This week I’ve had a new experience as a working mother, heading away on my first work trip that involved 2 nights way from my little man (he was 14 months old this week).
I documented my thoughts in two parts, on the plane away and then on the way home as you will read below.
In summary, we all survived to tell the tale! But, I think my son, husband and I all gained confidence out of the experience. The smile I got from both of them when I got home was pretty special.
I’m heading away on my first work trip since becoming a mum. It is a new feeling and experience.
People have asked how I’m feeling about being away from my little man for 2 nights and I told them that I felt ok. I have complete trust, faith & confidence in my husband to look after our son. He is also very willing and capable to do this and when I asked if he would be ok, he answer “why not - I know how to look after our child!”.
Yes, there is an emotional bond between mother and child that never goes away. Going on this work trip, I’ve gone through similar emotions like when I dropped the little man off of at childcare for the first time. The maternal bond is strong, and distance nor time doesn’t change that.
My village is amazing. As I’ve already commented, my husband is great, and I’ve got supportive parents who are looking after my son on a day they don’t usually do. If I needed my in-laws,I know they would have helped out as well. Childcare days haven’t changed, and the village is coming together to help me out whilst I’m away.
Prior to leaving I did have a feeling of guilt and I felt that I needed to do more around the home knowing I won’t be around for a few days and it can be busy on childcare days. We also had a family day out together and headed to the Eltham miniature railway, followed by lunch and a family walk with the fur baby. It was great to spend some family time together as I’m away then my husband is away the following weekend. These days together are special in creating lifelong memories.
Back to the trip. I have tried to live in the moment for the last few years and not think too much ahead as I know that life is short, and you never know how things can change with one phone call. So, I’ve compartmentalized the trip in my mind, knowing it is for work & I’ll be in ‘work mode’. But, getting on the plane, there were a few quiet tears and deep breaths in with the maternal heart strings pulling. In the back of my mind I knew this would happen.
There was a baby on the plane which made me think of my son. I’ve been THAT parent on previous flights with a crying baby and I know the parents would have been doing everything to try & make the baby stop crying. It can be tough, but my heart went out to the parents.
"you need to do something for you"
I’m on the plane home. Please don’t judge me, but I’ve coped. The hardest moment was singing ‘twinkle twinkle little star’ to my son prior to him going to sleep on the first night. Otherwise, I’ve been in work mode & mindset for the rest of the trip. I have a small bit of mum guilt that I should be more emotional than I am. But I knew my son was being well cared for by his father and the village has come together. As one fellow mother said to me ‘you need to do something for you’ and I think that summarises this trip. I know I am a better mum by working. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve missed my son and husband and I enjoyed the cuddles that night when I returned home. But this trip was also a good experience and opportunity for all three of us.
I’m still breastfeeding morning and night so I took my hand pump away with me. Yes, it was annoying and I didn’t pump at the normal feeding times. But, it was something I know I needed to do.
Something funny was that you would think that being away you would get a decent sleep - no! I am not feeling 100% with a cough and woke up both nights in the middle of the night coughing. Day 1 I needed to be up early for the conference, but then day 2 I didn’t sleep in - my body clock is so used to getting up early. WHY!!!!
To fly back, I’ve taken what a colleague referred to as the ‘social flight’ of 1pm from Brisbane so I can be home for dinner & bath. But I didn’t care, I knew why I was flying home at that time.
What helped make the trip a success?
having a good conversation with my husband - having his support for my career was the main element. He doesn’t need to travel with work and was more than happy to do drop off & pick up for childcare. If he couldn’t do this, that would be an issue
Being able to call on family to help with looking after my son on a day that we didn’t usually have childcare
FaceTime / communication whilst away - I face timed at the start of the bedtime routine to check in how the day went and so my son could see & hear from me. Getting regular updates was useful to know my son was doing well.
Being organised / having a plan - know who is doing what & when
Meal plan - my husband went to my parents house for dinner the first night & had a prepared meal from the freezer the second night to save on cooking & one less hassle
Having confidence in my husband - I knew that he was going to do the best by our son and there was little for me to worry about. Selecting flight times that worked for me Previous travel - this wasn’t my first work trip and I know what to expect, which is one less stress
There is a natural maternal pull, but as a working mother, have the confidence in yourself and your village that you can travel if you need to for work. Take the opportunity if it comes up and make it happen – your village will be there to support you. As my great aunt used to say ‘why not?’. It is good for you, your child and your partner. Being a mother does change you, but you still also need to do something for yourself.
It’s interesting that people have commented about working mothers and travel, but the same view isn’t said for working fathers. I’d be interested to hear what it is like for new fathers when they take their first few trips away from the family. Do they have the same feelings of guilt, scared of missing an important milestone? Interestingly people don’t ask the father about travelling, this question is saved for the women instead.
It was a big week both emotionally and physically, but we have made it to the end of the week all in one piece (minus a cold I can’t shake). I won’t lie there were moments of being emotional and feeling of mum guilt, but I have also taken a great deal of confidence out of the week. Not only for myself but also my husband who was amazing. Now to enjoy a nice glass of wine tonight to celebrate!