The Bliss of Business Travel

Usually, I complain about business travel. The guilt of saying good-bye to my four-year-old, the Excel spreadsheet required to manage my older children's activities while I'm away, my husband's 7 a.m. phone call to my hotel room asking whether it is okay to send a child to school with a 102 degree temperature. But the New York Times ran a cover story this week cataloguing the bliss of business travel, Working Mothers Find Some Peace on the Road. Even though I've been in eight cities in the past 28 days (everyone whose e-mails and phone calls I've not returned, please note my excuse), I agree wholeheartedly: it is nice to get away from it all, as long as it's just for a night or two at a stretch.

Although men travel more for business than women, the percentage of women business travelers increased from 39 percent in 2000 to 43 percent in 2004, and the travel industry is catching on. The Times described a plethora of working mom travel amenities such as manicure and massage happy hours in select hotels. As for me, the biggest treats are free and priceless: a good night's sleep -- and the chidren's cries of delight when I come home.

What about you? Do you loathe or love getting away? What are your tricks, tips and horror stories when it comes to traveling for work?

By Leslie Morgan Steiner |  November 3, 2006; 7:00 AM ET  | Category:  Free-for-All
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'my husband's 7 a.m. phone call to my hotel room asking whether it is okay to send a child to school with a 102 degree temperature'

this is pitiful, for more than one reason!

Posted by: Anonymous | November 3, 2006 7:34 AM

I love getting away. And I can't say I every had any guilt about it either. I believe my husband can take care of things just fine. He never called asking me what to do. He just takes care of it...just like I do when he travels. Guilt just isn't part of the equation at all and, in some ways, I resent people talking about guilt as if it is something one should feel if one is a decent mom. Well, this decent mom suggests those with guilt do some confidence-building exercises, and get over their self-imposes guilt-trips...always leave home without it!

Posted by: dotted | November 3, 2006 7:35 AM

I don't travel anymore but a couple years ago I was traveling 2-3 times a year and I LOVED IT. It was like a mini-vacation for me. Getting ready in the morning without kids - meals without kids - adult conversations, meetings and cocktail parties - it was invigorating. My business travel was not high pressure - low key industry business meetings.

Of course I know it would be much different if I traveled all the time, I'm sure I would get tired of it and the guilt would kick in. Plus I would never see my husband.

Posted by: cmac | November 3, 2006 7:42 AM

Business travel always makes me feel guilty because my wife has to do twice as much. I can't enjoy the "vacation" because there is no one to share the joy with. I feel I am shirking my duties at home and my responsibility to my children. My wife is more stressed. How can I enjoy myself?
I don't travel anymore, and I've taken a different (ie stagnant) career path because of it. Maybe when the kids are older, I will reevaluate.....

Posted by: Mr.Honda | November 3, 2006 8:35 AM

Yestrday was so much fun. This morning I am trying really hard to find a way that we can agrue about imbalances of the US Tax Code, imbalances of our nation's political priorities, imbalances of our nation's finances and imblances of our individual psychological constitution that bleeds into devastating imbalance in our homes fomenting the degredation towards moral bankruptcy in our society, by commenting on the "escape from the pressures of home by going on a business trip topic."

This escapist topic sounds like it would confirm the logic of "You do nothing around here because you get to go to work everyday." - DW

I know exactly what to do if my kid has a fever FWIW. Wash my hands lots of times, and go to work. Seriously, I would keep the invalid home, liquids, fever reducer, watch Tivo sports all day. If fever isnt reduced by meds, call doc. Of course I would check with DW by phone if she's out of town just so I dont tread out of my jurisdiction without appropriate security clearance. I would guess that was the point the call to Leslie... we guys recognize the chain of command.

Posted by: Fo3 | November 3, 2006 8:40 AM

I love it and loathe it. I loathe the guilt and the tears at the morning goodbye. But I love going to bed early for a long night's sleep and stealing moments of writing that I can't do at home in the mornings or evenings. I especially love knowing that the time my husband and daughter are spending together by themselves is important for them.

Posted by: Queen of Rationalization | November 3, 2006 8:41 AM

Not a parent but the best part of trips to NY on Amtrak is the quiet car. I highly recommend it. No loud talking, cell phones must be on vibrate - now that's bliss. (it's easy to step out of the car to make/take calls.

Posted by: Product of a Working Mother | November 3, 2006 8:44 AM

I'm really confused...why should there be tears from your kids when you leave unless you are making them cry? Your littlies probably can't understand the length of time you may be gone. All they can really understand Immediacy is the first name of babies, toddlers and almost up until school age (instant gratification anyone?). They aren't crying because mommy is traveling. They may be crying because you are crying. Why are you crying? Completely self-imposed guilt trip in more than one sense of the phrase. One could wonder why anyone would torment kids by making them cry? I'm feeling more tough than usual today. Something about hearing whinging about nothing...

Posted by: dotted | November 3, 2006 8:55 AM

Does your husband feel guilt when he travels? What's up with this guilt thing anyway?

Posted by: Leslie | November 3, 2006 8:57 AM

Leslie of 8:57
I know my husband doesn't feel guilt at all either. Guilt is coming up because of the use of the word 'guilt' in sentence 2 of Leslie's beginning blog entry. I'm not sure if you're the Leslie.

Posted by: dotted | November 3, 2006 9:02 AM

"I'm really confused...why should there be tears from your kids when you leave unless you are making them cry? Your littlies probably can't understand the length of time you may be gone."

Last night, wife and I went out for the evening. Younger child (18 months old) cried when my wife went upstairs to change. 30 seconds later, he was happily playing PlayDo with the babysiter. Wife came down, kissed the kids, and we started to leave. Son came crying after her. Another hug and we were gone. Babysitter reported he quieted down in about 30 seconds. It's the nature of kids. They cry when they don't get what they want.

Posted by: Father of 2 | November 3, 2006 9:02 AM

My first business trip after my two were born was to Paris for 9 days, straddling a weekend with no activities. My children were 19 months and 3 and a half. The trip was not stressful, and I had a wonderful time. I hadn't been to Paris for decades, so it was like discovery the city all over again! The interesting thing is that after a few days, I really starting missing all the mayhem at home. It was too quiet!

My husband had arranged a calling card for me to use that would give me amazing rates (12 cents/min). I called often and enjoyed being able to keep in touch. When I got back and got the bill, the phone company had screwed up and the bill was over $800!!! We finally got the bill down to the appropriate amount, but that kind of took the edge off how relaxed I felt.

Posted by: SLP | November 3, 2006 9:04 AM

I took my first post-baby business trip when my daughter was about 6 months old. I dreaded it for weeks, felt horrendously guilty, was sobbing on the way to the airport.

Then I got on the plane and realized I had Nothing To Do. No baby to feed, no diapers to change, no worry about keeping her quiet and happy while strapped in a carseat for 2 hrs. No demands at all. Just two uninterrupted hours of me time -- with two uninterrupted nights' sleep waiting for me on the other end. Never has simply reading a magazine and having someone else serve me drinks felt like such a luxury.

I still don't like to travel much -- it's harder now that she's older and can vocalize how much she misses me, plus we now have a baby boy (who just turned one yesterday -- dang that was fast!). So I've tried to develop rituals with my daughter for extra mommy time when I do go out of town (i.e., breakfast at Bob Evans the morning I leave). Plus now when I travel, I usually have work to do on the plane and in the hotel -- I feel compelled to get as much done as possible while I'm away.

But I still do enjoy the uninterrupted nights, the occasional book or magazine, and the mental break -- it's nice to put aside your own responsibilities and have other people taking care of you for a change. But the biggest treat of all is being able to run the clicker myself and skipping right on past the Cartoon Network and Nickelodeon.

Posted by: Laura | November 3, 2006 9:05 AM

I do enjoy my business trips and I don't feel guilty about it. My husband doesn't travel but has a few late nights every month so we take turns being one-on-one with the kids. I've also been fortunate enough to be able to not only bring my daughter to one trip but we planned a family vacation around another business trip so my flight and three nights at a Westin Resort in Phoenix were paid by my company.

And I have to brag about my husband - I had an 9 day business trip to Hawaii and as I was landing in Honolulu, my husband was at the doctor's with our 10 month old son who had RSV. My husband knew I'd want to fly home immediately so he tackled the nebulizer and illness on his own and never told me until I got home to see my son was fully recovered. I was furious because I would have liked to support him but he handled it beautifully. Just like I would have if he was out of town.

Posted by: Alexandria Mom | November 3, 2006 9:07 AM

Father of 2 at 9:02:
She said she couldn't handle the guilt of good bye tears so I believe she didn't understand your point (that they quickly stop)...which is also my point (that they can't understand anything beyond immediacy so there shouldn't be any guilt...and there isn't anything really to handle). I think we are agreeing.

