Can mums really travel without kids?

My mum tells me how lucky I am to have a job which I can come home on time on most days and do not need to travel. Although that usually equates to not being a high flyer or high frequency flyer, I am thankful for my job that gives me the precious time I need with my kids. So, when my boss told me to travel on business, my first thought goes to my kids at home. Who’s going to take care of them? What will happen to them when I am away? How will my kids take it that I am away? How shall I tell them about this without tears pouring over little sulking faces?

You must be thinking what’s the BIG deal about this? Isn’t this just a case of kiss on both cheeks and kids happily wave goodbye while the mother lugs the baggage behind her, striding out in a cool manner?? Well, my kids are actually very close to me, so much that “sticky” would be the right word. It’s almost taken for granted I’ll be home every night and be the one to kiss them good night. It’s a deep-rooted routine that I play with them, eat with them, “party” with them (drinking milk and eating snacks before bedtime) and read to them every evening.  Of course, I had travelled without them in the past, going on company’s incentive trips, 1 girls’ holiday trip and a couple of honeymoon trips with my hubby. But those were the days when my children were young, like during baby and toddler days. Travelling without your kids when they were that little was relatively easy. They were not time conscious and did not feel your absence so strongly.

Now, I have 3 kids.  My baby may feel my absence but probably forgets his mummy the moment someone entertains him.  My boy, 6 years old, has never felt my absence since the last time I travelled without him was when he was a toddler.  Hence, he probably doesn’t know how it feels without me around.  My girl, 8 years old, is the one who will pour out when she knows about this.  When I was young, I hated it whenever my mum had to run errands and leave me in the house, even if it was for only a couple of hours.  I hated loneliness and was so used to my stay-home mum in the house.  I love her company very much.  Even though I may be just doing my own work and not necessary talking to her, I loved her presence at home.  XX takes after me in this.  Recently, there was a dinner that I had to attend after work which I came home to change and went out of the house around 8pm.  XX pulled a long face and then cried when I was leaving the house.  She didn’t want me to go out.  So, I know she will be most affected by my absence.

One day, my mum came over and asked me about the business trip, XX heard it and guess what was her reaction? She jumped up and down and exclaimed,” Yeah, I can watch TV the whole day! I do not need to do my assessment books!” and clapped happily like a little girl.  Indeed she is a little girl.  The next moment, she went all quiet.  I could tell that she was holding back her tears.  Then, she ran inside her room and cried.  Poor XX.

So, I wonder, how do mums actually go on business trips? My sister-in-law used to travel very often.  She always had to leave secretly while the younger kids are in the room or asleep.  There was once her eldest daughter pulled her luggage and stopped her from leaving the house.  It was all teary and it must be painful for both of them.  I could understand how my sister-in-law must have felt at that moment.

I have thought long and hard about this.  These are the list of things that I intend to do to lessen the heartache:

Before the trip:

– I will talk to my kids about where I am going and show them the destinations on the globe.  This will let them have an idea of where I will be and how far I am away from them.  It will probably appear a short distance to them on the globe, which can be easily measured within a palm’s length. This may help to re-assure them that I am quite “near”.

– I will talk about some facts on the country, e.g. time difference, culture, add in some interesting facts about the way of life and what the children in that country do. I will explore the internet together with them to check out the place.

– I shall let them help to pack my luggage.  They can decide on something that they wish for me to bring along.  This could be a favourite toy or a book or a necklace. It will be comforting for them to know that their mummy is carrying a part of them with her.

During the trip:

– I will ask each of them to write me a daily note for as many days as I am away.  Similarly, I will write mine for each of them. This will be something that they can look forward to: reading my heart-felt notes.

– I shall call back daily and arrange video calls if time difference allows.  Seeing my face daily will make the days more bearable.

– I will definitely get something during the trip for them.  I am sure they will look forward to this one.

– I will plan some interesting activities for them at home while waiting for my return.  Kel may have to help coordinate this with the kids.

I hope with the above, I can comfort the little souls and put back some smiles back on their faces.

So the saying goes, absence makes the heart grow fonder. Maybe it might be better for a short absence where things at home may be different from what I have been doing. Who knows, they may even enjoy being with their Papa and have late nights, lots of sweets and long ipad – bonding sessions with Papa. And here are their drawings for me before my trip. I may be worrying for nothing after all.

Any mums out there who travel often on business trips? Do you find difficulty travelling without your kids? How do you cope with that?

14 thoughts on “Can mums really travel without kids?

