Work Trips – Three Different Experiences From A Working Mother’s Diary

Posted: November 14, 2015
A working mother talks about how she manages her work trips away from home with her daughter.
You are working  in a corporate, in academics or you are an entrepreneur, it is evident that a part of your job is to travel and get exposed to the wider spectrum of people in your field. We are living in a globalized village after all, so we need to connect at national and international levels. Yes, the telephonic conversations, video-conferencing and internet chat are all official now but still ample opportunities arises where you need to get up from your desk and reach out right there, where you have to attend a conference, visit a group, grab some sponsors  or collaborate with others.
Travel has become an unsaid ritual for working classes and masses, no denial on it,  and I am not an exception. In general, I love traveling, I adore breathing different air, tasting new cuisines, seeing new places and meeting new people.  Best would be to travel in holidays, but work tours are also fine with me. The challenge of presenting my work in front of a hall full of people gets compensated by the spread of food and drinks on a conference banquet dinner (specially if the dinner falls after my presentation). So I always felt lucky and happy at any chance to leave my desk and spend some days away from it.
For the first time I felt a little unsure about an opportunity of a work trip, was after my daughter was born. Doing my regular job in the laboratory, coming home and looking after her even with ample help from her dad was becoming a challenge for me those days. Any add-on option to travel for a conference or summer school became a distant and resistible haze for me. For a couple of years, I kept tossing the idea of traveling away from my schedule by telling myself that I am not that interested in that conference. Luckily being a PhD student at that time, I could escape  any compulsiveness from higher authorities.
But as I said, it is a part and parcel of modern day’s work, and there came one opportunity, where I wanted to attend the conference, my daughter was a toddler by then,  my spree for traveling and meeting with other people were returning, so I filled up the registration form and so started going to work tours as a working mother.

Clubbed with family holidays

First few times, I went to the conferences as a family. We clubbed our family holidays with the conference schedule. We avoided staying at conference hotels, lived in holiday apartments and after attending the conference for the whole day, I was able to spend my evenings (ditching the conference dinner) with the family. I found out what I was missing in last many years as participating in  conferences always provides you with fresh reviews and networking opportunities. We prefer this arrangement whenever there are options for one spouse to go to some offbeat destinations and whenever we could afford to buy the extra tickets and arrange the leaves.

On my own

After a point, I decided to leave my daughter with her dad and went for a job interview and then to a summer school. This was the best arrangement and I think most of the working parents follow this model as the person who is attending can devote full time in the conferences. As it is not a secret that for one to one interactions with other colleagues the evening sessions and dinners are the best times. During these outings, on calling back home I was always pleasantly surprised that both were having a nice time together and were busy doing things their own way. Recently I went for an onsite for one month, and both of them had the best of their time together!

As a Single parent

Then the next case of my work tour was to attend a conference while my husband could not be around  (we were working in different continents at that time) so I took my daughter with me and made an arrangement with a colleague’s wife that she will look after her at hotel when I will be attending the talks. I planned to take her’ with me to the conference  lunches, dinners  and other outings. This arrangement was fine but off course, it was not an easy solution.  My mind was always cluttered and I was wondering whether I was too much of a burden on my colleague’s wife. My daughter enjoyed the time with their kids though, but she was not that happy to attend the lunches and dinners which were for grown ups and very boring for her. She could never understand why so many of grown-ups has to eat so silently with no music at all. I compensated her boredom by letting her shop extra – yes she was a little girl then but she could shop for boots and jackets just like me. Here you go – confessions of a working  mother!

On another instance in the same period I had a chance to visit a scientific group in  a University in another country.  This time, I looked for a day care and I was lucky to find a place in the University day care. This arrangement was for 7 days, the language was different than the 2 languages that my daughter could speak at that point, the day carer assured that they have previously handled such situation. First day we both were quite nervous, but then it went actually very well. My host being a female professor with two kids understood the whole situation and was very helpful. My daughter did very well  and even managed to learn some dutch and make some friends. On her last day in the day care, she got  farewell cards and commented that she would like to come for a visit again! My work went well and we both returned to our nest happily.

This was not at all the  easiest work trip for me with initial struggle to find a full day day-care for my daughter  close  to the work place in an unknown city, but of course I am glad that I opted for it.

After all, a struggle which does not kill you makes you stronger!

So all in all, as a working mother, till now, I have enjoyed most part of the work tours.  Each tour needed more of preparation but the effort goes in it worth the result.

Before each tour I have spent nights with the angst that she  might get sick just before the day of travel (I guess all working mothers go through this). My daughter has initially shown resistance to all the above proposals, but we discussed things out,  and at the end she decided to accept her mum’s desires (needs) and dived into them.
I am glad she did that.

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Cover image via Shutterstock

CP

A science researcher finding ways into broader science careers. A women enthusiast to the core

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