When you have a family and a career, you pretty much have two separate lives. One is your professional career, which no doubt eats up a lot of time, and the other is your obligation to your spouse and children. Finding a balance between the two is a constant struggle for many professionals, a feat made much more difficult when you’re traveling for business.
Going from work to home is one thing (even if you’re at the office you’re still only a short trip away from your loved ones) but when you’re in a completely different city, the distance can take a toll on you and your family. Even the most understanding of families can feel a bit abandoned when a spouse/parent is away on business, though there are a few things you can do to ensure a balance between your work and your family. Here are some to consider then next time you’re on a business trip
Traveling for work isn’t exactly a fun-filled trip for you, but it may seem that way to your family. A partner may feel like you’re escaping on a leisurely vacation and children may think the same. Explain to your family exactly what the business trip is about, what you’ll be doing, and how it truly is important that you attend, so everyone understands, feels informed, and knows you’re not going away “just for fun.”
If you think your business trip will be stressful, just think how rough it’ll be for your partner to be left alone for days on end, especially if you have a few kids. Your absence will definitely be felt if there are tons of family responsibilities to manage (school, music lessons, sports leagues, etc.) and even though you can’t really change the situation, acknowledging that you know just how much your partner is doing to make up for your time away can make all the difference. An honest expression of gratitude and devotion can be all a partner needs to get through those few days on their own.
Transform your business trip into a pseudo-family vacation simply by taking a family member with you. Having your partner along with you can do a lot to alleviate the stress and loneliness of a business trip, even if they only stay for a few days. Kids are a different story, though if you have a child that’s a bit older, and you don’t mind leaving them alone for a bit while you attend to your business obligations, the effect can be the same.
One of the beautiful things about social media and the online world is how you can still interact with your family, or anyone, despite a large distance between you. If your family are big on Facebook, Instagram, Tumblr, or Twitter, take some time throughout your hectic trip to post/like/comment on their profiles. It’ll seem like you’re still around and available while you’re gone. A few texts or chats can do the same. With technology these days you can even facetime or skype your loved ones whenever you feel like it.
Ideally you’ll know exactly what parts of your day you’ll be entirely unavailable during a business trip, or at least when you can’t take calls or the like, and if that’s the case, you should let your family know too. Having a family member call you right in the middle of a business meeting won’t do for anyone (you can’t take the call, they’ll feel like you’re ignoring them) so ensure your family knows when you’re available. This works both ways, as you should be aware of your family’s schedule so you also know when is best to check in.
You love your family, no question there, and you (mostly) love your job, but that doesn’t mean you don’t need some time to yourself. Quality “me” time can go a long way in recharging your batteries, thus reinvigorating your spirit when in the realms of work and family life. At home this can be a tad difficult, so capitalize on the time you get alone during your business trip by reconnecting with yourself. No doubt your family and co-workers will appreciate the uplifted change in attitude that will be a result.