Each time my wife or I travel for work, there is an impact on our daughters. They miss us, and of course, we miss them. And like most working parents, we try to explain why we work, what we do at work and how we are trying to make an impact by investing time away from them.
These explanations can help, but I’m never sure if they make a difference.
If you are a regular consumer of my content, you will know my ‘family first’ philosophy. I walk the talk on this by planning my travel and meeting schedule to minimise my time away from family. That’s a good start, but I’ve been thinking more about how I can reduce the impact while I’m away.
I have employed two tactics that you might find useful if you’re a parent that travels for work.
A story to explain love
I tell my wife and kids that I love them as often as possible. As our girls are now in the habit of writing and telling stories, I followed suit.
Here is a story I wrote on the outbound flight of my current visit to Singapore.
Each time the door closes
Each time the door closes, I miss you.
When I close your bedroom door at night.
When I say goodbye at the school gate.
When they close the aircraft door.
These are hard moments because I love and value every minute with you. And like your Mumma, always want more.
I saw your brave eyes this morning when you realised that I had to leave for the airport. And I feel your sadness when I travel away from you, but I want you to know that I go because it helps us give you what you need.
Like our safe and loving home and each opportunity that helps you grow and learn.
When I travel, I want you to know that I never stop thinking about you.
I am always wondering what you’re thinking about, smiling about and worrying about.
That is my job, my privilege, and I truly love it.
You are my most precious and incredible achievement.
And I know your Mumma feels exactly the same way.
Each time the door closes, I miss you. And I think about how I can be a better dad. I can’t wait to see you in my dreams and don’t worry; I’ll be home soon.
Sweet dreams my loves.
My wife tells me the message landed. There were tears, but I’m holding onto the fact that they were happy tears.
Storytime. Playschool style.
Storytime is a big deal in our house. And as much as we try to make time zones work when travelling, we sometimes struggle to FaceTime before the girls turn in.
The second tactic involves packing some of their favourite bedtime stories. I record myself reading the stories and ship the video to my wife so it can be played at the right time.
Much like how the hosts of playschool read stories, just far poorer production quality!
In doing this, I’m trading off pre-bed screen time (which I’m not a fan of) with trying to be closer to the girls while away. It’s not perfect, but it’s an attempt to reinforce their importance in our lives.
One last thing…
I’m by no means a perfect parent, but I do believe that we, as parents, are in the memory creation game. These two tactics are attempts we are making to help cushion the effects or work travel.
These tactics might not work, but I hope they help.