My Advice on being a Traveling Parent
In my position I travel a fair amount for work. This is certainly not a new thing for me, I have traveled in the past for previous employers. What is new, however, is that my youngest son is getting older and has become more aware of my absence. With that has come more emotions, understandably. One trip, however, changed everything.
Meet Astro. If you work in IT or with Enterprise Applications you may recognize him as one of the furry mascots for Salesforce. I attended Dream Force in 2017 and ever since I brought Astro home my youngest son fell in love with him. They go everywhere together, and now he goes everywhere with me.
My son would get really, really sad when I was gone. So sad it would make my travel extra difficult for my wife. One trip we decided to try something new. We let my son pick a cuddly friend that would travel with me. Of course, he picked Astro. I brought Astro on my trip and took pictures of him on our journey. Here he is on the coast of Maine.
Viewing the outdoors is not the only thing Astro likes doing, he also likes getting into trouble. He really loves to trash my hotel rooms.
Seeing these pictures and FaceTiming with Astro and I has made a significant improvement in my son’s mood while I’m away. He seemingly looks forward to my trips now because he is so curious and excited about what Astro is going to do next. This helps ease the anxiety and sadness exponentially.
We even kept the magic alive during a recent family trip where my son brought his Astros – yes we have 3 of them, Red, Blue, and Black. The three of them really did a number on our hotel room! The magic and wonder in his eyes upon our return was more than worth it!
When I travel now I also bring an Astro with me, whether I’m driving or flying. I generally take a bunch of photos of Astro doing crazy things. Then, I send them via text message to my wife who shares them with him first thing in morning over breakfast or in the evenings – and any time she can tell his emotions are getting the best of him. Viewing Astro’s and my adventures snaps him right out of these feelings and gives him a great, and much needed, laugh.
The best part is that I’ve also started sharing some of these photos on my social media accounts and my friends and family love keeping tabs on Astro as well! I was recently at a family BBQ where several people asked me about Astro and told me that they love seeing the pictures and get a good laugh out of what I post.
Besides traveling with a stuffed co-pilot…
The only other advice I’d give, that seems to work for me and my family, is be more present. When you’re gone it’s noticed. So, when you’re home make sure it’s noticed.
I try to help out more around the house, be the one to handle daycare drop offs and pick ups, and do more of the bed time routine. I typically ramp up prior to leaving and after my return. If my schedule will permit me to be home for a longer period of time then my wife and I tend to load-balance all of these things – work gets done and no one person is over saturated.
What about older kids?
In addition to a four year old I also have a teenager. The teenager misses me just as much as the four year old. However, my teenager isn’t as interested in pictucres of a stuffed animal doing funny things. What helps with him are phone calls, FaceTime, text messaging, and I keep an eye out for things that interest him.
For example, like most teenage boys he’s into fancy exotic cars. I was recently traveling in San Jose, CA for Network Field Day 21. As we were leaving a venue there were three cool looking cars parked out front. I was sure to snap a photo and text it to him.
Doing little things like this helps show him that he’s on my mind even while I travel.
If you travel for work I’d love to hear what works for you. Shout it out in the comments or tweet me on Twitter!
As always, thanks for stopping by!