Parents on Business Trips
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Parents on Business Trips
I just stayed with my 18 mo old granddaughter while her mom was at a three day
conference. My granddaughter has mild cognitive delay and significant speech delay
so we were limited in talking about the separation. She was depressed the entire time
(expression changing from engaged, to solemn, to sad-faced, to tears welling in eyes,
to open crying) She seemed appreciative when I described her missing Mama but was
unable to understand that it would be several nights before her mother's return. She
was pleased to let me cuddle her--except that she had a complete meltdown at her
fun-with-mama bathtime. My marvelous son-in-law came to our rescue but my self-
confidence at being-there for my granddaughter was battered during this brief visit.
In April Grandpa and I will be staying with her (and her daddy) several weeks when
mama has a longer business trip. I am worried about how she will adjust. (I need to
mention I live in another state so cannot be ''a household fixture'' beforehand.)
Any advice on how to help my granddaughter during this time of separation?
I certainly understand your concern regarding taking care of
your grandchild while her parents are away. I was in a similar
situation with my grandson when he was 18 months old.
I made a book for him ahead of time that showed pictures of his
parents day by day during their absence. I included pictures of
him and me so he could see what we were planning to do during
our time together. (I used photos that we had taken earlier). It
included text that told the story of Daddy and Mommy's
vacation. I included the refrain, ''and they love you very
much'', on each page.
We read the book everyday, over and over again. It seemed to
reassure him to see the pictures of Mommy and Daddy and see what
they were doing.
If you think this might be of help for your granddaughter, you
have time to put one together for her before the April visit.
We also arranged for them to call every night and be part of his
getting ready for bedtime. My daughter-in-law also wrote a
letter to be opened and read each evening before he went to bed
to remind him how much they love him.
In addition, keeping him as much on his regular routine as we
could, also helped.
I hope these suggestions help. If you have any questions you'd
like to ask me further, please contact me.
My best to you. From one Grandma to another.
First, they are so lucky to have your help!
Second, take yourself off the hook. You can't prevent her pain,
really. You may not be able to fix everything or help her adjust.
Just be the loving woman you are. Be consistent and nurturing and
know that in this case, you are the best of the possible options.
It may still be hard. Try to accept that it won't be perfect, and
enjoy the good parts of the visit. Bless you for helping your
''You seem sad, but guess what? Mommies always come back!''
My mother-in-law lives in another country but the children
speak to her a couple of times a week on the webcam. When they
were younger and didnt speak well, we used manipulatives. She
had various stuffed animals that visited the camera and there's
visited her. She told them stories about the animals and read
them picture books. Consequently, they are perfectly
comfortable being left with her as soon as she arrives for a
visit even though it is only once a year. I think it might
also help that they hear us have conversations with her and it
is the norm. There are laptop webcams I think so you could set
it up to have a webvisit during bath time or right before
bedtime. Remember that kids pick up on your distress so you
have to calm your inner self too like you would with a collicky
baby. I'm sure that you are and will continue to be
appreciated for all the help that you give.
Maybe your daughter and son-in-law can talk to your
granddaughter well in advance of the trip and build up you and
grandpa. Kids don't always take change well, expecially if they
are not able to express their feelings. Your daughter and SIL
should make sure she is well aware of this visit and mom going
away for a while but she will be back and some of the things
that will happen during this visit. Your daughter and SIL know
the best way to get points across to your granddaughter so they
should be able to explain the whole thing a little better then
you might and get her better prepared. Also if at all possible,
plan a weekend trip to see her before the business trip so your
granddaughter can bond with you guys a little with mom around.
You don't want her to think the only time you come to visit is
when mom leaves, it may make the bonding more difficult if she
looks at the situation negatively.
I am a SAHM with a husband who travels a fair amount for his job.
We have a stable, happy marriage for the most part, but I am
finding his traveling to be a challenge. It's difficult for all
the standard reasons...missing him, trying to hold down the
household alone, parenting alone, etc.
The part that I am finding most difficult, however, is the late
night socializing that often goes on when he's on these trips,
and also the fact that he sometimes travels with female
coworkers. On his last trip, he traveled with a woman that he
works with, including the flight, a bit of sightseeing in the
city they went to, day-long meetings, and meals. One night he
went out to bars with this woman, alone. After that, when the
clients arrived, they went out, although as a group, most nights
after their work was done. They were in London, where he has
never been, so he said he was just so excited to see the sights
and get out and she was too, so it made sense to go together that
first night even though it was just them. This woman is married
I voiced frustration and sadness and my husband understood why it
would be hard for me, and did say he shouldn't have gone out with
her alone, but that it was absolutely harmless and they are both
happily married so there was nothing not to trust. He did say
that going out to the bars late is something that would be hard
to avoid because after long work days the co-workers go there to
unwind and eat and talk about work. I get that, but I feel like
when it goes until like 2am on several of the nights, it's
excessive. He has never given me reason to not trust him, and he's a very
devoted husband and father. He did check in with my a lot during
his travels and expressed how much he missed us.
But, it's very hard for me to be alone at home, especially at
night, while he travels...knowing he is socializing at bars and
it makes me feel very disconnected and strange. Am I overreacting? I know there is more travel in the future and
it scares me how lonely I seem to feel when he is gone.
If anyone else is or has been in this situation, I'd love to hear
your take and how you dealt with it.
Wife of a Traveler
I am the traveler in our marriage and I go to many interesting
countries with male an female coworkers. I would feel like an
infringement on my time if my husband told me not to go
sightseeing with my colleagues. I am sad that he is not with me
to share this experience with me but that feeling alone cannot
make me stay at the hotel alone. In addition to the sightseeing
we go out for dinner every night, well, rarely until 2 am, but it
is still every night, often until midnight. I think it is just
part of traveling for work, after all anyone in a new place would
like to take the opportunity to see more of it, and not just the
insides of hotels and offices. I can see your point because I
tend to be jealous too and that is what your feelings sounds to
me, but you will just have to trust your husband and make the
best of this situation. It used to be the opposite in our family
and I remember hating it when he had to leave for a week and
leave on Sunday night. Eventually I got used to it and
occasionally even looked forward to being on my own (at least,
after the kid goes to bed :-)).
I just wanted to validate your feelings and concerns. My
husband used to travel a lot for work - usually gone Sunday
night thru Thursday night every week for 6 to 12 months each
year for several years. This was before we had kids (I
insisted on a job change before the first arrived). Your
situation is even more difficult since you're parenting 24/7
solo. I felt jealous that he was traveling (something we both
love), and going out to interesting restaurants. When he was
home he wanted home-cooked meals understandably, while I wanted
to go out. From his perspective, being on the road was lonely,
and when he found some common interests with a collegue, he
welcomed the company. Maybe your husband has a high need for
social interaction - mine went out once or twice a week with
collegues, not every night. He'd have drinks with dinner, but
very rarely went to bars, and maybe only once or twice stayed
out late (never solo with a female collegue). This pattern
seemed pretty reasonable to me - he wasn't living it up, having
a great time, but he was trying to make the best of a sub-
It doesn't sound like you're too worried about infidelity, but
if his active social life on the road is weighing on you, I
suggest you initiate that converstaion: acknowledge that
traveling for work can be very lonely, and try to find a
compromise that helps you both feel more connected to one
I would feel uncomfortable in your shoes, too. Even if he has
never given you reason to worry, hopefully he respects your
feelings and wants you to feel comfortable about his traveling
and would be willing to negotiate some conditions that would
make you feel better.