Posted by: dotted | November 3, 2006 9:07 AM

I love getting away. I'm fortunate to be able to do so 2 nights a month, and I make the most of it! (I highly recommend doing so to all working moms who travel for business.) I go to restaurants where I can't or wouldn't take the kids -- no "family-friendly" chains, thank you very much -- and I have a leisurely meal with co-workers or, if by myself, a good book. If I'm really exhausted, I'll order room service with a glass of wine, take a long soak in the tub before bed, and enjoy a lovely, hopefully uninterrupted night of sleep. Bliss.

We moms have got to remember that taking time away -- whether it's a business trip, a movie with other mom friends, or just a walk around the block -- benefits not just ourselves, but our families. We return recharged or at least refreshed. It is essential to maintaining well being.

Posted by: WorkingMomX | November 3, 2006 9:10 AM

Leslie, haven't you heard that guilt is the seasoning of Motherhood?

Posted by: Father of 4 | November 3, 2006 9:11 AM

Guilty Rich,
Guilty Catholics,
Guilty Pleasures,
Guilty Guilty Guilty!

Posted by: Fo3 | November 3, 2006 9:19 AM

Dotted, yes we are agreeing.

Posted by: Father of 2 | November 3, 2006 9:20 AM

I miss my little man and wife when I'm away. And I know that the chores are piling up for me when I get back. I always have a list of things I need to get done before I leave so that they won't be out of hand when I return.

My trips this year have been for two weeks at a time and I made sure to get an international calling card that gives me good rates for the phone calls home. I try to call every day, just so I can hear what my son is excited about that day. He's the one that keeps me going every day. With the long hours I spend working on the trips, it is definitely not a vacation-type atmosphere.

Posted by: Working Dad | November 3, 2006 9:29 AM

I remember my aunt, who is a SAHM of three kids, saying once, "What I want more than anything is just two hours to myself." I thought to myself-- you live next door to your parents-- drop off the kids with grandma and go! I think it's interesting that she didn't feel she could give herself permission to do that-- she's an awesome mom (a role model for me in terms of how she interacts with her children) but she's a little too over the top with this 'I have to be with them every single spare second or they'll come out warped' attitude (IMHO).

Why is it that there has to be the excuse of business trip in order to get a couple of hours of alone time? I hope that I'll be able to get occasional breaks (with help from my hubby, a sitter or family) whether they come in the form of business trips or not (and that I'll be able to provide breaks for my husband as well)-- is that a fantasy? I tell my husband we should plan both couple time and alone time and figure out ways to work it into our schedule regularly-- he says that as far as he has seen in his own family, once the baby comes you don't WANT to get away. I can see this being true with a newborn, but indefinitely? Is this true?

If my bizarro pregnancy dreams are any indication, maybe it is-- I'm already having (somewhat nutty) dreams about the baby, protecting him, keeping him from danger, etc. Maybe this feeling will be so strong I'll hop on the self-less mommy/guilt train after he's born, but right now I don't see why it has to be that way.

Posted by: JKR | November 3, 2006 9:31 AM

If I put my feelings about travel on a graph, they would look like one of those wave graphs from high school science. I hate it when I'm leaving. It's pretty common for me to choke up asI go through airport security and I see my wife holding our two girls (both under 3). But I start to love it after a few hours, usually during my layover, just after my wife calls to say that the girls are doing fine. I can buy and read fishing magazines without my older daughter asking me what fish babies call their mommies (does anyone know, by the way?). I start to hate it again by the second night I'm away, and then my feelings vary wildly.

I live in the US but do a lot of work in Africa, so my trips are only once or twice a year, but for 10 or so days at a time.

A couple of things make traveling easier. First, my wife travels too (much more frequently than I, but rarely for more than 48 hours at a pop). So I know what it's like to be at home alone with the kids for long stretches, and I know what it's like to be gone and immersed in work. So neither of us calls home to ask whether our older daughter can go to preschool with a fever. We're both capable of deciding, and we do.

Second, my wife and I have decided that the best strategy for solo work-related travel is to embrace the experience. I want her to have fun on her trips, and she wants me to have fun. We have had only one trip-related fight, and that was because she thought that I was moping around my hotel every evening and wasn't enjoying my surroundings. (In truth, I was working a lot and watching the World Cup, but that's beside the point.)

Finally, as our kids get older, we have adapted our strategies for traveling. Before my last trip, I made video recordings of myself reading 2 of my daughters' favorite books and telling 2 of her favorite stories (about when I was a little kid). Each was about 10 minutes, and she watched them more than once every day I was gone. We don't watch TV in our house, but they were able to watch these stories on my wife's laptop, which gave her those crucial 15 minutes necessary to get dinner together or get their PJ's ready.

Posted by: Father of 2 girls under 3 | November 3, 2006 9:32 AM

I would much rather be HOME with my husband and kids.

Posted by: Hate to travel... | November 3, 2006 9:32 AM

I would much rather be HOME with my husband and kids.

Posted by: Hate to travel... | November 3, 2006 9:32 AM

I definitely feel guilt when I travel. So much so that I changed to a job where travel is rare (and advancement opportunities are more limited as well).

The wife is a professional, so when I'm gone and she's doing double-duty, she can't possibly meet her firm's billables. I pulled a day-trip to TN this week (missing the blog's discussion on race, which I found interesting) -- up at 4am to rock the baby a little, at the airport by 6am, home by 10pm to help prep for the next day. Lots of phone calls in between to check in.

I perceive that there is a difference between business travel when you have a SAH spouse (they will see you less, and there is some increase in their parenting workload) versus having a WOH spouse (they will see you less and their parenting workload will DOUBLE). I would also assume I would therefore feel less guilty about travelling if my spouse was SAH.

Am I off base?

Posted by: Proud Papa | November 3, 2006 9:39 AM

I don't think that this is just a woman's issue anymore. I've seen some of the men in my office try to cut down on business travel, since their absence disrupts the household routine and puts an extra burden on their wives (from what I can see, they seem to have divided the childcare responsibilities fairly equally)...and they're not just using this an excuse, since they've turned down some opportunities which they would have loved to be in on. This works out great for me, since I'm totally free to go and get some extra interesting projects due to this.

Posted by: notyetamom | November 3, 2006 9:39 AM

Well I am the stay at-home spouse.

My husband is self-employed, so those trips look like money in the bank to me. Trips = business = payday!

Over the years I've caught hints of two sides of the trips. The one I'm likely to hear about is the non-stop work days, miserable food, missed connections.

The side I get the hints of are the fancy dinners, conference swag (IBM rented the Magic Kingdom at Disney World for an evening one time!), and plush accomidations. When our family goes to San Fransisco we never stay at the Fairmont!

Now that my kids are older I go along
sometimes. You can't believe how much nicer air travel is when you are with a million mile flier.

But you know what? When he's gone I am the Queen of the house. Cooking ? FORGET IT. Pizza six nights in a row! Sick kid? I take off (I work by the hour). All Daddy rules are suspended and we do things MY way.

It's a chance for us stay-at-home spouses to live it up!

Posted by: RoseG | November 3, 2006 9:42 AM

Guilty? Not me!

I enjoy having the time to myself.

I do miss my husband and kids. But I come home rested from a night or two of uninterupted sleep and that makes me a better mom.

It also helps that I know my husband is fully capable of handling things on the homefront.

Posted by: MOM2LED | November 3, 2006 9:47 AM

I've picked a job where travel is almost non-existant. Last trip was July 2005. For that, I took a red-eye back so I could by home by the time the kids woke up.

I completely agree that all parents should get time "off" but why does it have to be 2-3 complete days? I think it is a sign that they aren't getting a few hours a week (and I don't mean when the kids are asleep) to themselves. I believe that if parents (both genders) get some "me" time during the week (lunch with the friends, uninterupted time to watch the game, etc.), they wouldn't "need" the business trips to unwind and get away.

Trying to be only a bit inflammatory here, if you so desperately need time away from the kids, maybe having kids wasn't the right thing to do? I enjoy my time away from the kids but I enjoy my time with my kids even more.

Posted by: Father of 2 | November 3, 2006 9:48 AM

Goodbye Tears, thats what I call them. I just wunder how many mothers have snuck out the back door so they could run an errun and avoid the goodbye tears.

I can't tell you how many times I've physically had to restrain my kids while my wife went out the door. One time, while I held two of them in my arms who were scratching, kicking, biting, and screaming "I want my Mommy" as my wife took her sweet time warming up the car in the driveway, I just let them go. they busted out of the house and began to chase the car down the street. My wife saw them in the rear view mirror, but instead of punching the accellerator and leaving them in the dust, she slowed down enough for them to chase her. I'll be darned if they didn't chase her all the way around the block.

Just another small example of another mommy literally "Driven by Guild".

Posted by: Father of 4 | November 3, 2006 9:53 AM

I enjoyed reading the article from NYT -- thank you Leslie. It described all my emotions when I traveled internationally. I was glad to see that I am not the only one who feels that way.

Posted by: a working mom from Bethesda | November 3, 2006 9:55 AM

For a while there, I felt I could write a darn travel guide (ie Fodors) about where the best places are to breast-pump in airports around the country. Traveling when your kid is really little is tough but boy is it nice to sleep uninterrupted! I think balance here is the key. Every family is different, and every job situation is different. Of course we mothers feel guilty about stuff, but we also know that to be good moms, we need to take care of ourselves. The details of that are to be left up to the individual.

