As a perk of my job (though not everyone thinks of it this way) I usually get to travel a few times a year to Boston. I occasionally bring a child with me (if I can find a grandparent or aunt who can come up for the week and take care of the wee one) but this trip I knew would be extremely busy so I left them at home with my husband to fend for them. Also since I was traveling with my co-workers, instead of doing my brutal red-eye in 6pm flight out 3 days later, I joined my colleagues and used Monday and Friday to travel.
A few weeks ago I lamented about the difference between travel post kids and pre kids, so with that fresh on my mind, I got a chance to relive a little of my pre-kids travel days. Sadly my busy work schedule only allowed me one evening out to myself (which I choose to spend with a wonderful cousin and his boyfriend who live in East Boston). Still, traveling without the husband and kiddos just before our big trip to Argentina gave me some perspective on the differences.
- Productivity: Taking the time to fly during the day and leaving the kids behind ensured I was well rested to handle the stress of working long days and to concentrate on my job. I can honestly say this feels like the most productive work trip I have ever made.
- Morning Me Time: Waking up at 6 am I could work out, take a nice long hot shower, dress, methodically do my makeup (as opposed to the five minute routine I developed for the on-the-bus-makeup), walk to work and still have plenty of time to buy and eat breakfast before my 8:30 am meeting. Amazing what can be done when you are not getting two other human beings ready before a 40 minute commute.
- Morning Workouts: I had forgotten how much I loved working out first thing in the morning. My son is a super early riser, so to get a workout in before he wakes up would mean getting up at 4 am. When I go to bed close to midnight each night, I just can’t function if I wake up at 4. But when I travel for business I can get a workout in each morning and I love it. Elliptical, Weights, whatever, I have so much more energy throughout the day.
- Stress Free Evening Events: Corporate life always involves evening dinners, drinks, or other events in the name of team building or bonding. Normally I’m always the first to leave, worrying about getting home before the kids go to bed. Here I was able to do dinner with both colleagues and friends without concern about what time I had to get home. To sit back, relax, and just enjoy is a luxury I haven’t had in a while.
- Cousin Bonding Time: I got to spend an entire evening with my cousin and his boyfriend. We had an amazing time eating, talking, laughing and sharing. I know how much they missed and wanted to see the kids, but I also know I would not have been able to stay as late (or drink as much) with my children around. They are long past the age where they will sleep anywhere…
- Shopping for the kids: I always bring back a present. I enjoy hunting down the perfect item that will make them happy. This time I found an ugly as sin (but educational) baby doll for my daughter. For my son, the perfect present came from a coffee/souvenir shop I popped into one morning. There I found a fun children’s book that centers on Boston. It was perfect for my son who was asking all sort of questions as to where Boston was and what was there. I paid way to much but his excitement of hearing about Boston, where his mom spent a week, made it worth it.
- I Missed my Kids, a Lot: I missed the cuddles at night and not being able to hug and kiss them on Skype, especially when my son told me how much he missed me. Traveling during the day meant I missed one more bed time and one more breakfast than I normally do. Hearing my son had spent an entire morning at school complaining that his mom was in Boston broke my heart.
- Empty Bed: For better or worse, we have a pseudo-family bed. At home my son joins us almost every night squeezing me into a tight, uncomfortable position. I was looking forward to the big solo bed, but I missed my husband’s presence and my son’s cuddles. It actually took a lot longer to fall asleep and I kept finding myself waking before the alarm, when I knew my son would have woken me up.
- Unhealthy Food Choices: I’m on a constant diet; food and I have an unhealthy relationship. I have terrible will power, so I was amazed at my one colleague (who is dieting for her wedding) stayed away from wine and make lots of healthy choices. I tried to follow her example, but besides a salad everyday for lunch and egg whites in my breakfast sandwiches instead of whole eggs, I did not make any other healthy choices. Usually by the evening after a full day of meetings my will power was gone. I had wine with each dinner, rich dishes like duck, scallops, and a full fat, creamy New England Clam Chowder that Boston is famous for. And let’s not forget the hotel mini bar with cookies, candy by any register (even if you just intended to buy water), baked goods eyeing you at Au bon pain, the list goes on and on. No one was there to be my vocal conscience and I’m terrible at being my own healthy eating advocate.
- Security Lines and Body Scanners: I am a big user of the family line at any airport. Its always faster and no one is giving you dirty looks if it takes a long time to get stuff on the belt. An added benefit, my children are too young for the body scanners. My husband and I each take a child through the metal detectors, avoiding those terrible body scanner machines which make you feel like a dehumanized criminal every time you step in one. This trip I had to stand in the long cattle class security line, and horrors, actually stand in the body scanner with my hands in the air for 3 seconds. (I refused to do it until they gave the order to start, counted until 3 and dropped them immediately). I hate the feeling of being treated like a common criminal for riding a plane and I dread the day the kids have to do it too.
All in all I’d say it was a successful work trip, a much needed break from the kids, and a nice experience I won’t soon forget. I can always tell how hard a trip it was by my husbands reaction. He had posted on Facebook that he respects the hard work that single parents have to do to take care of their kids by themselves, I knew that he had difficulty managing the kids by himself. While I feel taking travel days were a worthwhile and valuable luxury, it looks like I’m back to my brutal red-eye in, 6 pm flight back or travel with a kid if I want to keep my support unit sane.