I too am a SAHM with a young baby. My husband travels abroad for
weeks at a time and I find it challenging on many levels. I felt from
your email the same loneliness and insecurities that I struggle with.
My husband and I have regular couples counseling and have done since
the day we got married. I really feel that this is the best gift we
could ever give to one another and our child and it does help. We
actually look forward to going to counseling as it is a safe place to
talk about these things, we always feel closer afterwards.
Even if your husband's relationship with his colleague is totally
innocent, I think he's behaving insensitively, even inappropriately
and he is not hearing your pain. I don't know any woman who would
feel 100% okay with this situation. I urge you to find a counselor
and you WILL work this out and be happier.
All the best.
It sounds as if he is listening to you and your feelings of
discomfort and offering to change his behavior. A bit. And it
is good that you can talk to him about this -- I don't think
you're being unreasonable in expressing discomfort with the
idea of so much time and socializing with another woman while
he travels. One small point -- was it in London that he was
staying up so late in the bars? Because my experience of
Britain is that a whole lot of drinking goes on, even in
business contexts. Though I would have thought the bars would
be closed well before 2...
can't keep up with the Brits
Sigh. I've been in your position twice.
The first time, it was nothing. The second time it was
something, which turned into a brief affair that was hard to
recover from. For both situations, as soon as I felt suspicious,
I planned informal meetings for our families (picnics/playdates)
''to get to know them better'' (i.e., ''know thy enemy'').
When I met the first one, I knew all was well. When I met the
second, I knew the minute she and my husband looked at each other
that something was up.
Telling your husband that you feel insecure will only make the
matter worse, and make the potential mistress more attractive.
Take the matter into your own hands. If he doesn't want you to
meet at all, then you have your answer. If you meet her and get
that horrible pit-of-the-stomach feeling, you will have your
answer, too. Trust your gut after you have some more facts.
I hope with all my heart that your experience is like my first
one. Who knows, you might end up with a new friend.
Crossing my fingers for you
Oh, I get it honey...and even if the worst scenarios are not
being played out, it is still stressful. My husband is an
airline pilot -- lots of twenty something chicklets who would
love to land an airline Captain and really don't care that he has
a wife and kids.
How do I deal with it? Weeeeeeelllllll...99% of the time, I am
not particularly worried. We have a good marriage, etc. 1% of
the time, I am a nutcase for all of the reasons about which you
write. I do try to travel with him every now and again (with and
without the kids). I did try to move myself out of the little
woman staying at home role...I got a part-time job, started
running trail marathons, etc.
Feel free to contact me via the moderator if you want to talk
about things at length. I think that you are fine, but I also
know the stress...and, I know that it isn't something that you
can chat comfortably about with your friends...
Take a lesson from the Japanese housewives who live with this
every night as husbands are expected to socialize with co-
workers in drinking clubs after work and not participating
could/would negatively impact their success and promotion
opportunities with the firm. These guys roll in at 1:00 a.m. on
weekday nights and are off to the office at 6:00 a.m. to do it
again whether they like it or not. Such lifestyles are a double
edged sword. People that are prone to weakness often fail to
survive the temptations of these type situations. I know of
firemen and pilots who have destroyed their marraiges by
infidelity thinking they lived separate lives and dual identity
while the spouse waited at home night after night. On the other
hand these trips and the socializng in strange countries are
part of the job and your husband sounds like a decent guy who
is just being social with co-workers rather than sitting alone
in a hotel room. Such circumstances can actually help sort out
relationships. If your husband isn't trustworthy you would be
best to find that out sooner rather than later. His presence in
situations of temptation will cause him to make his choices in
life-to stand up to temptation to stray or cave in to it.
You'll know who you have soon enough. While it is tough sitting
on your end what are the options? Should he change jobs to one
with no travel? Should you insist he do so? Probably not if he
is happy with the job and it provides a good living for you.
The Japanese housewives accept the situation as a necessary
evil they must endure. It is part of the culture just as your
husband's job involves spending time with co-workers while off
duty on business trips. If he starts doing the same while at
home during the week and coming home late regularly then you
have your answer-he has caved in. As long as it is just on
occaision during business trips I would not be concerned but
you don't have to like it. Make him call in each night!
I REALLY find it hard to believe that the work colleagues have to
stay out until 2 am to discuss work. That is not work, that is
partying. I could understand an occasional night out that ran
late but regularly? no. My husband also travels frequently so I
have had the same issues that you have, including trips to Europe
with female colleagues.
I figure if they're going to cheat, there's no way to stop it.
There aren't enough ''checking in'' phone calls that could ever be
This is a fairly new phenomenon in the workplace and it even has
a name: the work spouse.
There have to be some boundaries here and I don't find it
acceptable for my husband to go sightseeing and to bars alone
with another woman. But then I look like the jealous frump
stay-at-home wife. My solution? I elbowed my way in to some
work functions and dinners and tried to act breezy, like it was
no big deal that my husband and this woman traveled together. I
had never even been to my husband's office before this.
But then she left the company and wanted to continue to see my
husband to ''network'' and ''meet for a drink'' and ''keep in touch''.
That's when I put my foot down and said no, not acceptable and
how would HE feel if I started having male friends to pal around
with and go to movies and out to dinner to ''talk''. He had never
thought of that.
After my husband's trip with his work spouse I felt really mad,
left out and neglected, so I dyed the gray out of my hair, bought
some really nice clothes, lost some weight, joined an investment
club, and started thinking about returning to work--not for
Maybe we need a support group--wives of traveling husbands with
workspouses? We could meet while our husbands are off in Europe
sightseeing with other women.
--the stay at home spouse.
This would not make me happy AT ALL. I also think you need
a night or two out every now and then while he stays home with
the kids. That can be part of your work of being a mom just like
his partying is part of his work of whatever he does.
Read ''Not Just Friends'' by Shirley Glass. It's a book about
infidelity, but it outlines how to affair proof your marriage.
Being happy isn't a guarantee against having an affair - having
sliding boundaries is. If you're not conscious of keeping your
boundaries with the opposite sex clear, you're likely to become
I would encourage you to talk to your husband about your
feelings. It will be a very difficult conversation, and you
need to find a way to do it without accusing him of anything,
but you MUST have the conversation.
The reason I say this is because I travel for my job (although
not as much as it sounds like your husband does). There was a
period of time a few years ago (before kids) where I became
very close to a co-worker of mine, as we were assigned to the
same projects on a regular basis. This co-worker (who is also
married) was very different from my husband, and led a
lifestyle that I, at the time, thought was pretty glamourous
and wonderful. My husband and I had also been friends with him
for several years. To make a long story short, I would say we
ended up having what I've seen called an ''emotional affair.''
Nothing physical ever happened, but I did have feelings for the
man, my husband figured it out, and it nearly ended my
marriage. It was incredibly embarrassing, because I had to
continue to work with the person, and travel with him, and for
a long time it was very difficult for my husband when I did
travel, even though I was careful to check in with him, get
back to my hotel at an early hour, etc. I don't think my
husband ever really got over than until I got pregnant and had
our son. I think then he sort of was consoled that my
motherhood signified my dedication to him and family.
Anyway, I am rambling. I am not saying that this same
situation will happen to you and your husband, but you must
tell him how you are feeling. It really is what is best for
you and your marriage.