Posted by: One4Balance | November 3, 2006 9:57 AM

I hated traveling for business. I was gone about a week out of every month during the height of my traveling time, and it was far from a vacation. My older children were young at the time - under age 5.

I usually traveled by car - usually several hours, since the locations I was visiting were all very rural and remote. The few times I needed to fly - to South Dakota and to Vermont from Oregon - I would still have an hour's drive after the plane ended. Motels were normally small town operations or very rural - we're talking the Bates Motel sitting on the side of the highway 20 miles from any town. Dining was take-out or the occasional diner. The idea of a manicure and massage during business travel is about as foreign of an idea as I can imagine. LOL

"Horror story": The CFO of the company I worked for was Mr. Frugal. He was also a hypocrite. He would expect us to stay in the biggest fleabag motel around - as he sat in his huge house on a lake in the most exclusive community in Oregon. When I was expecting my second child, I had orders from my doctor to quit traveling 6 weeks before my due date (baby #1 was 3 weeks early with a 5 hour labor), and he said "I don't see why you have to stop - my wife had all three of our children with doctors delivering who were not her regular OB". (I guess he forgot that the places I traveled to often didn't have a HOSPITAL, and that I wouldn't have someone to drive me TO the hospital if I needed to go.) And when I was in Vermont in February, five months pregnant, trying to fill the gas tank on my rental car at 5:00 am in a blizzard, trying to catch a flight home on a Saturday morning to save the company money, couldn't figure out how to open the tank, and finally gave up and decided to just turn the car in and pay the rental-car-fill-up prices, he called me when he was approving my expense report and chastized me for doing so - and when I explained the situation, he treated me like I was an idiot (did you look in the glove compartment?? doh!!!)

Posted by: momof4 | November 3, 2006 10:04 AM

I logged over 200,000 flight miles for business travel in 2 years on my most recent job. I HATED the time away from my family and the lost time with my daughters.

Remember the cell phone commercial about the guy travelling and he's clearly depressed until he gets a call from his daughter and it just makes his entire day? Yeah, that could have been me.

During the time, I didn't complain about it because I figured what I was going through was nothing compared to what our military families go through while their loved one defend us and our freedoms (but since you asked...).

Posted by: Rufus | November 3, 2006 10:14 AM

My dad was in the Army for most of my life, he retired when I was a junior in college, so he missed a lot of mine and my siblings' childhood. When we were old enough to realize that dad was leaving to go on a trip (4 or 5) we'd be sad and cry, but he always came back. And as we got older we knew that dad would be coming back, sometimes with gifts and sometimes with just MREs. (Which, when you're 8 and can eat the "space ice cream" is a gift in itself.) It didn't destory my childhood or anything and I know that both my parents love me. It was just the way our life was, it was his job and we didn't begrudge him for it. Now that I'm older my dad has told me that felt guilty leaving us and wishes he could've been there to watch us grow up and celebrate our birthdays. The best part of traveling, he said, was coming home and seeing us meet him at the airport or the motor pool and being the center of attention for 2 or 4 days.

Posted by: Melissa | November 3, 2006 10:15 AM

RoseG, I agree! I'm glad my husband doesn't travel too often, but an occasional trip is kind of a nice change. We don't do pizza (except the take'n'bake kind-- its the best we can do out here), but the kids LOVE when we have breakfast for dinner. I get everyone in bed early and have a quiet evening and some solitude.

For international calling, I recommend Vonage-- we've had it for years, and it's a great deal.

Posted by: YetAnotherSAHM | November 3, 2006 10:17 AM

ummm...why would anyone begrudge a mother a couple days to herself? And thinking that "you shouldn't have kids" if you want a little time to yourself? That is insane! The mothers that feel they have to be with their kids 24/7 are the ones who have the kids that want to go to college 3000 miles away just to be able to breathe...

Posted by: me | November 3, 2006 10:23 AM

Hey Father of 2 girls under 3, you and your wife sound great. What a good attitude about travel. Good for you!

Posted by: Secondthoughts | November 3, 2006 10:24 AM

"Trying to be only a bit inflammatory here, if you so desperately need time away from the kids, maybe having kids wasn't the right thing to do?"

FO2, in my world, "time away from the kids" is shorthand for "time away from home responsibilities." Kids go to bed by 8, so I already get downtime from them. But there's ALWAYS laundry to be done, bills to be paid, light bulbs to be changed, meals to be planned, etc. etc. etc. -- I could make you a 50-item list as I sit here of tasks that are just swirling around in my mind. And even when I say, you know, I need some downtime, screw the laundry, there is still lingering guilt about that load of clean clothes that has been sitting in the dryer for 3 days. The nicest thing about traveling is that I CANNOT fold clothes from 2,000 miles away -- and knowing that somehow lets me turn off that little guilt center in the brain that tells me I should really be folding laundry instead of watching Louisville vs. West Virginia (go Cards!). (I still watch the game -- just feel a little guilty for not doing something more productive)

I don't know if it's a male/female thing, or a personality type thing, or what, but my husband can come home, get the kids to bed, and hop on Wired News with no guilt whatsoever, whereas when I sit down in front of the computer, the little voice in my head nags me to update Quicken. I think part of it is that, as equitably as you divide up the big household tasks, someone has to end up being the "keeper of all of the little miscellaneous tasks." Which is me. So I've always got that mental list of "things to be done" running in the background. And yeah, I need to learn to shut that off. But until I figure out how, it's a relief when I'm somewhere where that stupid little voice shuts up on its own. Preferably on a beach somewhere with my husband and an alcoholic beverage -- but in a pinch, I'll settle for East Texas on business. :-)

Posted by: Laura | November 3, 2006 10:24 AM

I don't travel for work, but I went away for the weekend a couple of years ago, thinking that I needed time for myself. I did not particularly enjoy it. I did not sleep that well because I missed my little and my husband next to me. I was bored at the resort. It just seemed very empty without my family. At home, I do get time for myself. Saturday evenings after my son goes to bed are nice. My husband and I relax together, have a late dinner, watch movies or read and enjoy the quiet. And when things are loud and chaotic, when the kid is jumping on the couch and I am walking over his leggos, I just smile and revel in the fact that he is there and the house is so full of him.

Posted by: Emily | November 3, 2006 10:25 AM

I don't travel much--maybe twice a year, but I mostly enjoy it. I hate flying and all that it involves these days, but when I'm without the family, it's fairly simple. I get to read, sleep late (unless I have an early meeting) and exercise when I want to. I like that I don't have to worry about anyone else.

And I suspect my husband likes traveling for the same reason (he travels more often). Since he travels more, I make him get up with the kids. So I guilt him!

Anyway, I think this only shows that parents need "me" time once in a while. And that's ok.

Posted by: Anonymous | November 3, 2006 10:31 AM

Kids go to bed by 8, so I already get downtime from them.

You also get downtime from your kids every day when you go to work.

I think part of it is that, as equitably as you divide up the big household tasks, someone has to end up being the "keeper of all of the little miscellaneous tasks." Which is me. So I've always got that mental list of "things to be done" running in the background.

Welcome to womanhood.

Posted by: whine, whine, whine!! | November 3, 2006 10:31 AM

great post Laura! I have the exact same guilt issue/not being able to shut down when there are "things to be done"

husband has no problem there - I'm doing laundry, etc, he's surfing the net and watching TV, which by itself would be fine - more power to him - but when I'm asked "honey, do I have any clean underwear," it rubs a bit

and BTW, when I travel for business, daughter goes to the inlaws, so husband has time "off" also, hmmm...

Posted by: justhavetosay | November 3, 2006 10:32 AM

I've had one trip so far (first job where there was a travel expectation). I really enjoyed it, but mostly because my DD was at 'other mother's house' and I wasn't leaving both partner and DD alone. Partner alone meant that she didn't eat well (she actually FORGETS meals when I'm not around - never figured out how to do that) but caught up on sleep. I got to order the pizza I like for dinner in the hotel room, and watch the Food Network all night, and catch up on my sleep. It was nice - and the homecoming was nicer still. I couldn't do it too often, though - luckily I'll probably do it at most three times next year.

Posted by: Rebecca in AR | November 3, 2006 10:36 AM

During the time, I didn't complain about it because I figured what I was going through was nothing compared to what our military families go through while their loved one defend us and our freedoms (but since you asked...).

they sign up for the job!

Posted by: Anonymous | November 3, 2006 10:38 AM

"Welcome to womanhood."

Gee, sexist much?

Justhavetosay: I've found that "I don't know, do you?" works pretty well. :-) Although he does his own laundry, so with us, it would be "does the daughter have any clean dresses?" -- can't wait until kids are big enough to manage that on their own.

