I’ve been traveling a lot for business lately and I am reminded of how important it is to stay connected to our children when we are separated by distance and how lucky we are to have technology that allows us to do so.
On my most recent trip to LA, my son and I took full advantage of Facetime, talking together once, and sometimes twice, a day. It is by no means perfect, and can be difficult to get your child’s attention when you’re not in the same room together (then again, it can be difficult to get their attention when you are in the same room together). But overall, I was so impressed by and appreciative of the way that Facetime helped us to connect while I was so far away.
Having an image and being able to look into someone’s eyes, makes it so much easier to connect with our kids. While it can be hard to have a real conversation over the phone with my son, Facetime helped us to connect with and really listen to each other. For him, at seven, the fact that it was digital and a little techy made it exciting and more fun than holding a phone to his ear.
More than any other time, these business trips have emphasized for me just how much of a role technology plays in keeping us connected and close. So often, parents bemoan technology and the ways it can fragment, or separate and certainly, this can be true, but in this crazy pace of life, we really are fortunate to have this kind of technology in that it can also keep us together.
They Need to Know You Are OK
One thing I have realized as a working mom who travels is that our kids need to know that we are safe and comfortable when we are away from them. My son needs to know that when I leave home I am not just out in the ether. Anything that we can do to help our kids visualize where we are and how we are, anything that provides context for them, helps to ease their minds – and gets them excited about the adventure we are taking, the adventure we are sharing with them as best we can.
My colleague Rebecca sent her daughter daily photos from our set and snapped pictures of the airplane before we boarded all of our flights. All of this helped her daughter to see that mom is not just away from, she is out doing, and she is happy to share that with her.
I Facetimed my son from my hotel room every morning (in spite of the time difference that had me up before 5 am) and took him on a tour so he could see the desk where I was working and the view from my window. He could see what I see and know what I am doing. We could share moments with each other.
We Need to Know They Are OK
The challenges of business travel for working moms are not limited to managing the emotions, and the expectations of our kids. We need to feel anchored to our children, to know that they are safe and well and thriving. Knowing this makes it easier to be fully present in our work. It provides us comfort and security. It is essential to the success of our work.
My son’s annual field day was held while I was away and I was struggling a bit, knowing I would miss it. But his dad shot video of him jumping hurdles and playing with his friends and sent them to me. He recorded my son’s messages to me. I cherished all of it.
The videos made me feel connected and helped me to feel confident that, no matter what, my son and I share a bond. And that I can still celebrate in his joys, even when I’m not right there on the sidelines.