Your job means you have to travel away from home frequently. How do you balance this with your other ‘job’ as a mum? Coach Amanda Alexander has some tips.
As a working mum, balancing the work life balance is hard enough, without throwing frequent business trips during the week into the mix. Here are six handy tips to help you cope.
1. Have a ready packed bag stored in a wardrobe with all your travelling basics in it. A separate wash bag to the one you leave in your bathroom, a spare pair of slippers, hairbrush and travel hairdryer. That way, you only need to add your clothes each time, reducing the packing time and the risk of forgetting your toothbrush! Keep a travel list in the bag also just to be able to check off the additional items – as a busy working mum, the tick list is your friend!
2. Have back-up childcare provision. Thankfully (hopefully!) your nanny, nursery or child minder is fantastically reliable, but you are always going to encounter situations when your train is delayed, or you get stuck in traffic and the childcare provision just isn’t going to cover you. Have a reliable alternative – a friend, a babysitter or another child carer that is able to work on an ad hoc basis. This person may even be able to cover you during the school holidays. This will hopefully alleviate the stress of dialling myriad numbers in complete desperation from Belgium, when your child minder rings in sick.
3. Make the time spent travelling work for you. How tired are you of other working mums expressing their envy that you actually get to sit down and relax whilst you’re waiting in busy airport terminals and on trains? The reality is very different, even if you are sitting down without the constant chatter of children (well, at least not your own). Try and work smart and get work done in these periods, that way you might just be able to switch your laptop off on Sunday afternoons.
4. Join the reward clubs. If you have certain route you fly frequently, or hotels that are regularly on your hit list, become a member. You may find the lounge privileges and room upgrades help ease the pain of travelling so much. Even if it is a case of saving loyalty points whilst filling up your car with petrol up and down the M1 – make the most of the travelling for your own benefit.
5. Manage expectations. There are too many marital rows caused by poor communication, and, let’s face it, as a working mum, sometimes you just want to sit in silence! If your travel plans have to eat into the weekend occasionally make sure that your partner is aware of this and has plenty of notice, if possible. Invest in a great wall calendar in a highly visible place that you can mark your travel plans down – you will be able to see future childcare gaps much more easily this way too.
6. Challenge the need to travel. Have you ever been in the situation where a flight or train has been cancelled and you have had no way possible to get to your meeting? Were alternatives made and the original objectives still met? If you answered in the affirmative then you would be one of many, this is all too often the case. Save your employer some money and start challenging the need for all the trips; can video conferencing do the job just as well? Make sure that you are clear that this is NOT about being a working mum, it’s about efficiency in general.
Amanda Alexander is mum to two fabulous boys and Founder and Director of Coaching Mums. Since 2003, Coaching Mums has helped thousands of working mums to swap a guilt-ridden, stress-driven vicious circle for virtuous circles of calm, confidence and fulfilment.