Posted by: Laura | November 3, 2006 10:42 AM

"husband has no problem there - I'm doing laundry, etc, he's surfing the net and watching TV, which by itself would be fine - more power to him - but when I'm asked "honey, do I have any clean underwear," it rubs a bit"

Justhavetosay --

I assume you've been married for a while, right? If so, and if your husband is accustomed to being able to relax and goof off while you're doing household chores and/or caring for your daughter, then it sounds to me like you've allowed this assignment of roles to occur. Worse, you've allowed your husband to conclude that it's ok with you.

Sounds like you're lying in the bed you've carefully made.

Posted by: Anonymous | November 3, 2006 10:45 AM

probably another topic altogether, but my reluctance to respond to him with "I don't know, do you?" is about me, not him -- I want to be able to take care of the typical wife things and work and have down time, but like to sleep also (energy level doesn't allow me to clean into the night, which is what my mother did in this situation)

so, I think I've set it up to make it so that he feels justified in asking and so that it looks like his lack of clean underwear is somehow a failing of mine

yes, I have an issue here...

warning - stereotype question follows - is it just a "man thing," or should having a conversation with him help? If so, how should that start? 'cuz I've tried it all...

Posted by: justhavetosay | November 3, 2006 10:48 AM

I feel guilty if I am missing an event important to my child. I travel on average once a month. What's nice about that is that I rack up enough miles to be treated "nicely" by the airline I fly. I also like sleeping through the night. Although frankly I sleep best at home with my family. I love the long flights for catching up on reading. I do miss my children and husband but I usually call every morning before they leave the house and every night before they go to bed. I do like business travel. It was different when my children were babies. It was really difficult for me. I nursed both children so juggling a pump and everything else on a business trip was challenging. I also felt horrible not being with my kids. I even once or twice tried to bring my family with me on a business trip. That really didn't work. I felt really split between work and family. Now I prefer to just travel for business alone. That way I can devote 100% to the job (sometimes working 20 hours a day). Of course I am exhausted when I get home but seeing my kids gives me back most of my energy.

My tips: Bring a few recent photos. I have to carry a laptop so I update my screensaver with new photos.
Check in as often as you need to by e-mail or phone.
Have a good meal or two.
Go to the fitness center and get a great workout in every day
Use the extra time to really focus on the job.
Bring some fun books or magazines to read on the plane. Stuff you don't get time to read normally.
Make sure it's a trip you need to attend. Limit business travel to important trips.

Posted by: working mom downtown | November 3, 2006 10:49 AM

to anon poster - obviously, I acknowledge my role in this

instead of telling me about my carefully prepared bed, any idea how to break the cycle now?

Posted by: justhavetosay | November 3, 2006 10:49 AM

Laura: maybe so, but I call it like I see it. You seem to think you have a corner on the market of being the family manager, when pretty much every woman I know does exactly the same thing.

Have you seen that e-mail where the woman says "I'm going to bed." and then proceeds to spend half an hour doing her getting ready for bed chores and the man says "I'm going to bed" and then does?

The whining about responsibilities of the upper middle class just gets old. And the article Leslie posted is so out of touch. Tlking about high end hotels and cognac in the tub and making sure the housekeeper is paid while traveling for business when the vast majority of the mothers in this country are worrying about making sure their kids are fed before they go off to their barely-make-ends-meet job.

Posted by: whine, whine, whine!! | November 3, 2006 10:54 AM

Justhavetosay, we really liked the book, "The Seven Principles for making marriage work" by John Gottman. It has great practical tips, including a long, many-page list of all possible household chores. Each member of the couple goes through individually and fills it out, both with who currently does the chore and who would ideally do the chore. It's a nice way to get you started talking in a productive, nonaccusatory way-- and to make him realize how much more you are doing than he is.

Posted by: To justhavetosay | November 3, 2006 10:57 AM

Both my husband and I travel for work but he more frequently than I - and he goes better places. We both manage it but it is more difficult when there's one parent rather than two. His longest trip was 4 months, my longest was 5 days. Karma works though and the 5 days was also his induction into dealing with 3 sick kids while sick himself. Luckily the neighbors saved the day for him (although it wouldn't have occurred to me to call for help under similar circumstances!). I do not feel guilty when I travel but like others who have posted, I miss the normal chaos after about 2 days. I love the flight time though - me and book and no reason to do anything but sit quietly and read.

We do call home when we travel, send emails, and if it's a longer trip, pick up trinkets for the kids. When my daugher was 2 and dad had his 4 month trip, he recorded himself reading lots of books and it made a huge difference that she could see him and hear his voice. Lot of emailed pictures and letters went back and forth for that one too.

Now, we try to coordinate one or two trips a year when we accompany one another and grandma stays with the kids. It's a mini-vacation and still somewhat work related for at least one of us. Good all around.

Posted by: Stacey | November 3, 2006 11:03 AM

JKR, I think one of the reasons that some parents feel like they need a business trip to have an excuse is that they want both things - to have time alone and to have more time with their family. As Momof4 has often noted, a lot of us are trying to "have it all" and there's often just not enough hours in the day. When I come home some days, part of me just wants to curl up with a book and part of me is dying to spend time with my son and husband because I've missed them. So sometimes it's nice to have the decision made for you, as Laura was saying, and you don't have to think about it or weigh it out.

I haven't had any business trips since my son was born, but I do find that the days I have to go to the office (I work from home most days) or somewhere else for work are kind of a treat - I have lunch with co-workers or friends, get some downtime, it's kind of nice.

Posted by: Megan | November 3, 2006 11:04 AM

justhavetosay: it's not a man thing. It's your man's thing. I'm not blaming. Gosh, if someone wanted to do all the stuff I hate doing, and never complained, I guess I'd be pretty happy with that setup, so we can't blame him for being happy and unlikely to take the first step to change.

Have you tried pointing out a household need for him to take care of while you're going your tasks? Like, "Honey, I'm going to take care of this laundry. Would you please change those two lightbulbs/ sweep the floor/ run the vacuum?" If he sees that your working, and hears a direct request, he would have to be pretty boorish to decline in favor of his own entertainment.

We got married SO young that we didn't have any hard-and-fast single-person habits to break, but we made our own couple-habits that work for us. I haven't taken out the trash, or cleaned a litter box or a bathroom in ten years. Husband hasn't run a load of laundry or cooked a meal in that time. When he starts cleaning the bathrooms (unasked) I feel guilty that he's working and I'm not, and I go tidy the kitchen or make a bed. When he sees that I'm folding laundry, he stops whatever he's doing to empty all the trash in the house. It's a funny dynamic, I know. Sometimes I'll see him gearing up to do something housey, and I'll beg him to sit back down and relax, so that I can stay where I am!

Posted by: K Street | November 3, 2006 11:04 AM

Having one spouse (or both) travel a lot doesn't just complicate logistics -- it can also be expensive! I know I count on my husband to be home in the evening to watch the kids so I can go to community meetings, take or teach courses and so forth. When he's gone, I end up paying a sitter to watch the kids instead. I'm sure I'm not the only person to notice this phenomenon . . .

They have this tradition in the military that when the soldiers get home from a long deployment the commander gives "certificates" to the wives, congratulating them on having survived the deployment. I'm afraid I told my husband several years ago that if I receive a piece of paper from a commander at the end of his deployment, there had better be numbers on it and it had better be a check! I remember totalling up at one point how much extra we ended up spending for back-up childcare and other expenses when he was gone.

And then there's the sleep issue. When I was home with three under five who all woke up regularly during the night, I'm afraid I used to call him at 3 or 4 AM and claim I must have miscalculated the time difference -- just because I was SO jealous of all the extra sleep he was getting. Nowadays, I enjoy the opportujnity to catch up on all the chick flicks when he's gone . . .

Posted by: Armchair Mom | November 3, 2006 11:05 AM

"Sometimes I'll see him gearing up to do something housey, and I'll beg him to sit back down and relax, so that I can stay where I am!"

K Street, we have a very similar dynamic! More often than not it's me asking him to sit back down, but sometimes the reverse. It made me laugh to see you describe it exactly!

Posted by: Megan | November 3, 2006 11:08 AM

Eep, typos!

A thousand apologies.

going = doing
your = you're

Posted by: K street | November 3, 2006 11:08 AM

thanks for the feedback - I'll definitely look into that book (maybe on my lunch break today)-- apologies for the topic hijack

Posted by: justhavetosay | November 3, 2006 11:15 AM

'What are your . . . horror stories when it comes to traveling for work'

anyone else? makes for interesting reading!

Posted by: experienced mom | November 3, 2006 11:16 AM

Justhavetosay --

You're right. I should offer suggestions, not give you a hard time.

To that end, I second the earlier poster's recommendation of "The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work" by John Gottman.

Although the title sounds like just another self-help moneymaker, in actuality Gottman is a legitimate and highly respected researcher and therapist in the field of couples therapy. He has done extensive work with couples in his "Marriage Lab," and his ideas and suggestions are the fruit of long-term research studies. (He's sort of the "anti-John Gray.")

You can check out the Gottman Institute website at

Sorry for being snarky.

