Business Travel and the Working Mom

business travel

As I board a plane this week for a few days of business travel, I can’t help but feel a little anxious.

Any working mom knows it’s always tough to be away from your kids. After all, I want to tuck them in at night, and hear about their days over dinner and dessert.

Still, I know I can handle a few days away from my sons and daughter. They are in good hands, and their schedule will go on as usual. We’ll chat on the phone in the evenings and FaceTime, and my eldest will likely send me a few texts.

If all goes well, I may even be able to sleep past my typical 5:15 a.m. wake-up call since my commute for meetings will be nearby.

So what is causing me the stress over the travel?

Well, I feel a little guilty that my husband will be running solo. Three kids to one parent is a lot of work. He’ll be tasked with the crazy morning prep and drop-offs, the afternoon homework and activities, meals, bedtime, laundry, walking the dog, and let’s face it, I’m sure there will be at least a few sibling spats.

We are a great team when we work together, and we collapse into bed every evening with two of us pulling our weight.

This week he won’t have the support of another parent, and that is huge.

I know there are parents who travel frequently for their jobs, leaving one spouse behind to manage the kids and household, and sometimes that spouse is also working full-time too. It’s the lives we lead these days –  jet-setting, constant technology, and meetings late into the night.

I’m so glad my business travel is limited, because frankly I do not think I could handle it, nor could my spouse. You do what you have to do, but if it is up to me, the business trips will be few and far between.

We’ll survive. My husband will rock, I’m sure. But I can’t wait to get back home so we can rejoin forces and give each other the support we both need. Sure, we will still be outnumbered, but a three to two ratio is much better than three to one.

Do you or your spouse travel for work? How does it impact your household and do you have any tips?

Her Juggle: Katie Sluiter

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Who doesn’t love a great teacher, right? I’m married to one, and both my sister and mom teach. And let me tell you, whoever says teachers have a cake job do not have any idea of what’s involved in this line of work. With that said, I am so excited to feature Katie Sluiter in this week’s “Her Juggle” – teacher, mom and blogger extraordinaire. As you’ll see in her responses, she is extremely dedicated to her students and family, and she works non-stop! Oh, and Katie is also a social media maven, so I’d encourage you to follow her on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest and Sluiter Nation.

Tell us what you do for a living.

I am a high school English teacher who writes on the side.

How many kids do you have? Ages?

I have two boys: Eddie, who is almost five, and Charlie, who just turned two.

Explain your average morning.

During the week my alarm goes off at 5:15 a.m. The plan is to be up by 5:30 a.m., but that rarely happens. School starts at 7:30 a.m. and I have a 40-minute commute, so I am off by 6:45 a.m., leaving my husband to get the boys ready and off to daycare before he goes to work.

Give us a glimpse into your daily “juggle.” Do you work in an office or at home? Do you connect with your kids throughout the day?

Since I’m a teacher, I don’t work in an office or at home. I work in a classroom with teenagers. I am not able to talk to my own kids throughout the day, but that’s OK because they are so busy!

How does your family keep track of schedules and activities?

Personally, I have a lesson plan book AND a traditional paper planner that I use for school and for my writing deadlines. As a family, we keep all of our appointments and schedule stuff that affects the rest of the family on a family calendar in Cozi.

Describe your dream schedule?

I don’t have any complaints about my schedule; I just wish I had more time in a day. I am involved in teaching things from 7:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. at least every day. Rarely do I leave work with everything “done”. I take work home and come in on the weekends to get everything complete. This means I’m sacrificing time with my family, or time for writing, somewhere. I don’t mind the schedule; I just wish there were a couple more hours in each day to get everything done, and still have free time left over.

How do you use your time at night once the kids are asleep?

I should use my time to work, and sometimes I do. I can usually get some writing done, but then, I am so tired that I read or watch an hour or so of TV and then go to bed.

What is the best thing about being a working mom? Hardest thing?

I think the best part about being a working mom is my job. I love it. I was born to teach. I was created to push myself (and others) toward learning. I think being in education helps me in the parenting department too. I know my love of reading and writing is already starting to rub off onto my boys. I also think getting out of the house and giving myself to others all day helps me be more present for my own family too.

The hardest part is being away, especially this time of year. May is the craziest month of the whole school year with trips and graduation and grades needing to be finalized. I end up spending quite a bit of time away from my family and that is hard. I miss them and I know they miss me too.

How do you relieve stress or carve out “me” time?

