The last couple months have been really crazy for our family. I try not to allow our schedule to get too packed during the weeks and weekends – particularly trying to avoid back-to-back weekends when we are away from the kids or traveling for work, or any number of things. And yet somehow our fall ended up much more chaotic than I had hoped or planned.
It started with me traveling to Nantucket for work for five days, followed by a weekend trip up to Minneapolis for myself and Joe, my birthday weekend, and another trip up north for a wedding. Add in Joe’s busy schedule with work and football coaching, the beginning of my busy season with Beautycounter (holiday collections and events!), Ainsley starting preschool and dance, Collins starting music class and trying to have any semblance of a social life. Well, you get the idea. It’s been busy. And I don’t, in any way, like to glorify the pursuit of busy. Because I think our culture’s obsession with being busy is gross. But somehow we’ve found ourselves in a little bit of an unusually fast-paced schedule as we’ve navigated these new roles, responsibilities, and activities.
During the first 2 years I was with Beautycounter and running my freelance business, I didn’t have many reasons to travel outside of the home. My work could nearly all be done from the computer and comfort of my home office or kitchen. But as my team and business has grown, and other opportunities have come my way through blogging and freelancing, I’ve found there are more and more occasions calling me outside of the home and on the road.
I shared about the tension of work and mom life briefly on Instagram stories the other day, and so many of you expressed that you had similar feelings of push and pull, of loving your babies more than life itself and yet feeling called to embrace and pursue opportunities outside of the home, too. I’m SO thankful that my work is so flexible and allows me to be around for preschool drop-off and pick-up most days and putting dinner on the table at 5:30 most evenings for my crew, but I’m also stepping into different roles. The opportunities that sometimes mean I’m not at preschool drop-off and that take-out pizza is the most viable dinner option. Sometimes it means dad puts the girls to bed while I work or travel occasionally.
While I’m certainly still learning the balance for our family and figuring out how to make it all work, there are a few things that I’ve found which seem to ease the crazy seasons and travel for everyone in our family. Here’s what we’re finding works for our family:
- Make the Plan Clear
Since Ainsley was really little she has always felt more secure knowing what the plan is for our day or days to come. We frequently talk about “the plan” for our days together, and it’s especially important when I’m going to be away for any period of time longer than usual. She always does SO well while I’m gone, but I want to make sure that I do my part to make my travels easier on her.
We talk about who will drop her off and pick her up from preschool, who will be with her at night (dad!) and who will take care of her during the day. Joe usually tells Ainsley how many sleeps it will be until mommy gets back which also seems to help her get a feel for the length of a trip and when she can anticipate mom being gone.
- Anticipate Challenges
It’s always hard for me to leave my crew! Although I’ve found it’s gotten a little easier with more practice and reminding myself why I’m doing what I’m doing. That said, it’s inevitable that there will be challenges, such as lots of tears from Ainsley or that feeling of guilt when I leave or ask Joe to take vacation time for me to be gone. I’m not the type of person who likes to burden others with my needs or ask for special schedules or allowances, so it’s hard for me when I have to do any of those things. But I’m thankful for those around me that push and encourage me when they know how hard it is for me to leave.
- Be Intentional
This is something that I’ve been working on doing a better job of even when I’m not traveling. I’ve realized that it’s so easy to be “with” your kids without really being present, meaning that I’ve found plenty of times when I’m physically around my kids but mentally absent – thinking about my to-do list or checking my phone or just up in my own head. So especially when I have a crazy week or limited time with the girls, I’ve been laser focused on spending time with them in a very intentional and focused way. More play time together, a few extra books at bed, really looking at them and listening to what they are saying, doing less multi-tasking. It helps me to really focus on deep connection when I’m with them and not feel guilty when I’m away or even just off at a coffee shop to work.
This certainly isn’t a comprehensive list, just a few of the big things that come to mind. Of course, I should also add that PLANNING and COMMUNICATING as a family and as a couple is crucial. I’m not necessarily the most organized individual (ha!) but it’s an area I’m working on improving upon out of necessity.
That means very clearly noting who will have the kids when, putting out clothing for school and what Ainsley will bring to show-and-tell while I’m away, and making sure the house is stocked with easy meals, snacks, prepped lunches, etc. While Joe is an exceptionally (emphasis added) capable parent and navigates my absence with such grace, I try my best to make my leave as smooth as possible by being prepared and helping the day-to-day to run well while I’m gone.