I can definitely relate to your situation. I'm also a SAHM with a
husband who travels a lot (although not so much lately, which is
a blessing). He used to be gone about 25%-50% of the time and it
sucked. The height of his travel time was when our kids were 5
and 7, I think. The hardest parts for me were the boredom and
loneliness, and the exhaustion and frustration I had with my
kids. He doesn't travel on long overnight trips much anymore, but
he still does go out on an evening often to shmooze with
customers and clients. I have never really worried about any sort
of infidelity on his part. My big problem is ENVY. I feel bitter
(I still do!) that he gets to go out to fancy restaurants and
bars and travel to cool places like London (yes, he did that too)
while I get to go to Picante and Berkeley Bowl with two cranky
What I ended up doing is hiring a babysitter to come one evening
a week. I usually went to a knitting group, but sometimes I just
went shopping or to a movie or something. ANYTHING to get me out
of the house and away from my kids and absent husband. It really
helped me to have some time to myself; I even went out alone when
my husband was home! Of course it wasn't the same thing as my
husband globe-trotting, but the truth is that work travel sucks.
Hotels suck, airplane flights suck, the crappy generic
restaurants in BFE America suck (Applebee's, anyone?). Every so
often he goes to a nice restaurant and spends time with nice
people, but the majority of the time he's spending with boring or
offensive co-workers and wishing he was home with his wife and
kids. So it's not all fun and games.
Still, my advice it make the most of when he's away and when he's
home. Make sure to get time to yourself while he's gone, and go
out on dates when he's home.
Been There, Done That
Mmmm, this is a tough one but I think you are completely
justified in your feelings. If I were you I would tell him how
YOU feel (and maybe even let him read your posting?) and see how
he reacts. I think if he really understands where you're coming
from he'll start making different decisions, like not going to
the bar or at least leaving earlier.
I traveled recently (to London strangely enough) with a male
coworker. We flew together (but didn't sit together), ate all
our meals together and shared taxis to and from the office
together. I was a new employee and this was my ''teammate'' so it
was really great to get to know him better. HOWEVER, if he had
asked me to go to the bar or take time to go site seeing I would
have declined...because I'm a married woman. If there's time to
go site seeing then fly home sooner. Drinking with coworkers is
very dangerous--been there, done that in my twenties before being
married and it gets dicey quickly. SO, I think your husband
needs to use better judgment simply because he's married now but
also because he'll have your feelings in mind.
Also, you might need some more adult interaction, especially when
he's gone. Can friends come over in the evening? It's easy for
me to ''spin out'' on negative thoughts when I'm alone at night...
My husband travels internationally and to NY and LA for work, and I used
to be jealous
when he would call me from some place like Tiananmen Square and tell me
touring the city on bicycle... while I was home with the kids. Then, I
started going on
three and four day trips to LA and NY... once to Austin, with my
sometimes with my mom and sister. I stayed in nice hotels, ate out in
shopped, stayed out late and sometimes DRANK. Not only did I have fun,
but I feel like
it's more ''even'' now. Try it!
I have a daughter who is 18 months. She is still breastfeeding (3
times a day if I'm working, on demand when I am home). She has always
been a great traveler (many times around the country and once to
Japan). However, we just went on a week long trip to my parents and
she was a MESS. Couldn't sleep, got really sick, got really clingy,
etc. Now that we have been home a week, she still hasn't recovered
from the clinginess and fussiness. I have a conference in a few weeks
where I will be gone from Mon - Fri and am totally torn about whether
to bring her or not. I have arranged for a friend (who my daughter
doesn't know) to come for a few days and take care of Ana and for my
mom to come for the other few days (who Ana just got to know better
again this past trip). Ana would be with me in the evenings but be in
completely new surroundings and with new people.
Now, I am debating whether to bring her with me or not. The plane
ride would be difficult because we don't have $$ to buy her a seat.
If she has a breakdown and gets clingy I will have traveled for to a
conference that I can't really enjoy or possibly even attend (if she
gets sick again). If I leave her home, she would be in familiar
surroundings with her father and grandma (who lives with us and is her
normal caregiver), but without her mother and her beloved breastmilk.
This seems like an easy decision but the main reason I am debating is
that when my nephews parents took off for a weekend once and left him
with his grandma (who lived with them at the time), he was so shocked
and had such bad separation anxiety that he got very ill and became
incredibly clingy and afraid of strangers. It took them months and
months for them to get over that. I do NOT want to do that to my
daughter but I also don't want to torture her on a trip meant for
adults. If anyone has any experience that they could share, or
advice, I would GREATLY appreciate it as I need to decide quickly to
finalize plans for during the conference.
-Very guilty-feeling mom
You know your child best, so do what you feel is right. Here
is my experience for what it's worth -- I have found that
traveling without my child has allowed her to stay in her
familiar environment with loving caregivers who treat her like
a queen and I'm able to focus on my work away without being
absolutely exhausted and stressed out; and she doesn't have to
deal with the headaches of planes and hotels either. Throughout
her infancy and toddler-hood I took many short trips and ones
for up to two weeks away. I missed her dearly during these
times, but found that I was the one who had the harder time
being away. When I arrived home, we'd both be so happy to see
each other -- and were rested and ready to have fun together.
She breast fed until she self-weaned at 20 months. There are
many paths to be a working, traveling parent -- you just got to
find the one that works for your child. And, know that if one
way isn't working, you can always change up the plan.
Is it possible for the grandma who is her normal caregiver to fly
with you? Is she free and willing? On the plane you could trade
off holding her. Your mother could still assist. Ideally, she
could be with a familiar person and have the benefits of being
near you in the evenings. Alternatively, is it possible for you
to prioritize the most important parts of the conference and not
leave her all day or even for long stretches (to check in and see
her at lunch or to skip a boring session)?
I have a few questions from your post, the most important one
being who is at the top of your child's hierarchy? Who does your
child turn to when upset, hurt, tired? If it's you, then I would
definitely take her. Another question I have from your post is
whether your child was with you or your husband continuously
during your recent visit to your parents or whether you left her
to be babysat and went out on excursions. Looking at some of the
circumstances may help illuminate why she had a change in her
behavior. She may have had an adverse reaction to something, but
also, bear in mind that her illness may have had a lot to do with
Will she take breastmilk in a sippy cup? You could always pump
and freeze. That will solve half of your problem...
I will be leaving my 4 month old with her gradparents for 5
nights, rather than take her cross country with me for business.
It will be the first time we will be separated and just the
thought, just typing this, fills me with sadness. I am sure she
will be fine with her grandparents, and they will keep her on
her routine, but I fear that she will feel abandoned. How can I
ease this pain?
