I just gave you a Willie Nelson earworm. You’re welcome. If you’d prefer a different and more recent Willie Nelson earworm, go here: Willie and his son Lukas performing Just Breathe. (Although, they’re still on a road trip of some sort, so that makes it equally appropriate for this post.)
Tomorrow, I’m headed out on my first business trip in over a year. I changed jobs last time partly because I wanted to quit traveling for work for a bit.
I enjoy traveling in general, but traveling for work can wear out not only you, but your family. Your spouse has to be a single parent while you’re gone. Your kids have to deal with the uncertainty of your absence, and probably at least a little nervousness about your safety. You have to maintain your energy and get enough rest to work, even though you’re away from the comforts of home. For those of us who are introverted, or who rely heavily on our daily habits and systems, travel can be particularly tiring.
All these things can lead to resentment. Your family can start to resent you and/or your job. You can start resenting your employer. It’s important to avoid that resentment, because it can build up slowly and poison otherwise good work and family relationships.
I want my family and me to have a better experience with me traveling for work. But that will require that I take responsibility for improving that experience and act with a little more intention.
Here are a few things I’m doing differently.
- Spent some focused time with Chris. We went out to run an errand together, not the hectic night before I left, and had a nice dinner at the New Albanian Public House and some one on one conversation.
- Left my travel information in a kid-friendly page on our family corkboard. That way, if The Girl or The Boy asks “What time is Mom coming back?” they can see for themselves.
- Got a new laptop bag. This is really more for me. It’s depressing to carry the same black canvas laptop bag as everyone else. Also, my old bag looked like the pug ate it. So I picked up a nice brown one that is practically begging for some steampunk accessories.
I’m trying to create more positive associations for all of us. For me, business travel made me feel like I was trying to fit myself into a “corporate” mold. (See also: frequent outbreaks of rebellious purple hair). Just because I’m traveling for business, I can still be myself. For Chris, I think maintaining a sense of strong connection is key. Business travel can create a “different world” that one spouse lives in and the other doesn’t. Being intentional about having focused time together right before and after will hopefully help. For the kids, I hope that just knowing details and getting reassurance that I’m thinking about them will be good. Before, they had to rely on their dad for information. That was dumb on my part.
So what about you? Do you travel for work? For my writer friends, do you take your family to conventions and book tours? How do you handle work travel and family connectedness? Got any tips?