I’m up in San Francisco for three days where I presented on educational games at the annual California Association of Bilingual Education conference – and left all three of my kids at home. It’s a change as I was really fortunate to be able to travel with my baby for the first year of his life (which I recognize is a luxury). But since he’s turned 1, now if I’m only gone for a couple of days, he will be staying home with his sisters.
In many ways, it is easier to travel for work sans baby. The juggle between getting a hotel sitter, flying around the country with a lap infant, running back to feed him or pump (I promise a post on business travel + babies in the future) can be draining when it’s top of meetings, presentations, dinners and various professional commitments.
I get A LOT more work done when I’m on the road on my own. When I come back from the aforementioned meetings/presentations/etc., I can go through the emails, write awesome blogs and catch up on the various things back at the office that need my attention. Even if you have a hotel sitter, it’s not every waking moment – and in those sitter-less moments, you are left in a small square of a room with a tiny human who is looking for every possible way to destroy it. You might be thinking “Hotels are often relatively sparse. How much stuff is there to get into in a hotel room?” There’s a lot. Once they can crawl, babies develop this destructo radar that basically zooms them in on any and everything thing that can mess up (extra point awarded for breaking) within 5 seconds of walking into a room.
And I’m not going to lie – there’s something to be said for being able to just eat your food when dinner comes without having to cut and blow on and pour copious amounts of ketchup for someone else first. Or taking a shower without someone knocking on the door about something that could totally wait 3 minutes.
But ultimately as much as they are exhausting (and make no mistakes kids are EXHAUSTING), I miss them a lot when I’m away. And that is far from easy.
On the average night at home, I think, “If only to sleep in a bed with a little bit of space where I don’t have to worry about a heel connecting with my windpipe multiple times a night…” If you recorded them through the night, my children are little spiraling hurricanes — literally rotating full 360s throughout the night. Their preferred sleeping position is parallel to the width of the bed. So I rearrange them, try to wedge myself into my own bed like a puzzle piece and I spend the entire night doing combat defense while asleep, but rarely so deep asleep that I let my guard down. Night after night, it’s: Block this arm from smacking me in the face. Stop that leg from hitting her sister. Pulling this one back before he rolls off the bed.
Yes, my children all have beds, but even when they start out there, they inevitably make their way into my bed throughout the course of the night. My husband slips away to the couch or the bottom bunk of the bunk beds – which I contend is the better deals as it’s far more spacious than a queen-size mattress when you have three small children sardined in there with you.
Yet, as I’m laying here writing this – stretched out in a king-sized bed with no one repeatedly calling “Mom. Mom. Mom. Mom. Mom.” from the other room – I’m debating if I should bring my oldest with me on one of my upcoming trips. She might be a good middle ground – less stress than traveling with a baby, more work than traveling by myself. But that comes with its own logistics of avoiding missing school, she’d still need a sitter because she’s too young to stay in the room by herself and on and on.
But no decision needs to be made at the moment, so I guess I’ll just sleep on it. Here in this giant bed where no one will sleep-kick me in the throat.
I could have written this myself! We live such similar lives. The juggle and struggles are real, but I sure do miss those tiny humans when I am away.