The first time I left my daughter for a business trip, I thought
I wouldn't get through it. I feared missing her too much, how she
would do without me, what if something happened to me. In fact
the first few times I traveled without her it was really, really
hard for me. But, as I'm sure others might say, it has gotten
alot easier for both of us. I also found that once I was at my
destination and settled in, that while I missed her, it was also
really nice to sleep in a hotel by myself! And, don't feel guilty
if you feel that way even a little -- we all deserve rest. I had
contemplated taking my daughter with me on these trips because of
my fears, but realized she was alot better off with a consistent
routine and care in my absence. So, it's not easy, but it will
I was in the exact same situation a number of years ago (my son
is now 4). It was helpful for me when I clarified that there
were two things one should think about. In your case: the
impact of your time away on your daughter v. the impact of your
time away on you. It sounds like you have every reason to have
confidence that your daughter's grandparents will be thoughtful,
loving caretakers (and will be respectful of her schedule,
etc). I would encourage you to let yourself relax then about
the impact of your time away on your daughter. She will be
fine, and its even a special time for her to bond with her
grandparents, which is so very valuable. So that leaves you and
how you are feeling about missing your daughter (not because you
are necessary for her happiness during those five days, but
because you simply love her and she is a big part of YOUR
happiness). I have found when I am away with work (and this is
true even today) that my feelings go in waves. I viscerally miss
my son terribly for certain parts of the day (even now), feeling
really sad -- but then other parts of the day I feel an
unexpected sense of relief/relaxation at being on my own for a
bit. I will say that there have been a few trips that I have
cut short because I just felt a central need/urge to get home
(again, because of my need to be there, not because anyone was
falling apart without me). But usually, my trips end up being
something on net I feel good about. Maybe try to reframe how
you think about this trip. Your daughter is getting this great
opportunity with her grandparents. So what will you be doing to
take advantage of the opportunity you will have (even though you
didn't really choose it) to be on your own for a few days?
Its healthy to miss your kids.
I did the same thing after I went back to work. My son was 4
months old and I had to go on an international business trip for
a week, and my son stayed with his father but was in daycare
during the day. I was really anxious about it, but as it turns
out at 4 months babies really don't have that degree of
attachment that they 'miss' you or feel abandoned.
My son never noticed I was gone, and he just smiled an burbled
when I came back like I had just been out of the room for a moment.
He's going to be fine - it's going to be harder on you than him.
I know it is hard, but it will be okay. Your baby will perfectly
fine. I had to travel about 4 times a year, sometimes for 4 or 5
nights, from the time my son was 5 months until he was 4. It was
always okay. In fact, it was waaaaay harder on me than on him. He
is twelve now and is doing just fine. I know in these early
months of parenting everything seems absolutely monumental, but
as an experienced mom, I am here to tell you that when you look
back at this, you will crack up about how freaked out you were.
It means you are a great dad and love your kid, which is
fantastic. Just keep a positive attitude about it around your
baby. They can read emotions like nobody's business. If you are
happy and confident, your child will be too.
I am scheduled to attend an academic conference in NYC at the
beginning of April. I booked the trip for 6 days, 5 nights,
and originally, I had planned to bring my one-year-old daughter
along--I have close friends in the area, some with kids, and I
thought it would fun for the baby to come with me, while I
would also be able to leave her with people I trust while I was
at the conference. Turns out my closest friends with babies had
something come up unexpectedly and will be out of town while
My parents--who watch her 3-4 days her during the week and my
husband, who has a close relationship with my daughter, say
that I should still go without baby, and that everything will
be fine. Problem is, I am having terrible separation anxiety
about going--I've never been apart from my daughter for more
than 7-8 hours and it's just killing me. She's not
breastfeeding anymore (just weaned last month), but she's
extremely attached to me and I'm the only one that seems to be
able to get her to eat, take naps, etc. on a regular basis.
She loves her grandparents, and her dad is, for the most part,
very loving, but not as attentive as I'd like him to be, i.e.
he's not into following her nap schedule, and if he's feeding
her, at the first sign that she doesn't want to eat, he just
I've thought about booking another flight that leaves a day
later and comes back a day earlier, so I'm only gone 3 nights.
Since I booked on Hotwire, by doing that, I'd be out about
$350, and that's pretty steep for a grad student trying to save
up money for a house and her kid's future.
Has anyone else been in this position? Is 6 days too long to be
apart from a 1-year-old? Is it a waste of money to change my
flight, or would it be a small price to pay for my peace of
mind? Or am I being ridiculous--having a bout of what my
husband calls ''psycho mommy''?
Any and all advice is appreciated.
I just did this. I think it was harder on me than it was on the
baby. With good relationships to her daddy and other caregivers,
she was just fine. If her nap schedule gets a little off--she'll
be OK. If daddy doesn't feed her quite as much at each
meal--she'll be a little hungry for the next one. Really.
No advice--I just wanted to say that I am in the same boat. I
would also love to go to academic conferences (theoretically),
but suffer too much separation anxiety as well. I think you
are a loving mom--not psycho. Good luck!
To be honest, it really sounds like there are a few things
going on here. First of all, the first time your separated
from your child can easily cause anxiety. But you should be
able to go somewhere without her and be able to enjoy
yourself. It doesn't mean you won't miss her. But it's
important that you be able to take time for yourself. But what
really raised my eyebrows was the way you described your
husband. I'm not saying anything's wrong with him. But it's
concerning that you aren't on the same page about sleeping and
eating habits. Of course, you won't handle things
identically. But the fact that one of the major reasons you
don't want to leave is that you don't fully trust letting her
be alone with her dad for a week. Either there are some
control issues going on and/or poor communication. I say take
the trip, let your daughter get to know her grandparents and
dad better. Enjoy yourself. When you get back, start working
with your husband about getting more aligned with things when
it comes to the raising of your daughter.
I was in a similar situation to yours when my 18-month old son
was just 11 months. I too was attending an academic conference on
the East Coast and had booked it for 5 (or was it 6?) nights in
order to ''see some of Montreal.'' Then a week or so before I
started panicking. We were still nursing, so I worried about
pumped milk, baby wondering where mommy had gone, what the hell I
had been thinking, etc. I even contemplated bringing baby with me
and using the conference's child care!
I just want to assure you that you will be fine, and your baby
will be fine. I only had my husband and day care, but esp. with
your parents' help as well, and the fact that your baby is
weaned, the baby will be fine. I found the whole thing stressful,
but I'm glad I stuck to the plan, and I think it was a great
experience in terms of confidence and trust in him, for my
husband. Everything worked out just fine. And I must admit that
while I missed the baby intensely, it was good to be able to have
a wee bit of free time, sans baby, which I hadn't had in a year
What helped me was learning that it can be even harder to be away
when the baby is talking and walking and understanding a lot
more...at one year they still don't have much of a conception of
time. Anyway, babies are much more adaptable than we
think....Feel free to email if you have additional concerns, and
good luck to you.
On the one hand, it sounds like you might be a little controlly.
On the other hand, it also sounds like your husband is kind of
disrespectful. It's one thing to not stick to her nap schedule --
that might just be different parenting styles -- but to call you
''psycho mommy?'' Yeesh. Maybe he needs this time with the baby so
that he grows some respect for the work you do. Bottom line: Take
the trip as planned -- one day isn't that big a difference -- and
see this as an opportunity for Senor Dismisso to see your POV.
My husband and I have an usual situation for our family. We will
both be required to travel for business in the same week, one of
us out of the country. As a result, we need to find care for our
8 year old son, including overnight care, meals and driving to
and from school. Our usual teen babysitters cannot make this
kind of commitment because of their own school schedules and our
own family is too far away to provide care. Any advice,
recommendations, and typical rates for this type of care would
You say your family is too far away to provide care - would it be
possible for you to pay (or use miles) to have a grandparent (or another
family member) fly out for the week to stay with your child? It would
be a great time for them to bond and might even be cheaper than hiring a
round-the-clock nanny for a week Gretchen
Try Bay Area Second Mom -- they have great nannies you can hire on a
temporary basis (one day to six months). We have had great luck with
My husband has had unexpected business traveling obligations in
the last year and will continue to have more this year. Our
daughter has just turned one. Last year, his traveling was
very hard on me even though we have part-time help twice a week
during the day and my mom has been very supportive.
