According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, American businesspeople took 445 million trips in 2011. Assuming that a large percentage of those travelers are also parents, that’s a lot of mothers and fathers away from home. Add that to the hundreds of thousands of physicians, law enforcement officers, pilots, and other workers whose jobs require an on-call status—snatching Mom or Dad away from the dinner table or the baseball diamond—and we’ve got the makings of an interesting daily routine.
In our household, my husband is the one who travels for his work, often assigned to flying out for a few days at a time without much notice. The inconsistency of his work schedule drops a daily dose of stress on our kids, and me and spurs me into creative solutions for managing three young children and freelance work from home.
The dynamic of a family with a parent who travels, who is on-call, or who otherwise works at a job that is not so 9-to-5 is an altogether different one, and calls for a few handy tips to manage the business of home—and career.
Yes, there’s some stress. Parents’ travel for work puts strain on families at the Chicago Tribune. Recognize the stress, and come up with traditions and ways to connect. In a special to the Tribune, Joan Cary cites parents who emphasize communication as one of the key elements to helping the whole family cope with absence.
The rise of the ‘married single mom’. Or Dad, take your pick. The point is, when two becomes one, things are going to change a little. Jacoba Urist with Today Moms points out that when one parent is away, things are different.
Staying in touch. Tips for Traveling Parents: Seven ways to stay connected to family offers simple tips to help ease the discomfort of a parent being away on business from The Momiverse.
Home one day, gone the next. Shelly Bowen with Socialmoms.net reaches beyond technology and lists several ways to help children with parents with the home again, gone again schedule in Helping Kids Cope With a Frequently Traveling Parent, while throwing in a little reading, writing, and geography for the family into the mix.
A life (ab)normal. Traveling Parents – Can Life Be Normal? Well, not really, but we can make the best of it. Alicia Slansky with Yahoo! Voices rightfully includes firefighters and medical professionals in the mix of parents whose travel and on-call work schedules can upset the family dynamic.
Gone solo. Like the Today Moms article above, Liza Barry-Kessler also adds the parent at home into the mix of family management help when one parent travels. Tips for Parents Who Travel for Work – and the Solo Parent Staying Behind.
Home base. As the parent at home, I second the need for special tips when the home schedule is rocked by the revolving door of my husband’s schedule. Out the Door: 4 Tips for Home Base Survival With a Parent On Call offers solutions to help break up the monotony of missing Dad.
Home education. Use your traveling schedule as a rich learning experience for your children. I shared some of the skills my children have worked on in 7 Simple Geography Lessons for Children With Traveling Parents from ParentingSquad.com.
Just For Laughs
A little comic relief. Since I usually run The Home Show, I admit to leaving a list similar to this one one from Lisa Belkin on her Motherlode column at The New York Times: A Traveling Parent’s List. Disclaimer: My husband handles things just fine when I’m gone.
Just a few funny tips here from Ciaran Blumenfeld at Babble Voices with Don’t Phone Home From a Bar & Other Tips for Traveling Dads. Yeah, we can be happy for the parent who is having breakfast with a beach view. Or we’ll try to be.
Do you or your spouse travel for business? Are either of you ever on-call? How do you make it work, and what tips can you share with other parents?
Flickr photo by Peter Patau