Dad or the caregiver feeling undermined.”

5. Give Dad some freedom. If you’re the person who primarily runs the household, it can be tough to let go of your rules in favor of your significant other’s while you’re out of town, but give it a try. “One of the benefits about moms traveling for work is that it provides Dad (or any other caregiver) a chance to find their own way of handling tasks, soothing children, and running the household,” explains Smith. “This can increase the father-child bond while also helping develop greater resiliency in kids.”

6. With that being said… Of course that doesn’t mean you have to leave your partner high and dry. “It is helpful to leave routines (children thrive on routines), a calendar of events, emergency contacts, meal plan ideas, and a few tried-and-true strategies for sticky situations,” offers Smith. A word of caution: Too many lists, charts, or plans can make Dad feel more like a babysitter rather than a parent, warns Smith.

7. Put something on the calendar. “Schedule special time with the kids when Mom returns,” says Bearce. “Be sure to turn off cell phones to avoid distractions.”

8. Provide tangible comfort. You may be far away, but soft reminders of you are not. “If you notice your child feeling overly anxious, offer them your pillow or blanket to sleep with or a T-shirt to wear,” says Smith. “Touchstones like this can create greater feelings of safety.”

9. Organize a VIP contact list. You may already have one handy, but if not, create a document including information of all members of your dream team. “Make sure you have all of your telephone numbers within easy access, like doctors, teachers, principals, neighbors, and babysitters,” says Maggie Stevens, author of ParentFix.

10. Give yourself a break … and some credit. “I often indulge in having my house cleaned prior to returning,” says Smith. “It takes the edge off those that are at home, and it allows me to focus on my kids rather than vacuuming when I come through the door.” She also wants moms everywhere to go easy on themselves. “Give yourself a pat on the back,” she encourages. “You’re wearing many hats, and it is important to take time to appreciate all that you do and all that you are.”

What’s your biggest concern when you go on a business trip?


Kelly Bryant is a freelance writer and pop culture junkie. She resides in Los Angeles with her husband and their two sons. Follow her on Twitter @MsKellyBryant.

Image ©iStock.com/PeopleImages


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