Posted by: Anonymous | November 3, 2006 11:19 AM

Horror stories:

We don't have kids, but we had a stressful situation a few years ago. One day before I was scheduled to leave on a five-day business trip we found the most perfect house for us, and decided to buy it. We stayed up late the night before my flight with our agent, going through all the paperwork. I left Monday morning, and my poor husband had to pull together all the financial info (I was the keeper of the documents, so it wasn't easy for him) meet with the mortgage agent, fill out mounds of forms, talk to the real estate agent 12 times a day, etc etc. Through all this, I'm calling him on every little break I get-- 5 minutes at a time, every three hours or so-- to talk about how much we're going to offer, to stress about the other potential buyers and whether its going to turn into a bidding war, to find a fax machine at the right moment he was faxing something for my signature...

We saw the house for the first time on a Sunday morning. Our offer was accepted late Tuesday evening. It was the most harried and stressful three days of recent memory, all because I had to be 1500 miles away on a business trip! If we'd had kids, I feel sure that it simply wouldn't have been possible.

Posted by: K street | November 3, 2006 11:26 AM

k street, do you live in DC? If so, did you have to out bid people and do you think you paid way more than the house is worth? Not being snarky, just interested.

Posted by: Anonymous | November 3, 2006 11:33 AM


get poison ivy on one of your arms. go to doctor. fake note saying you have developed a severe alergy to direct contact with detergeants. have hubby take over laundry.

but seriously, guys respond much better to direct requests (would you mind putting these things in that spot vs. would you mind helping me). if it's something you're very picky about, it's probably best to let it go or do it yourself (people clean in very different ways and to different degrees, so again, it helps to be specific). and draw a line for yourself--no work after X o'clock or whatever; it sounds like you are the type of person who won't take time for yourself if there's anything else left to take care of (and there's always something else to take care of).

i never have to travel for business, but i imagine my experience would be quite similar (enjoy the reading time and quiet, then miss the family after a few hours).

Posted by: marc | November 3, 2006 11:34 AM

My horror story for a spouse's travel: Getting a phone call from my husband's boss telling me that last they knew, he was in Dubai (he was traveling to the Far East via Europe-- he shouldn't ever have been in Dubai), but they couldn't locate him now and were hoping maybe I knew where he was. This was at the height of Westerners being kidnapped and beheaded in the Middle East. Luckily he turned up in his final destination about 15 minutes after I got the phone call.

Admittedly, it's nothing compared to what families of deployed troops must go through (the fact that they volunteer makes their sacrifice greater, not less.)

Posted by: anonToday | November 3, 2006 11:35 AM


If you are the same person who made the incredibly uninformed, racist remarks recently, you are such a turnoff that I don't care what you think about ANYTHING!

(If not, mea culpa.)

Posted by: Liz | November 3, 2006 11:38 AM

Whine, whine, whine: Yeah, you do have a fair point -- it's just when you respond using a name like that, it makes me less likely to want to engage on a reasonable level. I haven't read the NYT article, so I don't know anything about the high-class hotels and bubble baths (we're more Holiday Inn Express).

But for the record, I wasn't trying to provoke some, "oh, feel sorry for me" pity party -- yeah, I've got it pretty good, and I know it. What I WAS trying to do was respond to the post that asked why I'd have kids if I needed a "break" from them -- point being that the "break" is the break from the responsibilities that are always there when you're at home. Not that those responsibilities make my life hard and terrible, oh woe is me -- just that that's the part I enjoy getting away from. And frankly, I posted that precisely because I did NOT think I had the market "cornered" on those issues -- clearly FO2 doesn't feel those same pressures, so I hoped I might help him and other people (probably mostly men) understand that when some people (probably mostly women) say things like "I need a break from the kids" they really mean "I need a break from the responsibilities that go along with a home and kids."

Posted by: Laura | November 3, 2006 11:46 AM

Yep, we bought in the District, relatively close in.

The other bidders were trying to offer less than the asking price. By agreeing to the listing price, we were the high bidders and we won. Did we pay more than it's worth? Hard to say. We might not be able to get the sale price back out, if we were to sell today, given the recent cool-down. But we aren't going to sell today, or any time in the next decade, we hope. So it's worth having a secure roof over our heads, a neighborhood to invest ourselves in, no landlord to answer to, and of course, equity should we need it.

Posted by: K Street | November 3, 2006 11:47 AM

Liz, I have no idea what you're talking about -- missed a bunch of the discussions this week.

Posted by: Laura | November 3, 2006 11:48 AM


Not sure if it was this week, but there was a recent rant about race and statistics of bad behavior....

Posted by: Liz | November 3, 2006 12:02 PM

Sounds like we had another Laura posting the other day. Laura, there was a discussion two days ago, where a Laura posted some controversial statements.

I only travel about once a year, and then it's not a "break" because it's usually for something stressful, like a court appearance or some other "on your feet" experience, which stresses me out quite a bit. The only upside is eating dinner in a nicer restaurant than where I would take the kids, unless it's on the west coast and I stay a second night because of the time change and flights. Then I enjoy kicking back and watching TV because, as Laura mentioned, I couldn't do laundry even if I wanted to.

My kids are okay with me going to work and traveling now. But about four years ago we went through a period where I'd leave my daughter looking out the window with tears coming down her eyes as I went to work in the morning. It was horrible. On the one hand, I wished I could spend some time with my son in the morning, but was thankful he managed to sleep through my leaving in the morning so I didn't have to face the possibility of the same response from him. My daughter was almost always fine being dropped off at day care or preschool, however. Unfortunately our schedules didn't work such that it usually made sense for me to be the one to do that.

Posted by: Sam | November 3, 2006 12:09 PM

Sam, as soon as you've pulled out of the driveway, they stop crying and go about their business.

After they realize that they succeeded in making you feel guilty for leaving, it's like, mission accomplished.

Posted by: Father of 4 | November 3, 2006 12:22 PM

Re: crying

Heck I pout and get grumpy if my partner is going to a conference or workshop and won't be home until 9.

This doesn't stop me from encouraging him to go- but I LOVE sharing home time with him and HATE when things interrupt it.

I can easily see why a kid would get a bit emotional to have their schedule interrupted and have to say goodbye to a parent, even if just for a day or two.

Unlike adults though, you can't tell little ones to look at the long term benefits and to stifle the short term feelings that induce guilt in the parent.

Posted by: Liz D | November 3, 2006 12:25 PM


I think you're right. I used to hear the same thing about when I left my son at day care. It's amazing they learn how to manipulate at such a young age! Unfortunately, that didn't help me much at the time.

It does have me wondering whether my Mom was pulling the same trick when she dropped me off at college. Did she and my Dad, like a recent TV commerical, really whoop it up after they left me there? Did they play the stereo loud all the way home and go out to celebrate that night? Maybe I'll find out in about 10 years if my kids go to college . . . .

Posted by: Sam | November 3, 2006 12:26 PM

In other words Laura someone had a difference of opinion so they are racist, insecure or angry. It wasn't you so I guess you are safe for today.

Posted by: Anonymous | November 3, 2006 12:27 PM

//why should there be tears from your kids when you leave unless you are making them cry? Your littlies probably can't understand the length of time you may be gone

Most 15-year olds do have a concept of time :)

I love business travel; I spend probably the equivalent of 10 weeks a year on the road and love it love it love it, except for the inconvenience of flying these days. It has absolutely nothing to do with wanting to be away from the family; if I could afford it and they didn't have schedules of their own I'd take them with me every time. That doesn't mean I can't enjoy the luxury of having people do things for me. Clean fluffy towels for every shower? Bliss. Cooking and cleaning by somebody else? Heaven. Climbing into a big comfortable bed with clean sheets and no partner with snores and RLS? Priceless. I have no guilt at all.

I do remember, when the kids were much younger, one of my husband's colleagues asked me "who looks after the children when you are traveling?" He looked absolutely gobsmacked when I replied "Their father. He is at least as good a care giver as I am." And I'm pretty good.

Posted by: Very Old Mother | November 3, 2006 12:29 PM

Re crying:
I don't believe little kids are intentionally manipulative-- they just aren't empathetic enough to care about how their parents feel. I think kids cry when their parents leave because it makes them sad, but not sad enough to keep them from moving on fairly quickly once you're gone.

Posted by: YetAnotherSAHM | November 3, 2006 12:31 PM

OK, it's off topic, but since it's been bought up...;-)

Did anyone else's parents exhibit just a little too much excitement to be dropping them off at college freshman year? Hey at least pretend you're going to miss me.

I'm 35, and I'm still bitter about this. I may even bring it up at Thanksgiving.

Posted by: Proud Papa | November 3, 2006 12:33 PM

To whine, whine, whine:

If the topic doesn't apply to you, why do you feel the need to complain about it? Judging from the number of posts, it is relevant to a great many people. If you have nothing to contribute, just read it (or don't, if you want) - please don't bother with the snarky comments.

Posted by: Sheesh | November 3, 2006 12:34 PM

I haven't traveled for work since I had my daughter (she is 16 months now), but my husband travels occasionally. Last weekend he was gone for 2 days, and by Monday morning I honestly could not wait to drop my girl off at daycare and spend some time away from her, even if I had to do it in the office. This week my husband is gone for 4 days, but I'm just trying to take it a day at a time, and keep the daughter as relaxed as possible.