My husband is awesome in helping me get some time to myself. We take turns with bedtime duty, so that at least twice a week I can be “free” by 7:30 p.m. I usually use the time to read because that helps me disconnect from all the other things in my day.

When we have breaks from school, my boys still go to daycare one day a week so that I have a day completely to myself. Sometimes I use it to run errands or clean. Some days, especially in the summer, I use that time to sit outside under a tree with a book and a tall glass of lemonade!

Share a treasured tip you’ve received from another mom.

One of the most important things I have learned is to be present. No matter what else is going on, when I am with my family I need to be with my family. Not on my phone, not nose in a book, not checking my laptop. I need to be in the chair with my two-year old, or on the floor with my four-year old, or looking at my husband when he is talking to me. This has been invaluable to my emotional health.

The other thing is to say, “I love you” any time you think it … which is hopefully often.

Last great book you’ve read:

I am currently almost done with 11/22/63 by Stephen King. It’s the No. 1 reason why I am tired every day; I stay up way too late reading!

Your Working Mama Theme Song Would Be …

“For Those About To Rock” by AC/DC

My greatest guilty pleasure:

Books. I buy so many of them. If I could get paid per book I read (and not have to do anything else, just read the book), I would be a bazillionare.

Are you a working mom who would like share your “juggle?”

Message me on Facebook or send me an email at breadwinningmama@gmail.com.

I’d love to share your story!

 

Baby Smiles and My Financial A-ha Moment

family finances2My husband and I had been married for almost four years before we had our first serious financial A-ha moment.

We had already bought a house, paid off our student loans and were socking away a small stash into our respective retirement accounts. If I had to compare ourselves to most young couples, I would say were doing pretty well. Hell, I think we were rocking it!

But things got serious when we brought our first son into the world. He was handsome and sweet and perfect in every way. And as we gazed into his big brown eyes and became mesmerized by his dimples, we both knew we wanted to do everything possible to protect him and give him the best life possible.

So we met with a financial planner.

The idea of meeting with a finance geek both delighted and scared the crap out of me. Anyone who knows me understands I am a total planner, but I was worried about what we would hear.

  • Were we saving enough?
  • Did we have major gaps in our portfolio?
  • Would we be able to pay for all of the needs of our son, and avoid living paycheck-to-paycheck? After all, kids are EXPENSIVE!

Before our big meeting, we were tasked with pulling together a number of documents for the planner to review – pay stubs, retirement account options and returns, savings account details, insurance policies and beyond. We additionally filled out a questionnaire about our feelings regarding financial risk, our short-term and near-term goals, our desires for life post-retirement, and the financial situation we wanted to create for our kids.

It was heavy stuff to address, but we ticked off each to-do and eventually met face-to-face with the planner.

As we talked about our situation, the financial planner assured us he was there to look at our desired goals and help us create options and scenarios for us to meet that vision.

With the birth of our son and a relatively new mortgage, we realized we immediately needed to increase our life insurance policies and create a Living Trust. We also started to discuss college plans –and how we felt about saving for our son and the kids to come. Were we trying to save enough to send junior to the Ivy Leagues with 100% coverage, or did we want to have enough for a solid state university? Or did we want our kids to pay for some of their college education themselves?

The great thing about these conversations is that there really weren’t any wrong responses. We simply needed to know where we wanted to go, and the planner helped us do the math and run the scenarios.

It took some time to get everything in place, but we did it. And after we created our plan, my husband and I both felt so much relief. Yes, we had some BIG goals, but now we know what we need to do to make progress. There was no more guessing or hoping or dreaming. There will always be variables that can impact our numbers and savings goals, but that is why we created options and different scenarios.

And getting that Living Trust in place was HUGE. It forced us to have the difficult conversations around guardianship for our kids, in the event something happened to us, and define medical wishes for ourselves.

As I fast forward to present day, I’m really proud of my husband and me for taking this big step on our financial journey together. It was scary, but now I feel like our little team has a playbook, and while it might need some tweaking from time to time, we are focused and at-peace with the decisions we are making every month.

Have you had a significant A-ha financial moment on your life journey? Please share.

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And with it being Financial Literacy Month, I’d encourage you to check out some other great posts on financial A-ha moments at the online Financial Literacy Carnival, sponsored by Shannon Ryan at The Heavy Purse.

