Juggling kids and family on a work trip

Ask me if I would bring my kids along on my work trip 4 years ago and you’ll get a resounding NO.  It would be a NO, NO, NO and NO all the way.

But because I have been travelling for work quite a bit in the recent years, with most trips being back to back, the thought of bringing all my living access baggage became a consideration. Still, I wasn’t considering it all too seriously especially since I do not want to foot the additional flight costs at our own expense. It would also be a logistical nightmare, and way far too distracting for me to focus on work; knowing that my kids are “on the loose” somewhere.

So, NO.

Still, it was more of a thought I toyed with for a while, and I would be lying if I say I wasn’t curious what it would like to travel with kids while on a work-trip.

I guess I had a change of heart, especially when my very kind boss has been encouraging and egging me on to bring my family along for every single business trips I have had to go to. I discussed it with Silver Bullet and to my surprised, he was gamed to tag along to mind the kids.

It was the only push I needed to become adventurous, do something I would not normally do or even considered, and go into unchartered waters. And so it was decided – my maiden work trip with the entire family in tow.

And with it, some wisdom, in random order:

1. (note to self) Always, always, always remember to check the passport’s expiry data and make sure that each passport has a validity period of 6 months. Sounds duh! I know, but trust me, things like that DO slip your mind. Thank god for a second passport, or one of my kids would not have been able to travel!

2. The kids have noooo ideeeea how lucky they are to be able to travel so much at such a young age. It’s good for their worldliness, although I feel that I need to remind them that this is not a norm. Trips are earned, and done out of necessity – not a privilege.  ”Normal” kids their age don’t get the chance to travel as much as them. And no, being able to travel does NOT make them special.

3. Research for activities to do with the kids in advance rather than have a “just-wing-it” attitude. At least have an idea of the general direction of where you’ll be heading for the day. Have you ever tried planning AND searching for a place to go there and then, wondering where you should head for the day as the time is ticking away while your little monkeys run amok in a 35 sqm hotel room and tearing down the hallway? Unless you have little angels, I rest my case.

4. Communicating expectations with the kids. Telling them, in advance, several times over that Mummy will not be able to hang out with them for several days. It’s amazing how they stopped asking for me on the 2nd day. Tsk.Tsk.

5. Making time for the family even for half an hour a day during the entire conference period is a must. Even if it means waking up earlier. Although not always possible to have all of our meals together due to work obligation, I made it a point to have breakfast together, just like when we are at home. It reduces my cognitive dissonance for most of my mommy-guilt.

6. Kids will be super-hyper as they are all so excited about everything. They will be bouncing on the beds, onto the tables and off the walls. Let them. Let the husband deal with it. Watch him go crazy. Retreat slowwwly back to the conference room when the need arises.

7. Murphy’s Law applies. When things go wrong, they WILL go wrong. You’ll just need a cool head to deal with it, hoping for the best outcome.

My only gripe about juggling kids and family on a work trip, apart from always wondering what they were up to and if they were giving their Papa a hard time, was that I felt gutted I could not join in their fun. By the time I ended my day and attended to other work obligation meet-ups, they were already in bed and I had missed all the excitement.

In a way, I do feel a little guilty having left my husband all alone with them for several full-days, knowing what a handful they could be. Although, in more ways than one, it beats leaving them back at home when I’m on a back-to-back trip. Going for a work-trip back to my home country also helped as I am familiar with the place. Besides, we were a cab-fare away to my parents.

Would I do it again? Destination dependent and budget permitting, perhaps. Although, considering how knackered my husband was, I doubt he’d consider it again. At least until the kids are a little older.

This post was written by Ann from Grubbs&Critters as a guest blogger entry for TinyExpats. Ann is writing about her multicultural and multinational family (her being a Singaporean with Dutch husband and two kids, growing up in Thailand). Please, visit her blog for more stories about kids, life, travel and food.

P.S. If you have an interesting story to tell about expat kids or travel with kids, get in touch about contributing as a guest blogger!

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