Posted by: Emma | November 3, 2006 12:36 PM

Off topic to Proud Papa:

My parents were excited too -- and unlike the helicopter parenting that has been discussed here before -- eager to push me out there to learn to make my own decisions. My friend's parents made her NOT come home until Thanksgiving as part of her adjustment. She feels she assimilated faster to college life. (though she admits at the time she was a little mystified).

Posted by: Product of a Working Mother | November 3, 2006 12:38 PM

It's a hassle for me to travel, and I miss my daughter terribly when I do. As we have no family in Arizona, she stays with friends, and in some cases, I am able to take her with me.

I keep my business travel to a minimum, which is one of the reasons I chose my current job. I usually only have to travel five blocks to the state capitol : )

Posted by: single western mom | November 3, 2006 12:40 PM

Somewhat related - I generally get a least a couple weeks of notice before I travel - but DH often learns he must travel less than a week in advance. With our schedules, it helps so much to plan ahead. Any tips for how to adapt/adjust with short notice? He's usually only away for 2 to 4 days but it's very hard to plan things when we may learn on Monday that he's traveling on Thursday and Friday. It throws my week way off when this happens and I get crabby.

Re. crying tots - I agree that the crying generally is very short term. I've only had that happen once or twice but there's a mom at my daughter's preschool who seems to instigate it - as if she doesn't feel important or sufficiently missed unless she gets the little guy to cry when she leaves. Drives me crazy to see this.

Posted by: Stacey | November 3, 2006 12:41 PM

I did the happy dance when my first went to University out of town. I miss her dreadfully, but I knew she could handle it and that one measure of our success as parents was that she was ready and willing to take on the challenge (she did very very well).

And I don't mind if there are fewer backpacks and jackets and sneakers strewn about the front hall when I get home and less laundry to do. I just miss her engaging conversation and sweet face.

Posted by: Very Old Mother | November 3, 2006 12:43 PM

I have traveled on business nearly half of my adult life. The only way to enjoy is to get out of that hotel room early in the morning and immerse yourself in the place you are visiting. Run in the local parks, eat at the local breakfast places, then go do your work. At lunch, do the same local thing. After work, venture out even great distances. Schedule an occasional weekend at the location where you worked on Friday. Every so often I move to places where I first traveled on business. I have learned more about the people that I share the world with than any book could ever teach.

Posted by: thw2001 | November 3, 2006 12:47 PM

"I think kids cry when their parents leave because it makes them sad, but not sad enough to keep them from moving on fairly quickly once you're gone."

Isn't it likely that kids at that young age are crying because they're scared when they see mommy or daddy leaving? And once they've been re-engaged by another caregiver, their fear dissipates and they can move on.

Posted by: Anonymous | November 3, 2006 12:48 PM

"but there's a mom at my daughter's preschool who seems to instigate it - as if she doesn't feel important or sufficiently missed unless she gets the little guy to cry when she leaves. Drives me crazy to see this."

That's really sad. I did this without thinking a couple times - once I was leaving earlier in the morning than usual and my son and husband were eating breakfast. Instead of just saying bye and walking out the door I went and gave him a big kiss and said "I love you, goodbye" and he suddenly flipped. I felt terrible. Since then I've tried to be very conscious of not letting my own feelings about leaving get in the way - though I think for me it's not that I want him to cry to know he'll miss me, it's that I want to hug and kiss him because *I'm* bummed about going for a particularly long day or extra early or whatever. But it's amazing how quickly he'll pick that up and be upset by it.

Posted by: Megan | November 3, 2006 12:54 PM

I was raised by Eastern European parents, and guilt was never a part of their parenting vocabulary. They immigrated with the shirts on their backs and both worked full time to give themselves and us a life that was better than the one they'd had. My Mom was busy, but had plenty of time to do things she wanted to do because we were taught from an early age to use our imaginations and play on our own. We were well supervised and loved, but we were definitely the most independent (and happy) kids in the neighborhood. My nephews are incapable of playing without adult involvement for any period of time--no wonder the parents are always exhausted and miserable.

Posted by: dorami32 | November 3, 2006 12:58 PM

To 12:48, A child has at least 15 different cries, and an audio aware parent should be able differenciate each one.
1. I'm hungry
2. I'm physically uncomfortable
3. I'm scared
4. I'm tired
5. I'm angry
7. My stomach hurts - ie I need to fart but can't
8. I want Mommy
9. I'm sick of mommy
10. Injustice!
11. I'm bored
12. I can hear my echo, cool!
. Stop!!!
13. Ouch! I'm experiencing severe pain.
14. I'm lonely.
15. I missed you.

[It's amazing they learn how to manipulate at such a young age!]

At 2 weeks, my kids could communicate that they wanted to be picked up, rocked, fed, walked, an/ord taken outside just by crying. It's like, after I figured it out, "Why didn't you just say so".

Posted by: Father of 4 | November 3, 2006 1:11 PM

I travel several times a month for work, and don't feel guilty about it. I love the time to myself and my husband and son (who is 9) enjoy their time together. The one important thing I had to learn, however, was that my husband handles things in the house in ways that differ from mine, and that it is not helpful for me to check up on how he managed when I was away. He does things very well, just different, and my job is to smile and be happy to be home, not to comment on how my husband managed the house/childcare in my absence.

Posted by: Kris D | November 3, 2006 1:21 PM

i travel about 2-3 times a month on 3-4 day trips for work, which I usually enjoy. I even bring a bicycle with me to see the town i'm visiting.

right now, though, i'm 6 days away from finishing a 51-day trip. way too long! with 3-4 day trips you can keep your life as-is. anything longer than a week and everything from friendships to bill pay becomes a problem.

Posted by: julie | November 3, 2006 1:27 PM

I love the IDEA of getting away, then the sucky reality hits. Airports, endlessly talking about work (and trying to act interested)with coworkers, working away from my desk,not being able to do anything I really want.Then missing my kids while some hack drones on about paradigms. UGH, I feel sick just thinking about my next trip.

Posted by: pATRICK | November 3, 2006 1:58 PM

I'm not trying to be difficult here, just wondering if this is a chance to solicit some empathy:

A lot of people get angry of stay-at-home moms for saying their job is difficult. Yet, if even the vast majority of mom's who work outside the home look forward to some time away from it, can they imagine how those who are in the home ALL the time feel? (Some of you will take umbrage with the term "in the home" saying that they're out and about at parks, etc; - I'm using Laura's definition of "being with the kids" as my definition of "being in the home")

PLEASE don't interpret this as, "A SAHM has it harder". I'm just saying that a SAHM would enjoy a business trip now or then as much (if not more) than some working moms. And that's what I think they're saying when they argue that their lives are demanding also.

Posted by: a thought | November 3, 2006 2:01 PM

This is a very hot topic for me as I've been out of my home for 46 out of the past 66 nights. Granted on 7 of those nights, I took the kids and the nanny with me (the animals haven't seen me much either).
I'm a single mom trying very hard to do as much as I can so that at merit time, someone sees the impact of my hard work. THis hard work though takes a toll on my children and I don't know if that merit is quite worth the loss of time with the kids. If I currently earned more, I would feel a little less pressure to have to sacrifice my time with the children (and I have one under 12 months!). My father repeatedly asks me what I'm running from.
How do I personally feel while on the road? It depends on how far away I am. If I'm overseas, I tend to be nervous about the distance in case anything serious happens however I try to clear my mind of guilt since I've chosen to take this trip. Now that the decision is made, I have to make the best out of the trip both for my own sanity and for the sake of doing business. I am in a different city every day, literally so guilt doesn't really have time to hit. It's more like perpetual chaos.
I go back though to my concern about the effects on the children and I just don't have enough data on that to give you a straight answer. I think children in two-parent homes are just fine unless the other parent is totally deliquent. On the other hand, single parent children have a disadvantage, particularly when they are left with nannies. The nannies are great, since you trust them enough to leave the most precious things in your life in their care, however, these children are not theirs and consequently, something gets lost in the translation. Is that something significant enough to land them in therapy for life, I hope not. Time will have to tell.
I'm thankfull that my big traveling is almost over. I have a lot of homework to catch up on with my older child and a lot of teaching to do with my little one.
Bottom line, I do enjoy getting a good night's sleep however I'd much prefer to be able to look in on them on my way to bed than be in a strange, albeit comfortable bed every night. I don't have too much of a choice and choose to try to make the best of the situation.
PS, I do take advantage of a hot bath whenever possible - a little treat I never seem to have time for at home.

Posted by: single mom on the road | November 3, 2006 2:08 PM

Laura & justhavetosay, your posts today really strike a chord for me! I travel very rarely for my job and so last summer when I went to a 4-day conference, the break from the daily plethora of tasks and coordination responsibilities was just stunning. (In addition to the fact that I suddenly realized - I had never gone longer than 1 day without changing at least one diaper in the previous FOUR YEARS! How did that happen?)

