Traveling Mama Says No To Feeling Guilty

Traveling Mama Says No to Guilt

Traveling for work before kids and after kids are worlds apart. At one point, it gave me a sense of purpose and made me feel important… even a tad bit glamorous. Traveling to new cities, dinners at great restaurants, topped off with a hotel stay complete with a freshly made up bed of clean linens and fluffed pillows. Whether it was an overnight trip or a couple of days, it was never a big deal. I enjoyed it. I still do. But the guilt creeps up… ‘you’re leaving again’.  It usually sets in when I’m packing, which honestly happens while my husband is putting down the kids. Of course I’ve waited until the last minute. Or, I opt to put them down, but then I’m up waaaay too late packing and exhausted for my early morning travels.

I’ve always traveled for work and enjoyed it. But with kids, it’s become increasingly difficult to just pack a bag and go. When I’m on the road, the show {aka workday} typically runs from sun up ’til sun down and usually well into the night for dinner & a networking drink, or maybe two. Personally, I’m completely drained after the end of a work trip and honestly need a day to just veg. Of course, that doesn’t happen. 

Working Mom Travel Tip: While I’d much rather skip dinner and head back to the hotel after a meeting, it’s not the protocol.  Networking is important to enhancing and growing a career. It’s an opportunity to make new connections and deepen existing relationships. I take advantage of the time away. If I can’t be with my kids and husband, why not maximize the time for my professional benefit?

Here are a couple of tips for working mamas, especially those that travel, not to feel guilty the next time you board a plane or jump in the car for an overnight trip:

  1. Talk to your kids about your trip. Tell them where you’re going. Show them on a map. If they have a calendar, write down when you’re leaving and when you’ll be back. Engage them in your travels.
  2. Make plans to talk. Talk to your spouse, sitter or kids about when you can talk or face time. Even if it’s for a few minutes while I’m freshening up between meetings and dinner, that opportunity to say, “Hi, how was your day? Goodnight and I love you” is critical to your kids and you! I have to feel connected to my family and don’t want my kids to feel like I’ve abandoned them.
  3. Spend quality time when you get home. When you’re home in time for a sit-down meal or the chance to read a book before bed, really take a few minutes to connect with the kids. Turn your phone off and shut down the laptop. Listen to them. Ask them questions. Tell them how much you missed them and how much you love them.

Oh, what about gifts? I never used to bring home souvenirs to my kids. I’m a practical person and feel anything from a gift shop is just a waste of money. Co-workers had me convinced I was missing out on a chance to reconnect, so I caved in!

Working Mom Travel Tip: Instead of spending a lot at the hotel or airport gift shop, check out the <$5 toy bins and stock up on little toys. I kept them hidden in my car so when I get home from a trip, it’s easy to grab something and “gift it” when I walk in the door. (Shh…. don’t tell my kids). 

Poolside while mama works
Poolside while mama works

I miss my kids terribly as any mom does, but travel is part of my job and I’ve had to take control of my mind to just say NO about feeling guilty. I won’t feel guilty. I can’t. I know what I’m doing is important for our family and it includes travel. I often find myself on the plane or in bed scrolling through my phone looking at pictures and videos of my kids. I smile, laugh out loud, and of course shed a few tears. But when I’m on the road I work hard to maximize the time away, so that when I’m home I can truly just enjoy what’s most important. The travel continues… but it’s guilt-free!

Tricia is a mom, wife & 16+ year HR professional who has a passion for writing and has been a Tampa Bay Moms contributor since 2016. Tricia and her family have lived in Tampa since 2013. Originally from the Windy City, Tricia & her husband enjoy the beaches, exploring great restaurants & spending time at the ball fields with their two kids, Luca & Gia. Tricia has a Master of Arts in Communication from Western Illinois University and is SHRM-SCP certified. When not working or spending time with her family, she enjoys fitness, is a coffee enthusiast, enjoys craft beer & country music. Follow her on IG @tsportsman.