Work, Travel, Toddler: Does it mix well?
I have been open with my recent challenges, juggling a full-time working from home routine with our recent child. One of the more stressful juggles has been the travel. With my organization's 60 staff spread nationwide, we get together for a big staff meeting at one location every 6 months.
One year ago, it was New York. Lucky for me, we have family there. It was the perfect opportunity for my in-laws to meet our newest baby, who was about 4.5 months old then.
Last fall, it was in Seattle. I felt lucky to have it so close, as I worked with another mama to make a trip of a lifetime: two mamas, two toddlers, full-day schedules, one nanny, one two-bedroom apartment (that is an epic story for another time).
There have been a few other overnights mixed in: Oakland, Tucson, San Francisco. These are places where I have had some extended family or friends who could watch the babe for a bit while I focus on work.
Next week, it's Memphis. Not only do I think about the challenge of two-legged flight cross country, with a center seat assignment on all legs (will he be entertained and generally still in that center seat?), I also think about how much less portable this babe is, as small as he is. As baby grows into toddler, I am wondering when I should draw the line? My previous children nursed until 2.5 years old. Am I destined to be traveling for work with this child for another year if we intend to nurse until then? Part of me is not ready to be away from him, not for a whole night. I wasn't ready to be apart from him when he was 9 months old, and I'm not sure I am ready now. Another part of me worries that I just cannot juggle it like I used to, now that he likes to bounce balls, clank spoons on tables, and draw on everything. I can't just tote him into the meetings, nurse him, bounce him to sleep in a carrier, and continue to focus on the meeting at hand.
Part of me worries still about trying to nourish him at all times, nursing on demand every moment possible and feeding him high-calorie foods to bulk him up. I could not do that if we were apart for 4 days.
I know my situation is very unique. I bring my baby to meetings all around the country. I like to see just how "family-friendly" the organization really is. And, managers are tolerant and accepting of my choice. Dare I make the long haul next week? Would you?
Also, have you heard of employers that offer traveling employees an allowance of up to a certain amount (I've heard up to $1500) to cover costs of a sitter out-of-town or the cost to travel with a sitter?