I need to take a look at the "Seven Principles" book, because the list of tasks sounds like an incredibly useful tool. To those who have suggested asking for assistance with tasks on what sounds like a one-shot basis ("I'm folding the laundry now, would you sweep the floor?") -- this approach helps get one task done once, but it still leaves the coordination responsibility intact, and for me at least that's the truly sticky part. I suppose I too have made my own bed on this, but I'd contend I did it thoughtlessly instead of carefully! I find that the stereotypical ways of being are generally the path of least resistance; what takes real thought and effort is trying to make a change to the old patterns.

Posted by: AnnieJo | November 3, 2006 2:11 PM

a thought,

I agree with you. I have been a SAHM and the one thing I would have absolutely loved would have been some time away from all the day-to-day monotonous grind of childcare and housework. There was a vague dissatisfaction about how days rolled into a week and I had not even had taken the time to wash my hair, let alone see and appreciate the bigger picture of what I was doing.

Moral: All people need time off to do things at a different pace and space. The trick is lead a more purposeful life; and put your mind to absolutely enjoy what we have in the present. I am still trying :)

Posted by: AnotherRockcilleMom | November 3, 2006 2:11 PM

Pre-kids, I enjoyed travel for work unless the trips were in excess of 2 weeks. Now, I agree with Proud Papa and Mr.Honda in that I know my work-related travel is a burden to my husband. If he has to work late or if one of the kids gets sick, he and his colleagues suffer because I am out of town and can't pitch in to cover the home front. The homework monitoring burden for both kids lands 100% on him. I have the same problem when he travels for work.

Plus, it's work, not play. It's not as though I have time to enjoy the city to which I've traveled. A hotel room and hotel conference rooms are the same whether they're in Kansas City, LA, or Duluth. When you know you're burdening someone you love, you don't extend your trips a day or two for sight-seeing.

We each must travel for work maybe 3 - 4 times a year for 2 - 4 days, max. It's not a lot, but it really doesn't work for us during the school year.

Posted by: NC lawyer | November 3, 2006 2:39 PM

Hey, "a thought," I think you have a really good point. I know when I was at home, one of the hardest things was not having structured time where I could/had to leave those home obligations behind -- the mental "to do" list was on 24/7. Personally, WOHM involves more overall responsibilities than when I was at home, but I feel better able to handle them -- being able to turn off "home chores" and turn on "work chores" in the morning usually leaves me thankful to turn off "work chores" and more prepared turn back on "home chores" at the end of the day.

Posted by: Laura | November 3, 2006 3:00 PM

Kris D - you've got it down.

You go on travel, you do your work, you leave your spouse alone!

If you don't trust them to manage things while you are gone then don't leave.

If everything falls apart and they eat fast food and don't make it to their activities then you just say, 'oh they were spending time with their Dad'.

Now I happen to have a spouse who loves to travel, and he does add days onto trips to fool around if he's going someplace he hasn't been before. It makes him happy, and isn't that the sign of a good partner if you are happy because your SO if happy?

Posted by: RoseG | November 3, 2006 3:02 PM

Laura and "a thought", I really agree with you. I'm especially enjoying the wya you are describing your mind working, Laura, as it seems to capture exactly what goes on in my head too!

Posted by: Megan | November 3, 2006 3:04 PM

Wow, I really envy a lot of the bloggers who go to resorts or stay at nice hotels and get pampered and all that.

I hate business travel because it means driving to 20 different clients' worksites in 3 different cities over 8 days. It means staying in cheap motels and eating fast food or at diners. It means hearing mistresses and prostitutes in the next room (I could make money as a private detective!), seeing drug deals go down in the parking lot by the ice machine.

I come home to a wife that is exhausted because of the 2 young 'uns. Then she has to go back to work after the 8-day break and the boss has it in for her. We are always stressed before, during and after my business trips.

So Leslie, there is no bliss in business travel. Those who have a pleasant experience are lucky. Do enjoy your time alone.

Posted by: RoadLessTravelled | November 3, 2006 3:34 PM

Pre-kids I had enough business travel for the novelty to wear off. I typically traveled to the same couple places and stayed at the same couple motels (it was better from a work perspective, we all stayed in the same motels).

Now that I'm a SAHM, I don't envy working parents business travel, but I do wish I could drop my kids off at daycare when I'm sick and they're not. The idea of spending all day lying in bed getting better sounds like heaven.

Posted by: YetAnotherSAHM | November 3, 2006 3:44 PM

This just in:

My wife and I were invited to a baby shower. (What the heck was I thinking when I agreed to that?), but so what...

but get a load of this: They are going to have the mother induced a week earlier than her due date because the father was just scheduled for a business trip on her due date. Almost unbelievable!

Posted by: Father of 4 | November 3, 2006 3:45 PM

A little time apart is not a bad thing--like was said, a few days, maybe a week at most. I know when I have been home too long, my wife asks me if I have a trip planned soon. It makes the trip home that much sweeter!

Posted by: California, MD | November 3, 2006 3:47 PM

TO RoadLessTravelled :

Sorry about the loud noises in the cheap motels; I'll try to keep it down next time.

Posted by: June | November 3, 2006 3:48 PM

Father of 4

Marilyn Quayle had an earlier than due date induced delivery so that she could take the bar exam...........

Posted by: DZ | November 3, 2006 3:56 PM

At 37wks infants are considered "term".
Mine were born at 38,37wks respectively completely normal.
Though I have heard of others who've had babies born at 39wks, 9lbs and still had underdeveloped lungs.

Posted by: Mr.Honda | November 3, 2006 4:02 PM

Mr Honda -

I think the unbelievable part of Fo4's story is that the father of the new baby is still going on the business trip. He may be around for the birth of the child, but apparently no paternity leave or baby bonding here.

Posted by: WOW | November 3, 2006 4:08 PM

Another astounding thing about FO4's story is that when there was a conflict between a business trip and the birth of a child, the BIRTH was rescheduled. I really really hope the induction goes well and the baby is healthy, because sometimes due dates are wrong, and babies who were thought to be fullterm are not. Nobody deserves going through life wondering if they could have prevented a preterm birth and resulting learning disabilities etc...

Posted by: YetAnotherSAHM | November 3, 2006 4:24 PM

There are many unbelievable things about Fo4's stories.

Posted by: llo | November 3, 2006 4:32 PM

Im starting to loathe this blog and it's self-centered, smarmy, its-all-about-me attitude and audience...

Posted by: Anonymous | November 3, 2006 4:33 PM

People are just staying on topic.
"What about you? Do you loathe or love getting away? What are your tricks, tips and horror stories when it comes to traveling for work?"

Posted by: To 4:33 | November 3, 2006 4:40 PM

FO4 - I had a friend who needed to have a planned C-section for the birth of her child. The doctor scheduled it one week prior to the due date. All was fine.

But I sure wouldn't let my husband go on a business trip immediately after I gave birth. He would have to stay home and suffer with me.

Posted by: Emily | November 3, 2006 4:49 PM

Im starting to loathe this blog and it's self-centered, smarmy, its-all-about-me attitude and audience...

Well then get off the blog and do something you enjoy. Seriously, life is too short.

Posted by: Anonymous | November 3, 2006 4:51 PM

Im starting to loathe this blog and it's self-centered, smarmy, its-all-about-me attitude and audience...

Well then get off the blog and do something you enjoy. Seriously, life is too short.

Posted by: Anonymous | November 3, 2006 4:51 PM

This blog is really starting to reek of the "we are the world" syndrome. This is a public blog, not a share your dreams and find a place to cry on some one's shoulder outlet. I find that many here act as if this is their private group therapy session. I usually prefer the rough and tumble NY Times Blogs. Group think is rather boring. Now I just have to wait for some witty person to say if you don't like it, leave or something to that effect.

Posted by: pATRICK | November 3, 2006 4:53 PM


Why would someone "need" a planned C-section? Just curious. I had 2 but neither was planned.

I also remember labor being induced for pregnant women because they were past the due date, not earlier.

My baby is 14. I know that things do change.

Posted by: WOW | November 3, 2006 4:55 PM

A friend of mine had a planned C-Section with her second pregnancy because of the complications she had with her first pregancy. I never got the full details, but it was a risk to both her and the baby.

Posted by: Divorced mom of 1 | November 3, 2006 5:00 PM

WOW: I would guess close to half of the c-sections performed today are planned, they aren't all emergencies. Most patients that had a c-section the first time have a c-section on subsequent pregnancies on their doctors advise and they pick a day.

I had a c-section with my second due to a medical condition. It was planned about 2 weeks early (at 38) weeks due to the doctor's schedule. All was fine. Due dates are an educated guess most of the time.

pATRICK: Here you go - if you don't like it, leave it. Just wanted to make you feel comfortable;) BTW: I don't think it is so much group think here, but a lot of stories and personal histories that are long (which I don't mind) but have no paragraphs (which I do mind). They are very hard to read. Break up the text - it makes my eyes bleed!