Thankfully, as my daughter gets older, things have gotten
easier. But realistically, I don't see this upcoming year
being dramatically easier. My husband is very sympathetic and
wants to help as much as possible. I've tried very hard to be
logical about the situation and just deal with it. But
inevitably, I find myself getting stressed out days prior to
his leaving. Are there other stay-at-home spouses that have
partners that travel a lot who have felt the way I have? What
have you done to cope with the situation? Has anyone used
night nurses? (Our daughter still wakes up 1-5 times a night,
which is part of the problem.) Have you found this to make the
situation easier? Any other recommendations?
My husband is an airline pilot, so like you, I have to deal with
frequent absences while
raising our very young children. Yuur feelings are within the realm
of what I
experience, so as much as I am normal, you are normal. :-)
Here is what I do:
Since you only have one child, is it possible to tag along on one or
more trips per
month? Staying within the time zone is always the easiest type of
travel to do with the
Are you opposed to the cry it out method to help your child sleep
though the night? Baby
number two took nine months before she woiuld sleep through the night
which made my days
VERY LONG. I finally wne the cry it out method and life is SO much
Join a gym with child care. Take as much time as they allow you to
work out and enjoy a
shower, blow-dry, etc. When my husband is on the road, I use every
second of my two
hours of the gym daycare. I'll do cardio for an hour, take a long
shower, do my hair,
read the paper, etc. It is tough to be on call 24-hours a day without
Join a group of some type (book club -- real or the kind where people
don't bother to
read the book and just drink wine instead) and hire a babysitter or
find other types of
Mom's like you (pilots wives, military wives and wives of OB\GYNs come
to mind) who get
to spend a lot of evenings on their own. Get together for dinner once
Make sure that their is light at the end of the tunnel. My husband
and I finally
realized that living where we live our life is not going to get any
better. We put the
house up for sale and are moving to a town that we aren't nearly as
excited about, but
will allow us to be together as a family.
Feel free to write to me directly if you want any other suggestions
My husband has been gone about 2 months of each of the last two years.
We have an almost
2 year old and I'm 7 months pregnant (and he's going to be gone for a
month before he
baby comes). Some things that have helped us are:
(1) Before he leaves on a trip, he does a lot to help get us ready for
it -- stocking up
on groceries, making sure all errands are run, etc. One very key
thing he did when he
left for 6 weeks when our son was 9 months old was help him learn to
sleep better. Try
Meg Zweiback for help if needed.
(2) He and I try to go out on some date nights in the weeks before he
goes away so we can
reconnect and feel closer to each other.
(3) My son and I get into a regular routine. It seems easier on both
of us because he
knows what to expect and I don't have to fish around for things to do.
My husband or I
also buy some new toys for him.
(4) We schedule fun things to do out of the house so I don't feel so
points if this is with other people. I also invite other people over
because for some
reason that is less tiring than being there alone.
(5) He takes up the slack as soon as he gets home. I don't care how
draining his trip
was, my time at home was harder.
That said, I still often feel bitter when he goes on trips and can be
a total bitch for
the few days before he goes. I'm working on that.
My child is 15 mths old & my husband is a pilot. He is gone most weeks
for a few nights,
then every now and again for 4 to 6 nights in a row, and once or twice
a year longer - 9
nights. It is hard, period. What works for me is to get out & do
things. I have two
half days of help a week & am not working. If he is going to be gone
longer than 4
nights, I get extra help. I have some options thru my primary person,
but also may sign
up with bay area second mom as I had one time this past year when I
was very ill & my
husband could not return home. Make plans & stick to your schedule --
that helps our
child with the transitions - whether dad is home or not
bed/naps/eating etc are same
times. Also we did sleep training at 6 mths & again at 9 mths becuase
there would be
absolutley no way I could be alone this much without getting enough
sleep. Its hard, and
not that many people really get what its like to be a single parent
part time. I am
interested in reading the replies you get for any more pointers
Boy have I been there! It sounds like what you are suffering from is
and maybe also depression (it can be a cycle). Obviously getting out
and walking, doing
yoga, inviting friends over for playdates, all the usual advice helps.
But the only thing
that will really help is someone to get up at night so that you can
get your sleep. So
yes, I do think a night nurse is a good idea. It just so happens that
I know someone
wonderful who is looking live with a family for just this purpose.
Much cheaper than a
professional ''night nurse'' which I heard from friends is pretty
she is studying to be a real nurse so just as good I would think) IF
you have the space
in your house for a live-in. Good luck whatever you decide to do and
feel free to call me
if you decide to go this route. Best, Linda (415) 515-6736
It sounds to me like your daughter's frequent waking is a BIG part of
the problem. I'm a
SAHM with a spouse who travels (not a ton, but enough to know how
tough it can be) and I
know that it's essential to have some time to myself in the evening,
as well as a decent
night's sleep, in order to get ready for the day ahead.
If I were you I would talk to your daughter's pediatrician to rule out
medical reason for her wakefulness. If she is healthy, she is probably
just waking out of
habit. I would then figure out a sleep-training program to help her
learn to self-soothe
and get herself back to sleep without nursing. At the age of one, she
should be able to
sleep through the night, or at least almost-through-the-night--a good
long stretch of
9-10 hrs. before an early morning feeding. There are so many methods
for sleep training
and they have been exhaustively discussed on BPN. There are lots of
schools of thought
about nighttime parenting and I really don't believe one is better
than the other, but I
will say as a SAHM that sleep-training our son allowed me to become a
happier, more enthusiastic mother. And it's way more cost-efficient
than a night nurse.
I would also suggest trying to stay very busy and build a lot of
structure into your day,
and get to places where there are other moms. Your daughter is old
enough to hit the
playground even if she isn't walking yet. When my husband is gone I
like to mentally map
out a schedule for the day--it just feels better than a long day of
hanging around the
I also get satisfaction out of little things like treating myself to a
trashy magazine to
read after my son goes to bed, and I have a tradition of getting a
type of takeout
cuisine that my husband doesn't like.
I also find it helpful to lower my standards a little bit: I will
stick my kid in front
of a video for 20 minutes so I can get something done, or send him to
bed with a
slightly-less-than-balanced meal in his tummy. I'm pretty diligent
most of the time so I
figure a little slacking isn't going to kill him
Hi struggling SAHM,
My husband also travels a lot for work and I have a 1 1/2 year
old and a 3 year old. Most recently he was gone for three weeks
while I prepared our house to be put on the market. Honestly, it
gets much easier as they get older and in my experience taking
care of two kids has been easier than just one because they play
together while I can get some things done. Here are some of the
things I do that make it actually fun while my husband is working...
Go to the gym (most have childcare), have help around dinner time
(be it a friend, sitter or your mom), plan activities for every
day, get outside with your child to the markets, parks or
museums, get a few hours to yourself for some pampering, get help
for cleaning the house or just let that go, have menus from
nearby restaurants around the house for when you don't feel like
cooking, and when your husband gets back from his travels plan a
date night or two.
I know it must be harder when you are sleep deprived, so I would
definitely look into a night nurse or perhaps your mom could help
out for a night or more. I know I need more sleep when I'm doing
it all by myself, so sometimes I go to bed at 8:00 with the kids
and sleep for 11 hours and cuddle up with them during naptime too
It does get much easier!
