My mum tells me how lucky I am to have a job which I can come home on time on most days and do not need to travel. Although that usually equates to not being a high flyer or high frequency flyer, I am thankful for my job that gives me the precious time I need with my kids. So, when my boss told me to travel on business, my first thought goes to my kids at home. Who’s going to take care of them? What will happen to them when I am away? How will my kids take it that I am away? How shall I tell them about this without tears pouring over little sulking faces?

You must be thinking what’s the BIG deal about this? Isn’t this just a case of kiss on both cheeks and kids happily wave goodbye while the mother lugs the baggage behind her, striding out in a cool manner?? Well, my kids are actually very close to me, so much that “sticky” would be the right word. It’s almost taken for granted I’ll be home every night and be the one to kiss them good night. It’s a deep-rooted routine that I play with them, eat with them, “party” with them (drinking milk and eating snacks before bedtime) and read to them every evening.  Of course, I had travelled without them in the past, going on company’s incentive trips, 1 girls’ holiday trip and a couple of honeymoon trips with my hubby. But those were the days when my children were young, like during baby and toddler days. Travelling without your kids when they were that little was relatively easy. They were not time conscious and did not feel your absence so strongly.

Now, I have 3 kids.  My baby may feel my absence but probably forgets his mummy the moment someone entertains him.  My boy, 6 years old, has never felt my absence since the last time I travelled without him was when he was a toddler.  Hence, he probably doesn’t know how it feels without me around.  My girl, 8 years old, is the one who will pour out when she knows about this.  When I was young, I hated it whenever my mum had to run errands and leave me in the house, even if it was for only a couple of hours.  I hated loneliness and was so used to my stay-home mum in the house.  I love her company very much.  Even though I may be just doing my own work and not necessary talking to her, I loved her presence at home.  XX takes after me in this.  Recently, there was a dinner that I had to attend after work which I came home to change and went out of the house around 8pm.  XX pulled a long face and then cried when I was leaving the house.  She didn’t want me to go out.  So, I know she will be most affected by my absence.

One day, my mum came over and asked me about the business trip, XX heard it and guess what was her reaction? She jumped up and down and exclaimed,” Yeah, I can watch TV the whole day! I do not need to do my assessment books!” and clapped happily like a little girl.  Indeed she is a little girl.  The next moment, she went all quiet.  I could tell that she was holding back her tears.  Then, she ran inside her room and cried.  Poor XX.

So, I wonder, how do mums actually go on business trips? My sister-in-law used to travel very often.  She always had to leave secretly while the younger kids are in the room or asleep.  There was once her eldest daughter pulled her luggage and stopped her from leaving the house.  It was all teary and it must be painful for both of them.  I could understand how my sister-in-law must have felt at that moment.

I have thought long and hard about this.  These are the list of things that I intend to do to lessen the heartache:

Before the trip:

– I will talk to my kids about where I am going and show them the destinations on the globe.  This will let them have an idea of where I will be and how far I am away from them.  It will probably appear a short distance to them on the globe, which can be easily measured within a palm’s length. This may help to re-assure them that I am quite “near”.

– I will talk about some facts on the country, e.g. time difference, culture, add in some interesting facts about the way of life and what the children in that country do. I will explore the internet together with them to check out the place.

– I shall let them help to pack my luggage.  They can decide on something that they wish for me to bring along.  This could be a favourite toy or a book or a necklace. It will be comforting for them to know that their mummy is carrying a part of them with her.

During the trip:

– I will ask each of them to write me a daily note for as many days as I am away.  Similarly, I will write mine for each of them. This will be something that they can look forward to: reading my heart-felt notes.

– I shall call back daily and arrange video calls if time difference allows.  Seeing my face daily will make the days more bearable.

– I will definitely get something during the trip for them.  I am sure they will look forward to this one.

– I will plan some interesting activities for them at home while waiting for my return.  Kel may have to help coordinate this with the kids.

I hope with the above, I can comfort the little souls and put back some smiles back on their faces.

So the saying goes, absence makes the heart grow fonder. Maybe it might be better for a short absence where things at home may be different from what I have been doing. Who knows, they may even enjoy being with their Papa and have late nights, lots of sweets and long ipad – bonding sessions with Papa. And here are their drawings for me before my trip. I may be worrying for nothing after all.

Any mums out there who travel often on business trips? Do you find difficulty travelling without your kids? How do you cope with that?