Her Juggle: Adrienne Hedger

Hedger at Desk

This week I am excited to feature a good friend who is amazingly funny and talented on “Her Juggle.” Adrienne Hedger has a super cool job – and she is one of my working girl idols since she has successfully managed to merge passion with career. You’ve likely seen her work around the web at NickMom - I know I’ve related to a number of pieces, and laughed out loud wondering if she has a spy camera in my home to garner inspiration for the craziness us moms face. Check out Adrienne’s work here and follow her on Twitter and Facebook.

Tell us what you do for a living.

I’m a writer and cartoonist. My work is a mix of comics (about parenting), greeting cards, books, and writing/illustration assignments for corporations. [Read more...]

Working Moms and Lack of Sleep: Got a Solution?

working momsThey say the sleep gets better after those newborn years. I hate to tell you, but those people lie!

Yes, there are no more midnight feedings, random cry-fests, or toddler night terrors.

But sleep? Don’t expect to get the recommended eight hours very often. [Read more...]

Her Juggle: Jess H.

Her JuggleMeet Jess. This working mom has a full schedule, juggling life as an attorney and a mom to a young toddler. Take a glimpse into her average day and you’ll quickly see she is non-stop, even finding hidden moments to dabble in some very cool side projects and passions in home restoration.

Tell us what you do for a living.

I’m an attorney.

How many kids do you have? Ages?

I have one child, a 21-month-old.

Explain your average morning. [Read more...]

A Chance to Help a Bereaved Mother

mother's day bereavementEvery night, as I lie in bed, I thank God for the beautiful, healthy children sleeping just down the hall. I had easy pregnancies, relatively easy labors and now all three kids are thriving, growing so fast, morphing into unique individuals with special gifts.

If only it could be that simple for every woman … [Read more...]

What is it With Three?

IMG_1318Maybe I blacked them out, but I don’t recall the terrible twos as so terrible. Sure, there was the potty training and the occasional battle to nap. But the threes … well, let me just say I have a few expletives I’d associate with the threes.

I’m no rookie mom. I have two older boys. And I can vividly remember people commenting, ”Boys are tougher when they’re younger. Girls are more challenging when they’re older.”

Really? I beg to differ.

Since my daughter has turned three, she has proven to be wicked smart and persistently stubborn.

  • She screams louder.
  • She cries for longer stretches.
  • Her vocabulary has exploded, yet she refuses to “use her words” when she is frustrated.
  • She’s quick to unbuckle her car seat, while we drive.
  • She says “NO!” ALL. THE. TIME.
  • Her diet is horrendous – on most evenings she demands cheese, nothing more.
  • She argues about her clothes.
  • And she wanders the aisles of stores, making me bolt into a sprint to catch her.

I imagine this all sounds like pretty typical three-year-old behavior, but I swear she is so much more intense than my boys.

I find myself counting the days until she turns four, as if that magical birthdate will transform her into an easier child.

But yet, I know I shouldn’t wish away the threes. Before I know it, she’ll march off to elementary school. The princess obsession will disappear. And maybe, just maybe, she’ll wish to wear more than the color pink. [Read more...]

Her Juggle: Christina Fowler

 

I feel like Christina and I are living parallel lives. My boys are the same ages as her children, so we can both relate to the daily grind of homework and after-school activities, and of course logging back on in the wee hours of the night to tackle more work. Go, go, go! Learn more about how she manages family, career and more - and definitely check out her favorite mom tip. It’s pure awesome – I couldn’t agree more!

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Tell us what you do for a living. 

Outside of the home, I work as a full-time Marketing Manager for a non-profit.  I have worked at this non-profit since way back when I was still “young.”  In fact, my office family has seen me marry and bring two children into this world. They’ve become my second family.  They also “get-it” and give me the flexibility I need to juggle both work and home.

I am also a blogger, social media/marketing consultant and the Vice President of the PTO at my children’s school. AND last but not least, I am a swim and soccer taxi. ;-) [Read more...]

When Did The Holidays Get So Insane?

holidaysGrowing up in my childhood home, there was Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter. Let’s call them the “majors.” Those were the biggies to celebrate as a family, and we enjoyed the traditional festivities that went with them. Trick-or-treating, pumpkin carving, turkeys, presents and Easter baskets. The basics, right?

Fast forward to present day, and it seems as if those “basics” are really only scratching the surface when it comes to celebrating the holidays with kids. Now we need to do “Elf on the Shelf” and leprechaun traps and full-on breakfast spreads that look like they came straight out of a Martha Stewart magazine. [Read more...]