Traveling for Work :: Making it Easier

My husband is a very “hands–on” dad – he always gets up with the kids in the morning, and feeds and gets them dressed, so that I can sleep a little longer. (I take the evening shift!) He’s great at Legos and plays princess dolls with our five-year-old without an ounce of self-consciousness. He colors, changes diapers, and plays “camping” or “restaurant” on the weekends in the living room while I run errands. He’s a great Dada.

But even great dads meet their match eventually. Last week was the first time I had traveled for work since Spencer was born. While I was in Orlando, Jon had to care for both children by himself overnight for three days for the first time. It was a rough couple of days, and Spencer didn’t help anything by deciding that sleeping was not on the agenda. Here’s my husband’s text to me last Sunday – I had not even been gone a full day:

Working Mom

The first time Jon traveled for work Spencer was 14 weeks old, and I was on my second week back at work from maternity leave. Those were three very difficult days for me. Since then, Jon’s traveled several times, and I now think I have it down, most of the time. But I think the kids know when one of us is gone, and react accordingly by fussing or not sleeping.

I knew it was going to be a tough three days for Jon by himself, having been through it, so I did the best I could to help him out before I left. Whenever either of us has impending travel or is on a trip, there are a few things I make sure happen.

Of course, even the best preparation doesn’t always make things go smoothly. The first night I was gone Jon called me at 10:30 p.m. to tell me he was taking Spencer to the ER at Wolfson’s and could I please get someone to come sit at the house with Mattie. Fortunately, Spencer was fine, just a virus that made him sound like he had laryngitis and a mewing kitten when he cried. But stuck in Orlando, far away from my baby, I was appropriately freaking out until Jon let me know what the doctor had said.

Working Mom

Travel for work is never easy, for the parent who goes or the parent who stays. At least if you’re the parent traveling, you can count on a nice dinner out that does not include coloring on paper place mats, and a good night’s sleep in a quiet hotel room.

Most of the time. Unless your kid is at the ER.

My Tips for Traveling for Work

  • Stock up. The cupboards are full of formula and baby food. There is food in the fridge and a plenty of diapers and wipes in the baby’s closet.
  • Line up a babysitter. The evening routine, in my opinion, is the trickiest because everything has to happen all at once. You need to eat, they need to eat, baths, bottles, books and bed all have to happen within a two hour-ish time frame, and everyone needs to get to sleep. That’s hard for one person to manage alone. So one of the nights I was gone one of our babysitters came and helped Jon until Spencer was asleep.
  • Frozen dinnersTerry’s Kitchen and Prep Chefs are my go-to places for frozen meals. (Even though Jon didn’t have much time to eat while I was gone, the freezer has dinner options all of the time!) As a working parent, this is a must. I just don’t know what the day at the office will bring, and knowing that I have something that can cook while kids are fed and pajama-ed is a huge help.
  • Skype and Facetime: Spencer is too little to talk on the phone, but Skype and Facetime are easy even for him to sit in front of so we can, at least, see him. And even though Skype conversations don’t tend to last long with a five-year-old, Mattie and the traveling parent feel better afterward having been able to connect for a little bit, even if it is just virtually.

P.S.: Though in my world three days alone is a long time, I know it’s nothing for many moms. My friends who are single parents or military spouses and manage days, weeks and months on their own are the strongest parents I know!

What are some of your tips for traveling for work and leaving the kids home?

Meg Sacks
Meg is a working mom of four and an avid community volunteer. She has worked in corporate communications and media relations for more than 18 years, for a Fortune 500 company as well as a non-profit. She took some time off to enjoy life as a stay at home mom after the birth of her first child in 2008. Her sweet, introverted daughter, was excited to welcome her baby brother in 2013, and then boy/girl twins joined the family in 2016. Meg finds being an “office mama” a constant balancing act and never-ending challenge but enjoys the opportunities it offers her for personal growth. A Virginia girl at heart, she loves Florida’s warm weather, the great quality of life Jacksonville offers her family.


  1. My husband travels 1-2 nights a week for work. I’m lucky that my kids are now older (11 and 9) and are mostly able to help with getting themselves ready. However, one big tip I use most of the time is to make sure that all the laundry is done and the kid’s school clothes are picked out and ironed BEFORE my husband leaves. He usually gets the kids up, fed, and clothes ready each morning while I get backpacks, lunches, sports/PE clothes packed and get them to their respective schools. However, it’s amazing how much of a kink in the morning that 1 wrinkled shirt can cause!!

  2. I make sure clothes are laid out, lunches pre-packed and i make notecards for each day to highlight important things. It’s still not easy!!!

  3. This tip isn’t as much practical as it is to keep everyone connected: When my hubby was in New Orleans M-F, he started carrying a little Elmo with him a and would snap pictures of Elmo doing fun things in the city. Constant pictures from him to us and us to him kept us connected.

  4. My husband travels weekly and we have very defined roles. I take care of the kids, he takes care of his job. I guess this may seem archaic, but this eliminates any expectations and confusion. So, if he is home and has time, he helps with the kid stuff and that’s fantastic, but if not, no biggie because we just do what we always do.

  5. Great tips Meg! I remember getting up at 5:30am just to have everything done by the time we had to leave for daycare. I would also wait to be in the car to dry my hair, by driving with the window down! Those were the days 😉

  6. Great ideas all, I’ll have to adopt them! Love the Elmo idea, must find something my daughter likes Jon can take with him! and P.S. Isabelle – I dry my hair with the air vents on high in the car every morning!


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