Posted by: cmac | November 3, 2006 5:09 PM

I agree completely with the posters speaking about getting a break from household responsibilities. I adore my DH but it's always nice to have some time where I don't have to plan dinner, etc. I usually come home to a filthy house with the cats eating chopped hamburger because he's run out of catfood, and the same load of laundry sitting in the dryer from before I left. His rationale is that since I'm out being wined & dined, he should have some nights off too. (This would be great if either I didn't have to actually work while on my trips, or if he ever had corresponding trips to give me some nights off at home!) Actually though, I think it's great for our marriage--I love having some time where I don't have to "check in" and can either work as late as I need to, or take some time to shop or visit galleries if business allows (activities my DH doesn't enjoy much when we're together). We rarely even call each other when I'm away. I'm thrilled to see him on my return, of course!

Posted by: worker bee | November 3, 2006 5:29 PM

Has it ever occurred to those of you who need a break from household responsibilities to just take a break from household responsibilities? Don't do the the laundry or buy cat food or clean the house for a few days. The world won't end.

Posted by: Anonymous | November 3, 2006 6:04 PM

to anon at 6:04: because it's not "taking a break" if all the grunge is waiting for me -- times 10 -- when I come back to my world. This is akin to my husband saying, don't do the dishes tonight. It's not that he's going to do them (he does his 50% of household tasks -- just not that one). So they'll be waiting for me, and even more disgusting, the next morning, and they remain squarely on my tasklist.

A break is only a break when the workload doesn't pile up waiting for me to address it.

Posted by: NC lawyer | November 3, 2006 6:18 PM

"AMEN!," NC Lawyer.
You got it exactly right!!!

Posted by: SF Mom | November 3, 2006 6:54 PM

so basically - traveling gives you a chance to fob off your responsibilities on someone else. Or rather, fob off your type A personality perfectionist requirements on someone else.

The complaining around here never ceases to amaze me.

Posted by: Anonymous | November 3, 2006 7:10 PM

The baby shower I'm going to tomorrow should be pretty interesting. I attended their barnyard wedding a few months ago which was lots of fun, especially for the kids. The wife is about 10 years older than the husband and has teenagers from a previous marriage. They are a fun-loving couple and that's probably the reason I decided to attend the baby shower. by the way, couples only, no kids this time!

So, if I have no objections from the regulars, and the Cowboys start stomping all over the Redskins, maybe I'll post a few words on a dude's perspective of a baby shower on Sunday.

Posted by: Father of 4 | November 3, 2006 8:30 PM

>So, if I have no objections from the >regulars, and the Cowboys start stomping >all over the Redskins, maybe I'll post a >few words on a dude's perspective of a >baby shower on Sunday.

From the regulars? Get over yourself!

Posted by: Please don't | November 3, 2006 10:30 PM

Go for it, Father of4, I'm sure it will be amusing. Especially if it's one of those awful ones where you have to play a lot of embarrasing games - ack! At the very least it will be more interesting than those posts chastising the blog, which is always titillating.

And man, am I with on the importance of paragraphs, cmac!

Posted by: Megan | November 3, 2006 10:39 PM

I want to hear all about the baby shower!

Posted by: experienced mom | November 4, 2006 9:56 AM

the following post is rated for:
[X] Smarminess
[X] Sexism
[X] Personal experience

The Baby Shower


the Brat Bath... if you are a dude.

My wife and I ditched the kids, the invitation required it. Couples only! wonderful!

We were a little late and it was dark, but we found the address without a problem. Wow! the garage was the size of our house. It would be the first time I set foot inside a McMansion. I was wearing jeans, would they let me in?

Sure. My wife led the way. Through the "mud" room, never heard of such a thing. We were happily greeted by the party throwers and were breifed by the rules of the game. the rules:

Everybody was handed 1 diaper pin, and each person gave themselves a fantasy name. if you were called by your real name instead of your fantasy name, you could request the offender's diaper pin. The person at the end of the night with the most diaper pins was the winner and received the prize by the host. Your fantasy name you chose was written down on one of those "Hello, My name is:" stickers.

I instantly got all up in arms. discrimination, I cried! they didn't have braille stickers. How was a blind person able to call someones name if it was only printed on a sticker in magic marker and not available in braille? I began huffing and puffing and was ready to blow the house down...

and my wife slapped a sticker across my chest and said "shut up, your name is tickle me Elmo. No braille. don't even try to play that game!"

Darn! She's figured me out!

Ok, so in my mind It's perfectly Ok to call the chicks "tootsie", "honeybuns", "sweetheart", "hotpants", and "Little Missy".

and the guys:

"Peckerhead", "Slim", "Shorty", "dopey", and "doc".

And I have the perfect excuse. "Sorry, I couldn't read your name tag."

so then I met the guests of honor, big Mommy, and Big Daddy. the first thing I asked was to feel big Mommy's belly, which is reasonable because us blind folks see with our hands, not with our eyes. I got permission!

And I felt her bulging belly. She's round, but still a little small. the elastic band of her stretch pants wrapped right around her belly button. but anyway, she's not ready to pop yet. I could tell this because when the baby is "done", the mother's belly button pops out just like an Oven Stuffer Roaster. I know this from experience.

But I got the scoop: She is due Dec 7, but the inducement is scheduled for Nov 28. big Daddy is taking off "a few days", and Big Mommy is taking off for 12 weeks. She get 6 weeks leave at half pay.

Pretty good reporting for a dude, don't you think? If you want to know the sex of the baby, its name, what hospital, doctor, the master plan of who's going to be where and when and responsible for what, you'll have to ask my wife.

So the party began for me by my wonderful wife asking me if she could make me a plate of food. I graciously declined. by golly, this is the modern world, and I am perfectly capable of finding a dude that can serve me a plate of food. So I waved her on, and made my way through the crowd...

And found the bar, right next to "the six Million Dollar Man". He was plugging republicans for tuesday's election. After a few minutes of talking with him, I was ready to join the girls...

And so I did. It was about a 3 to 1 ratio of females to males. Actually, it was quite representative of what we have here on the Mommy blog, so I felt relaxed. I talked with the single gals about the biological clock, the stay at homers about Bon-Bons, working girls about clueless men in the office. Good times. And they kept offering me food and beer. Little Red Riding Hood was my favorite. there is something about those Irish women that I really like. their wit, humor.

I got tickled a lot, and tried to laugh like that silly red monstor. A he he he he ha ha haw haw haw. A he he he he ha ha haw haw haw.

then it came time for "Name that Diaper". this is a game where things like banannas, sweet potatoes, Gerber baby food, plumb sause, peanut butter, and snicker bars are placed in a diaper, nuked in a microwave, squished, and left for the expecting parents to identify. big Daddy grossed everybody out by licking out some of the more flavorable ingredience from the diaper.

Then I stepped outside for a breath of fresh air. I got lost exploring the deck. How embarrasing!

The wittiest remark I heard was from Baby Bop, who said, "Yeah, I'm single. but you sound like the type of guy that has a wife to take you home to the kids."

And Baby Bop is so right. How lucky I am.

I hope you enjoyed this post, especially Ida and Working Mother, who I was harsh on this past week.

Posted by: Father of 4 | November 5, 2006 7:05 PM

Oops, I forgot 1 very important detail.

Our gift to the expecting Mom was a nice, top-of-the-line double-barreled breast pump. they cost about 3 times as much as the cheapre models, but they are quiet, gentle, and the extra money is well spent over the single suction, rattle like an old refrigerator compressor version.

Posted by: Father of 4 | November 5, 2006 7:42 PM

I used to travel a couple years ago, but, unfortunately, my spouse was unable to handle the load when I was away. Even though I was traveling to lecture, he would call..."where is the this or the that?" I think we live in the same house but the kids would love when I returned. One for whatever gift I would bring and Two Mom is back! The second was the greatest!

Posted by: jspq | November 5, 2006 11:50 PM

"They [kids] cry when they don't get what they want."

Hell, I'm 31 and that's still the case for me. ;-)

Posted by: ilc | November 6, 2006 7:52 AM

I have been a single mom for 5 years, during which time I have traveled for work -- a short trip every week or two. I, like most mothers, didn't plan on being a single mom, but I have found it to be easier than being a married mom in many respects. When it comes to business travel, one thing that eases the impact is my daughter's visitation schedule with her dad. He is local, and she spends alternately one or two nights a week at his house. That means she has time with her dad, her dad has to be "on deck" without constant help, and I have quiet time alone on a regular basis, independent of my travel schedule. When I do travel, he has first right of refusal for her care (per decree). Whether time with dad is a result of the visitation schedule or my business travel is almost indistinguishable to my daughter.

Regarding the guilt discussion, many decisions parents make give something and take something away at the same time. Having a challenging and rewarding job I love gives my daughter a wonderful example she can emulate or not -- her choice -- but the model is there for her. (It also pays her tuition.) Of course I miss some important things, and that does take something away. All choices sacrifice something. SAHM's sacrifice a lot, too.

Posted by: mom in TX | November 6, 2006 5:28 PM

I love your blog, keep writing :)

Posted by: Anna | November 10, 2006 2:57 PM

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