How to Balance Business Travel as a Mom

business travel

“Just wait until you become a mom.”

Critics thought it premature for me to have and voice opinions about stay-at-home parenting before becoming a mother. Indeed, midway through my pregnancy I shared several reasons why, in our family, quitting work to become the primary caretaker of our yet-to-be born son was far from ideal.

My opinions caused quite the stir, with more than 200 readers weighing in. Some agreed with my choice while others described my views as shortsighted. “It's almost hilarious that you are writing this before your child is born,” balked one reader. “Her perspective might change a lot once her child is born,” said another.

Maybe I did jump the gun. Who knew how I would approach running my business once motherhood arrived?

Fast forward to today.

Today I am a mother. I have discovered an entirely new and powerful and unconditional kind of love. I know well what it’s like to hold your baby and wish to never let go.

Yet I still, with even more conviction, stand by my views. Being an entrepreneur is an immeasurable part of my livelihood and, equally as critical, a major source of financial security and freedom for my family, which now includes a child. It’s not something I want to or can forfeit easily.

And it’s hard, especially as a working mom with a demanding travel schedule. Over the last few months I’ve gone away six times. The most difficult trip was when my son was just three months old and I left for a full five nights and six days.  

The weeks and days leading up to that extended time away were filled with self-doubt over whether I was being “fair” to my son. I worried about whether he would even remember me when I got back home (the answer is yes, silly.) And I experienced the inevitable guilt over feeling like a selfish mom who was putting her career over her family’s well-being (also silly). Oh, and there was weeping. Ugly middle-of-the-night weeping.

As a working mom who travels, I guessed this was par for the course.

Or was it?

After that weeklong trip, I thought about my pace. Should I slow down? Was all this travel and emotional roller coastering eventually going to break me? Make me resentful?

I didn’t care to find out. Instead, I remembered that I was self-employed and had the ability to create my own schedule and work standards. Why not take advantage of the inherent flexibility that comes with running your own business?

Back from that weeklong trip, I created a few personal rules for future work-related travel:

  • Rule #1: Trips will be limited to no more than one night away.
  • Rule #2: Work events that require overnight travel MUST be paid opportunities. And very well-paid at that. (Becoming a mom has upped my negotiating tactics!)
  • Rule #3: If I absolutely can’t turn back home in 24 hours from a business trip, then I will take my son with me and arrange for my mom to meet us and watch after my son. My husband can come, too. Family trip!

I’m happy to say that I’ve recently implemented all the above rules successfully. Doing so has helped me feel more grounded as a mother and more conscious and deliberate as a businesswoman.

I’ve actually had to enact my last-resort rule — rule #3 — twice in the past couple of months. A new partnership has had me flying across the country to San Francisco often. For this, our family packs up and travels together. My husband works out of his company’s West Coast office. And, fortunately, my parents live in the Bay Area, so they’re able to watch our son, who will have racked up some 20,000 airline miles before his six-month birthday.  

We’re very lucky. Rule #3 is hardly cheap, since flying with the whole family isn’t entirely reimbursable. We feel grateful and fortunate to be able to afford this luxury.

Of course, flying as a family when work calls is only a temporary fix. As our son gets older and enrolls in school full-time we’ll need to revise this rule. By then, though, maybe I’ll have restructured my business to better accommodate our needs as a family. We’ll see. For now my travel parameters are allowing mom and baby to stay happier and closer, as it should be.  

Farnoosh Torabi is the author of the award-winning book, When She Makes More: 10 Rules for Breadwinning Women. Click here to receive the book’s complete introduction for free.

This piece originally appeared on DailyWorth in March 2015.

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