My husband travels a lot for work, as well. I was used to it
before our baby was born, but then of course it became much
harder for me after. At first, my mom would try to stay over on
the nights he was gone, just to help out with cooking me food
and washing dishes and stuff. That was easy for her to do,
since my parents live only 35 minutes away. Now, I just do it
on my own, but it is still much easier when there are two sets
of hands and pairs of eyes. I encourage you to get out of the
house for at least a little bit every day. The fresh air will
do both of you good, and so will the change of scenery. I try
not to run many errands when I'm on my own, because it's a pain
when I've got the stroller and am trying to grocery shop, etc.
Try to save the errands for when you are both around. I don't
know if you're in a mom's group, but having activities to do
with other people and where my baby can ''socialize'' with
other babies has made a world of difference for me. If you have
such events to look forward to, it just makes the days go by
faster and with more enjoyment. Even if you don't join a group,
you can go places where other moms and babies hang out, like a
park or Barnes & Noble's children's section, or PriPri Cafe,
Play Cafe, Habitot, etc. We got a membership to the Oakland
Zoo, so that is always an option for us if we run out of things
to do. In terms of getting help, maybe you can hire a
housekeeper for 2x per month? That's what we do, so I don't
worry about the big cleaning jobs (floors, linens, bathroom,
kitchen). I just worry about the dishes and laundry, and wiping
up messes as they come along. Believe me--that's plenty of
housework when you are all alone with a baby. It's difficult to
get even that much done on a regular basis. The housekeeper has
saved my sanity.
For food, life around here has been made much easier with some
premade meals, like Trader Joes, etc. It helps, because when my
baby was much younger, I was very bad about getting myself
properly fed each day when I was alone. It was just hard! I
can't remember how old your baby is, but now that mine is 11
months, it is much easier to feed myself, but I still rely on
prepared foods when possible. For me, the fewer steps there
are, the more attention I can pay to my baby, and that has to
be my priority right now. I can't think of any more tips, but
please feel free to write me if you have any questions.
Good luck! chang
I have two little ones and my husband travels quite a bit for
work, usually 2-3 days, 3-4 weeks of the month. It a rough way
of life, I can definitely sympathize with you! You asked about
hiring a night nurse because of your daughter's waking, but if
you're the one nursing her, I'm not sure how much help it would
be to have another adult on hand. My husband isn't much help
with the night nursing when he's here! I do think you could use
some extra help, though, and you shouldn't hesitate to hire
someone to give you some time to yourself. Maybe someone could
come in mornings to allow you to get a little extra sleep after
your daughter wakes up? Unless you realy want to, you don't
have to night nurse forever, either. I only night nursed the
first 8 months, even though I nursed my son for 2 full years.
The other thing I do is plan a lot of playdates and activities
that get us out of the house all day when my husband is
travelling. There's nothing worse than being burned out from
being at home and then facing a long evening of getting kids to
bed all alone. It's also essential that I get in some face time
with other adults, even if it's just watching kids together,
when I'm home alone. I've always thought it would be a good
idea to get together a collective of SAHMs with spouses who
travel to share dinners and swap babysitting!
Part-time single mom
Yikes! I'm a stay-at-home mom ''commuter widow'' too & I hear ya,
sister. We're in the home stretch because my daughter's four now
& in preschool. But I vividly remember how exhausted & isolated I
felt during her infant & toddler years. Things WILL get easier &
also lots more fun for you, I promise.
1. Your daughter will start sleeping long enough for you to get
some decent shut-eye, because this is the time when utter
exhaustion requires moms to desperately seek help! Talk with your
pediatrician & other parents, or browse the parenting Web sites.
There are lots of strategies & one of them -- or a combination --
will work for the two of you. After all, she needs sleep, too.
You'll both be happier.
2. Your one-year-old is on the brink of becoming more social &
you're both ready for the ''mommy social circuit''. You'll start
enjoying lots of places that are fun for both you & your child
while meeting other parents with young children who can become
friends. These friends will be important throughout your child's
early years & possibly beyond. Particularly if they live near
your immediate neighborhood. For stuff to do with kids, see
http://parents.berkeley.edu/recommend/places/ on this site.
3. You'll figure out what sort of help you need the most & will
figure out how to get it. Consider the following: Short, informal
babysitter swaps with neighborhood parents so you have 20-40
minutes here & there to run quick errands or take a walk;
Ordering groceries online & having them delivered; Hiring a
neighborhood kid for a few dollars per hour each afternoon to
play with the baby while you make dinner, fold laundry or take a
bubble bath; Having someone clean the house each week or every
other week; Engaging a personal organizer/assistant to handle
your paperwork & balance your check book each month, etc.
The most important thing is for you to find a way to enjoy the
limited family time that you have with your husband when he gets
home without having too much housework & big household projects
on your plate. Good luck
-- Still trying to figure this stuff out.
Hi Fellow Parents,
I am a first time mother of a 9 month old and am now hitting
the job market. I have found that the jobs in my field require
travel and find this a little unsettling. Still, I have worked
very hard to get to this point. Do other working moms have
tips about travel? How long is too long? Do you find that
your child becomes anxious or insecurely attached? (I was a
psych undergrad and have a MA in human development so am very
worried about attachment issues.)
Any tips and/or advice would be greatly appreciated!
Thanks in advance,
I don't travel that much, but I do travel some (once every couple
of months) and began when my daughter was about 10 months. The
longest I've been away is 4 days. I think it's harder for me in
many ways than for her--the first night I kind of enjoy the
freedom but after a few days I pine for her.
I think a few things make it easier for her:
1) My husband is as deeply involved with her as I am. So there's
stability there.What's more, rather than thinking of this as
harmful to her attachment to you, why not think of it as
promoting stronger attachment to him? It's a great time for Dads
and kids to bond without the dominant presence of Mom.It's
wonderful for their relationship.
2) When I go, her routine remains the same. Routine gives kids a
sense of stability.
3) Even before she could understand it, we talked about Mommy
going on the airplane and how I'd come back because Mommies
always come back. I always said goodbye and she watched me leave
(in a taxi or bayporter if I took one, or in my car). I didn't
just disappear on her which is upsetting for a chld. When she was
older, we'd read the book ''Owl Babies'' which is about a Mama Owl
who goes away but always comes back.
4) Despite all this, I didn't make a huge deal about it. Act like
it's normal. Also be sure to celebrate coming back together
again--say you've come back and you missed him/her etc.
5) When she was very young, she sometimes snubbed me for a short
time--a few hours, or even an evening. It's understandable. It's
an emotional thing.
And no, it has not affected her attachmentto me, her little
psyche or anything. My daughter is 2+ now and is happy and loving
and secure. SHe knows that sometimes Mommy or Daddy goes on the
airplane but we always come back. Sometimes she pretends to be
one of us getting ready to go on the airplane and says goodbye
and then says, ''I came back!'' When one of us leaves, we draw a
picture of the airplane on the calendar to mark the departure day
along with a picture of her and whomever stays behind waving at
the plane. Then we draw another picture of the plane coming back
on the day of the return. In between, we X off the days before
going to sleep at night. And we say goodnight to the absent
parent wherever that person is (''Goodnight Mama in New York!'')
So, it's all about creating ritual that keeps a sense of routine,
order, control for her.
And, again, please don't underestimate the value of time with Dad!
Mom on the Fly
I felt very much the way you do, so I followed my instincts and
just brought my son along on every business trip! It sounds a
bit crazy, and maybe in retrospect it was, but at the time it
felt like the best thing to do. How did I do it? It was
expensive, but a couple times my husband came along to watch
our son, another time I flew my mother to North Carolina to
meet us and she watched him, a few other times I brought along
a babysitter. This, obviously, wouldn't work if you need to
travel monthly---I only had to take about four trips a year.
