Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Business Travel

This week I am out of town for three nights at the National Employment Law Institute's Annual Conference. Believe it or not, I am very excited to be here! Missing my boys (like crazy) but I really do love my job (which for those of you who don't simple's a mixture of Human Resources (recruiting, so external hires and internal transfers/promotions) and Compliance (legal stuff). I love that I get to work with our employees directly, but that I also am doing data analysis/strategy, and that most of the time, it feels like I am "back in school" because I am learning so much about employment law/federal regulations/best practices. Anyway, it's nice to spend 3 days training so that I can be even better at what I do.

This view (our conference is on the 32nd floor of the Westin St. Francis) isn't too shabby either...

But on to more important things. I wanted to share some of my "best practices" for business travel, because the first time that I left Jack as a new mama (he was 4 months old and I had to head to Indianapolis and then Orlando, two weeks in a row!) I was so overwhelmed at the prospect of leaving him. (What complicated that trip more was that I was still exclusively nursing...that's a blog post entirely of it's own though because I have lots of learnings/advice when it comes to transporting...oh say...200 oz. of pumped breastmilk across the country for your precious baby.) I don't travel often (2-4 times a year probably?) but I think even if I was just on a day trip, it would still be challenging to leave my family if I didn't have some good things in place.
So here's how we make it work:
1) Leading up to any travel - I spend every minute that I can with John & Jack. I snuggle, read books, and play play play! I can never get enough of my boys but it is especially important to fill up the love tank before you head out of town. Here's how I spent my Monday night:
How cute is this little man? Just playing on some homemade drums. (I'm not crafty...but I am creative! He loved when I grabbed this stuff from the kitchen cabinets and realized that he could make lots of loud noise with it all!)
2) The day that I leave - we make sure that the refrigerator is stocked, laundry is clean/put away, Jack's back pack is packed for his 3 days at daycare (including his lunches...the kid eats well! This week he had polenta & pork, black beans & carrots, corn bread, yogurt, cheese, grapes, peaches, and avocado), etc. Part of this pre-work makes John's life easier...but he is incredibly capable and could totally handle it on his part of it just gives me piece of mind and reminds me that even when I'm away, my boys are taken care of. It always feels great to leave things "in order" so even if I am tired, or worried about other priorities (projects at work? washing my hair? calling back a friend that hasn't heard from me in weeks?) I don't let this priority slide.
3) Planning time to video-chat! I had an issue with my iPhone's wi-fi, and luckily a friend came to the rescue with an app I could download so we could video-chat without it (I can only FaceTime with wi-fi...booooooo AT&T!) which was great because seeing my baby's face is a NECESSITY. I love to talk to him in the morning & evenings and just watch him play and run around. Now that he can talk video-chatting is even more fun; it melts my heart when he says "Hi Mommyyyy!" and I love that he can hear my voice and see my face. Sometimes I think about how bad it is that we (John & I but also society in general) are so connected to our phones & the internet...but other times I see the benefits (like video-chatting with your 16 month old son with a few quick clicks) and I am so grateful! (How could I not be grateful when Jack kisses the phone screen?! So adorable!) John is also the best Bacon Papa there is and sends me videos (of Jack just hanging out & playing, or of him sleeping, because we are obsessive parents like that and we love to watch him sleep, haha) which is so fantastic.
4) Embracing a little "me" time. Believe it or not, I have a hard time taking time to myself because I just adore my family and want to be there for them/with them any chance I get. But sometimes mamas need to recharge too. Johnny does his best to encourage me to do this even when I'm home (a pedicure here or there, lunch with a girlfriend, or a solo trip to Target) but half the time I feel guilty taking "me" time so I fight it or push it off. Since I'm away from my family on a necessary business trip anyway though...I try to let myself sip my morning coffee while reading the newspaper with a great view, or I enjoy a leisurely meal with colleagues, or I just watch some girly TV (while answering emails!) because I can.
My homemade ravioli (stuffed with beef short ribs and smothered in an amazing sauce) definitely hit the spot...
5) Family. Honestly the only other thing we do/have to make business travel work is reach out and/or accept help from our family (this includes our dear friends who are like family!). My mom always steps in to help John & Jack while I'm away, and this week, our friends (& baby #2's godparents :)) invited John & Jack over for dinner two of the nights I'm away which is just the sweetest thing. It brings me so much joy and comfort knowing that they are with people they love, eating a great meal and playing and hanging out, while I'm away. I feel so blessed to have people who love and support us as we raise our little family.
Anyway, that's all the advice I have to share for now! Time to head to bed before another busy day!


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