  1. I’ll honestly admit that traveling and leaving my son behind never gave me that much angst. It is a fact of life and my job that there will be one week during the summer that I’m gone along with smaller random trips the rest of the year. I’m a single mom so he would usually stay with his grandparents when I left, sometimes he stayed with a family friend that was also his babysitter for several years. He could call whenever he wanted and at the end of the day if he hadn’t called, I’d call him. Never dawned on me to be worried as it was always fun to do something new and he got to do different things since I wasn’t there!

    • You are right! I think kids being kids will end up totally fine. Maybe if I always bring back gifts from business trips, they’ll look forward to many more such trips so that they have presents! Thanks for sharing your experience! I need to hear advice from mums who travel. You gave me some confidence in leaving them behind.

  2. I’ve only done one trip and it was earlier this year (and my kids are younger… funny, I imagined it getting easier as they got older, but now I think I may be wrong about that…). I did some of the things you mention, like trying to make daily contact etc, but I think my big tricks were 1) Dad takes time off work – exciting!! and 2) Grandma flies in – exciting!! and between the two they were fine. But this is not necessarily a workable solution for you 🙂

    I’m sure they’ll be ok in the end. But it can be sad at the time and you do tend to worry.

    • Thanks B for sharing this! So I am not the only one who is facing such a problem. Yes, I think I may end up the saddest since I will be away from the rest of the family. Hope it turns out well!

  3. Interesting reading! Can’t really comment on business trips without kids as I am only about start work in September 😉 But no, I wouldn’t like to travel all the time but every now and then, why not?

    I guess what makes it easier is the way we parent in the egalitarian Scandinavia: my husband is equally important to our kids, we share the responsibility 50/50 (well, until now when he has not been at work. Starting from September I’ll be working fulltime, he’ll go down to the legal 80% of working time as part-time parental leave, that is, stays home with kids one day a week), we take turns in putting kids to bed etc. We also have a deal with one night off per week to do whatever we want, and the other one looks after the kids then. And have boys/ girls weekends. I don’t think I’ve been more than one night away from my kids in one go though. I love being with them 🙂

    I wonder if the thought about who it is going to be hardest on as per the age is also culturally influenced? As I think it is harder the smaller the kids are to be apart *because* they don’t understand time, the only thing is that they can not say it yet. Isn’t it funny how differently we can interpret the same matter?! 🙂 Older kids can express their sorrow and longing, which in my mind is good: they deal with it (what and how to express feelings must be partially a cultural thing though too, doesn’t it?). Also, to me it means you feel safe in the relationship when you can express such negative feelings – you have to have a good bond with your daughter!

    Have to say your thoughts on making it easier sound very sound to me – regardless of the culture 😉

    • I really love Finland and must tell you Finland is a model for Singapore in many aspects! We are currently learning the Finnish way of educating the young in school, trying to emphasize less examination and more of learning through play. And we look to Finnish system of maternity leave, paternity leave and most of us here envy your long parental leave and how the whole culture appreciates parenting as a noble job that requires much attention. Your sharing here have me green with envy. In Singapore, the trend is catching on with more involved dads too. But for organizations here, it is gearing towards work-life balance but I doubt as an Asian country, it will ever reach Finland standards. It’s just how Asian people are especially Chinese.

      It’s interesting to read that your interpretation of younger children felt it harder if the mummy travels! I agree with you from another perspective here. And yes, my daughter bonds strongly with me, and I really enjoy the bond with all my children. We are like-minded parents and seriously, I always enjoy your comments on my posts and love hearing about how things go in Finland! Thank you so much for sharing!

      • Haha, some things here are great (like long maternity – or paternity – leaves), but then there are many things to develop, and I won’t get started on the theme 😉 Funny though, the really hot thing in the debate at the moment here is how to tackle the high unemployment rate among youth, and many are saying that we need to learn from Singapore in this matter. In the matter of fact, there is right now (or just was) some delegation there to learn about it. Hopefully they come up with something that can be implemented sooooon 🙂 Btw, I really enjoyed reading about your thoughts here, raised many thoughts I’ve never been aware of. Let’s see when my first work trip comes what I really think 😉

      • And guess what? We also sent some delegates to find out about the education system in Finland! I am glad Singapore does have her model structure to be explored and followed.

    • I also liked your approach. And communicating with the children about what is happening counts a lot. I liked that about the post: one of the “solutions” is to talk about what other children must be doing in the foreign country. Easier to relate to things as such. It is sure different than “sneaking out”. 🙂

      • Thanks! I really hope my “solutions” help. I’ll know very soon! And you are right, it’s better than sneaking out and the kids may find it harder to manage.

  4. I like the list of ways you came up with to help your children cope with the idea of you being away on a business trip! I’m sure it’s going to be tough for both you and your kids, and hopefully, they’ll treasure their time with you even more. 🙂

  5. Pingback: My first business trip – thoughts on the plane | Kids "R" Simple

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