All I can say is, if there is a will, there's a way. I just
couldn't imagine leaving him, so I made it work.
So I say, trust your instincts----9 months is still very
young. My son is now three and I think I could travel if I had
to (I've switched jobs so it is no longer an issue). So one
way to think of it is travel will be difficult for another 2
years or so, then it will be easier. Either try to take a job
that doesn't have much travel, or plan on bringing him
Jessica, I have had to travel for work since my first child was
3 months old and despite my fears, it has worked out. My first
question would be, what kind of system do you have set up at
home? Does the child have another parent who can really step up
to fill in for you while you are gone? Do you have back up such
as a neighbor or relative who will be able to pitch in a bit
while you are gone? If the answer to one or both of these is
''no'' it may be hard for you to be away--both on you and the
family at home. In my case, my husband is such a super dad that
the kids barely notice my absence and he has work flexibility to
be around more. We have really made it work (we have no
choice!). I have friends who travel and the dad is either inept
or working all the time and it is really hard for all. In my
experience, after three days I am in acute pain being away and my
kids start to show signs of missing me. But every family is
different. Week trips are super hard and I try to avoid them at
all costs. More than a week is truly anguish. On the plus
side, my business trips are the time I have to myself to see
movies, take baths, read, etc. Two day trips are like a
vacation! Good luck.
Hi - I went back to work after my first child was 5 months old
and took my first trip almost immediately. I had pumped enough
milk to last while I was gone and took a pump with me to 'pump
and dump' to keep the supply up. It was much harder on me than
it was on my son from my husband's reports. Apparently he didn't
even notice that I was gone. 2 years later I had twins, went
back to work after 4 months and took my first trip for a week
when they were about 10 months old. They were fine too. I had a
nanny who was with them for 12 hours a day anyway so they didn't
seem to notice. My trips were much harder on them when they were
between the ages of 2 and 4 because they were more aware that I
was missing. The teachers at the preschool always could tell
when one of us was traveling because our kids were more needy.
Now my son is 7 and the twins are 5. I still travel and it's now
gotten a bit easier than a couple of years ago. They know now
that we travel and we always come back. I can also talk to them
on the phone now when I'm away which helps. Despite all the
travel, the nannies, the day care and all the other childcare
support that we've used over the years, my kids know who mom is
and are very very bonded to me. There is no substitute for mommy
their minds. So I now understand that all that guilt I felt
about leaving them all those times and the worry that they
wouldn't bond with me or love me as much as someone who was
there with them when I wasn't was all for nothing.
Please do not worry (well, try your best not to worry) about
leaving your baby for business trips. My first trip after my
baby was 3 months old was one week in Spain (Grandparents And
Nanny on duty because of 1st trip concern), and 3 years and a
zillion business trips later, my son is totally well adjusted in
that he KNOWS I am coming back - be it from a trip or a day at
pre-school or time with a friend on a playdate. The trips
started the moment I went back to work, when he was so little,
but maybe that helped him as he grew older to combat ''separation
anxiety'' - he had (and has) much less of it than other kids I
know his age. Whenever possible I try to keep my trips to 3
days/2 nights, but sometimes that is not possible and it's
longer. It is ''what it is'' so if you have a great job
opportunity, go for it. With all the frequent flier miles, you
can have a great family vacation when you choose. It's the time
together that counts, and time away is not so bad.
Think ''Heavenly Bed.'' And don't worry, your child will know you
love them and are there for them - because you will be.
Good luck, and do not feel guilty!
Here's what I did when I need to travel and my son was young. I took him along on the first trip (with his Dad as Nanny) when my son was 4 months old. Since this was a luxury we could not really afford, Dad and son stayed home and I traveled with a breast pump until I had weaned my son. I pumped to keep supply up and did not try to store the milk/bring it home. I still travel about once every 6 - 8 weeks for 4
- 7 days at a time, and it does not seem to have affected my bond with my son at all. He is deep in the throws of the typical 18 month old mommy fetish, just like all the books say to expect.
I believe that if it's a job that you like and will make you happy, that will be best for everyone in the end.
Helping Kids Cope with an Absent Parent
My experience with my child and business travel was as
Yr 1 and under - forgot about missing parent within 1 hour
Yr 2 and under - forgot about missing parent within 1 day
Yr 3 and older - missing parent is sorely missed and "punished"
upon their return for "leaving me" for whatever amount of time.
As your son is a 1 yr old, my advice is more for YOU. As you will
have all of the responsibility for 3 weeks, make your life as easy as
you can. Have take-out pizza, burritos, chinese food, etc, in order
to decrease the burdens of shopping, cooking, and cleaning up. Have a
friend come over (or family member) to help you do the laundry, as
this is hard with a one yr old around. And don't worry about the
other housework, you will have plenty of time (and help from your
spouse) after their return!
Also, get lots of fresh air time (whenever possible) to encourage
a good night's sleep for BOTH of you. Good luck!
On an absent parent: a couple of small suggestions: keep a picture of
the dad around and prominently displayed. Talk about him to keep the
memory going. Also, try to plan some special things to do with your
child, especially to fill in the gaps that his father would normally
have filled. On being a single parent: just make sure you have your
priorities straight, i.e., playing with the kid is more important than
a clean house.
We now have more than three years of experience dealing with my
husband being gone periodically on business trips and me being
the sole parent in his absence. It was easier when my daughter
was a baby, but now that she's a very active preschooler, it's much
more demanding. A one-year-old probably won't stress too much if
kept occupied with interesting and fun activities. I strongly
advise arranging with friends and/or relatives for some child care,
so that you can get some breaks. Otherwise, you can get very worn
out, and you may even find it hard to get ordinary chores done.
Re: Stacy and her husband's business trip away from one-yr. old son: I took
my then-one-yr. old son to visit my mom in Fla. for 17 days. Even though I
had him talk on the phone to his father, when we returned, he was very, very
angry at his father and would push him away and take swipes at his face. In
other words, he blamed his father for the absence. Ever since then and up til
now, if he doesn't get to spend time with his father in the morning and
evening he sometimes rejects his father, but at the same time, he is always,
alwasy asking for him, saying Daddy and runs to the door when he hears the
sound of his car.
My husband has traveled several times a year since my daughter was only
a couple months old. She tends to have a very even and mellow
temperament so I haven't noticed an extreme reaction. When she
was a year or less she was, however, more clingy and had a more
uneven sleep pattern. She started waking up earlier and earlier
in the morning. Now that she is verbal she can express her concerns
"Daddy work?" or "where Daddy?" so I donUt have to guess about
Things that we do to help:
1. Daddy calls as often as possible.
2. Before he leaves, Daddy talks about something they'll do together
or something she can take care of for him while he's gone. Mom
will follow up by talking about the activity or helping and
reminding about the caretaking (like feeding the cat).
3. Go to dinner at friends' homes so I don't have to deal with dinner
and my daughter can be with other people/family and be distracted.
I am not an ambitious cook during these times at all.
4. Get a babysitter to come in a few times or a mother's helper to
shop or help with errands. It's important to give yourself a night
or a Saturday off each week because it's a very intense shift of responsibility
5. Acknowledge to your child that she might be missing Daddy even if
your child is not yet verbal. Try a time when you think she might be
agitated because of Daddy's absence. She may not even really know
why she is agitated if she's really young but I am pretty sure she'll
be soothed by your saying something like "You know, you got up really
early this morning. I wonder if you are missing Daddy. I know I
miss Daddy and can't wait for him to come back. We'll have fun
when he comes back."
6. If your child is a bit older you can try to give her some kind of
idea of when he's coming back. When there's only a few days left to
his absence I start saying "Daddy will be back in three days -
that's when you go to sleep, wake up, go to sleep, wake up...etc".
I have no idea whether she really gets it but somehow it puts
parameters on the absence and limits the time.
These are things I do. I'd love to hear what other parents do.
When my husband had to be away for a week when our sons were 3 and 1, he did
a 20 minute tape recording, telling favorite bedtime stories. Then the boys
got to listen to the tape every night in bed (and any other time they asked
for it). That seemed to help a lot. My husband also called every night which
let the boys each say hi. The 1 year old listened (we used a speaker phone)
for a few seconds and wandered away but every day he would go to the tape
recorder and ask for daddy.
We have also created a favorite story time character (Andre the mouse) who
always goes through possibly traumatic adventures before the boys do (e.g.
trips, first day at pre-school, visitors, etc.). About a week before my
husband's trip, Andre's daddy had to go away for a week. We talked about it
a lot so it was not a surprise when it happened.
Single Parenting and Business Trips
I am the single parent of the 3.5 y/o and although I actually have not come
up against this yet, I know that someday (in the next 2-5 years) I will
have to travel for business/research purposes..for a few days and either
not be able to bring my daughter with me or have to bring someone along as
a caregiver (we're talking remote places). I definitely will forstall this
as long as possible, but the situation presents some problems. Her father
lives in Alaska and her paternal grandparents live near Redding. On the
other hand, my parents (who live near San Jose) both work 50 hours per
week. My roommate, who would be happy to help out, starts work at 5 am, so
obviously cannot take her to preschool in the morning. How have other
single parents handled this? I know there are lots of options but I don't
know which would be best. The way I see it is she could go to her regular
preschool and be watched by one of her regular teachers in the evening (I
imagine) or go with my parents and I could find some kind of quality
childcare program which will take her for a couple of days while my mom is
at work. Also, she could stay at home with my roommate and then be
transfered (at 4 am while sleeping) to house of one of my friendly single
parent neighbors who could take her to school in the morning. I know she
will miss me, and I will miss her, but I want this to be as untraumatic as
possible. She has stayed at my parents overnight only once. She was okay
except that they really couldn't get her to go to sleep. (until 2 am!) Any
suggestions? What has worked for you folks in the past?
I have to travel in my job about 6 - 8 times/year or so, since my son was 9
months old; he's 3 1/2 now. I have used many different kinds of
arrangements. Luckily my mom, who lives in So. Cal. comes up when I have to
be gone for 3 nights. She's 77 and I know can't count on this forever. For
shorter trips, 1 - 2 nights, I have a baby sitter who can do it at our
house. This is expensive, but sometimes I just have to do it- 100/night.
this involves getting my son from day care and taking care of him until
dropping him off the next morning. When my son was a baby I used some
friends who could do this for a night. Sometimes I can take my son with me,
as I'm planning to do this fall for a conference in Boston- which has
childcare arrangements and where I have cousins. I took him and my mom to
Vancouver last Feb.
I find that my main goal right now is to keep my son's routine as stable
as possible, have friends stop by that he's close to, stuff like that. I
hear that this will get easier as they get older and start doing overnights
at friend's houses. Hope something here helps.
I work full time; I'm a single, professional (research), custodial
mother of a 3-year-old. I have 2 to 4 out-of-town meetings to attend a
year, for anywhere from one to 6 days each. I've found that the
situation is difficult-- finding childcare, someone to take care of my
child while I am gone. I've already tried bringing him with me to short
meetings (which I love to do!), but it's hard (with a child) to pay
attention fully to the meeting throughout its duration).
My child attends a childcare school 9 hours a day, Monday through
Friday. I would need someone to stay at our home (or possibly take him
into their home), and do all the parent things: wake him up, feed him
breakfast, make him lunch, take him to school, be available if he gets
sick (fortunately, this is rare), pick him up, feed him dinner, read him
a story, tuck him into bed, and provide love and a fun and caring
environment for him. My child's father isn't available to take care of
our child while I'm gone. I don't have any family nearby. We moved a
year ago, and I anticipate another move or two
in the next 5 years, so I don't know a lot of people, and by the time I
will have formed a network, we'll move again. Neighbors are not really
an option, most are young and single (and have nightlives or
jobs/careers that require them to be available 10 or 12 hours a day).
I've joined a single parents group, but it does not (apparently) have
parents like me whose one big concern is what to do
when you need to go out of town for a professional meeting for a few
days. I've talked around at my child's school, and I have not yet (!)
found another single professional custodial parent. Are there any other
single mothers (or fathers) out there that, like me, have out-of-town
meetings to attend a few times a year; if so, what do you do when you
need to be out of town for a few days? I'd be grateful for any
perhaps asking any of the parents (or teachers, or assistant teachers)
at your child's preschool would be an option, and offer to pay them or
perhaps reciprocate for other parents. that way your child would know
the person fairly well (and would have a well-known playmate if he
stayed with another preschool family). the assistants at my child's
preschool are college students and some of them do babysitting on off
hours - if I had a similar situation, I would probably ask one of them
if they could "house-sit and child-sit" for me, and pay them.
Also, if you take him on short business trips, sometimes hotels have
child-care available that you could take advantage of during your actual
A suggestion: think about changing your housing situation. Look for
other single parents or a family to share housing with -- with the
understanding that you will take these trips and that at other times you
would be available to care for other children. We did this -- my
husband, myself and our three kids lived with two single mothers -- one
with one kid and one with two kids. It worked for the most part. I
think it is easiest on the kids -- they stay in their house, in their
rooms, with folks they have already been living with. One has to be
willing to make changes and accept that alternate housing might be a
good idea. You can find web sites for both co-housing and alternative
housing that will help you find people and houses and communities. Good
I'm also a single mom, and the only parent of my kids. In truth,
I haven't taken as many business trips since becoming a mom as I
used to, but they're not unheard of. It's very hard to find young,
non-parent sitters to do what moms do -- I've actually had a few
tell me flat out that what I do *outside* of my job is too much work
for one person.
What's worked the best for me is exchanges with other families. The
easiest way is to try to arrange this with a family of a child your
son knows from daycare, as you've been trying to do. Make sure you
don't limit your search to single professionals who take business
trips -- I've done successful exchanges with couples and with people
who just need a vacation.
You might try posting a notice at one of the schools where English as a
Second Language is taught. Berkeley Adult School is one place. Many of
these students are here for a fairly long term and tend to be older
students with a strong desire for family life because they are so far
from home. We have such a live-in student in our household, and in our
case, she's a mother who had to leave her son behind in China. She's
very responsible and has a mother's instinct about what to do under a
variety of circumstances. Surely there must be other students who are
in similar circumstances.
Taking baby on a Business Trip
Since 3 months seems pretty early to have a long separation between mom and
baby, I'd recommend doing whatever you can to bring the baby. Is there a
friend or relative who can accompany you on the trip? Maybe your office
will help pay their airfare? If not, ask the conference organizers to do
everything they can to find someone there to be with your baby when you
can't. They can talk to the hotel folks-- there's got to be someone who can
do it. Good luck!
We had luck through a chanber of commerce. A day care operator was
reffered, who could also refer independant sitters. You can then
interview by phone, get, refs etc.
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