Working moms who frequently travel for their jobs

posted 4 months ago in Babies
Post # 2
Member
1257 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: June 2016

My sister and I both work in an industry that requires significant and frequent travel – typically Mon-Thurs every week. 

I’m currently 4 months with my first so can’t speak to post baby but my sister has a 2.5 yr old.

 

She returned to work at 6 months (took 2 months unpaid on top of her 4 months paid maternity). She resumed travel as soon as she started back. She pumped and used a milk delivery service to send back home to be bottlefed to her daughter. She continued to breastfeed when home. (so didn’t switch to exclusive pumping).

I think it was hard on her being away for 4 days of the week every week, and wasn’t helped that her project was CRAZY busy so she was working insane hours while gone and so on weekends all she wanted to do was sleep but then also wanted to be with her child/husband.

But I think it was harder on her husband. He effectively became a single dad during the weekdays. He was solely responsible for daycare pick-up/drop off, coverage in times she couldn’t go to daycare, dinners, packing lunches, laundry (they cloth diapered), groceries, on top of general household chores.

After the first month they got a house cleaner, but otherwise he continued to run the household.

He did have my parents nearby so in a real pinch could call them for help – but that was pretty rare occasions. 

After ~8 months of this my sister stopped traveling, she said it just wasn’t fair to her husband and she didn’t like missing out on so much.

Honestly I think longer spurts away less frequently may be even harder. At least with Mon-Thurs there was a consistent routine that my brother-in-law got in, it would be even harder having your partner disappear more sporadically and having your workload go from zero to 60 overnight. Plus longer stints away is even more time of separation. My sister said that by Thursday she was just dying to hold my niece again and really struggled not going in to wake her up and snuggle her when she’d get home Thurs nights at like 10 PM. 

Most of the upper-level females in our company tend to reposition their careers to be local for a few years while their kids are really young and then resume travel once the kids are a bit older. Also once you hit a certain seniority level the travel is only 2 days a week, so some women  put off kids longer until they hit that point as that’s easier to juggle.

 

ETA: my niece is a pretty solid sleeper and was even when <1 yr old, but even still it was hard on Brother-In-Law to be sole nighttime coverage. The result was that both him and my sister were completely ZONKED on the weekends and too tired to do much. Brother-In-Law also works full time but at a much more stable 40-hr a week job (while my sister’s job can range from 55-80 hrs / week and on that first project back was easily at the top end of that range). 

If my sister had been in a cruisier job during the week she probably could have balanced weekends more easily to give Brother-In-Law the break he needed to recharge.

Post # 3
Member
2794 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: July 2011

I used to travel a lot for work. Like above I could be on a project where I travelled every week tues to thurs. my husband also travels for work, less frequently but further away (international) 

I’m in the UK so had 12 months maternity leave and I stopped breastfeeding when I returned to work so that I could travel easier. As it happened, my projects were all London based so I didn’t need to travel. I’m on maternity leave again now and I’m not returning to work this time. I hated the juggle and me being at home makes us all a lot happier.

my husband still travels (he’s in Oslo as I speak) he finds it hard being away. He misses the kids and he feels guilty that I’m left holding the fort. He has some control over his schedule so he tries to only travel on days our son goes to nursery so that I get a break. He won’t do more than 2 nights and he tries to bunch his travel together. So he’s gone this week and last, but now he’s in town for at least 6 weeks. 

Post # 5
Member
2527 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: September 2018

I think a lot of it will depend on your personal situation as far as how long you travel, how often, and the availability of your husband to basically become a single parent while you’re gone. 

I don’t travel frequently anymore, but when I do travel my husbands job offers him flexibility so he can cover all the duties while i’m gone. I never travel for more than a week at a time though, so it’s never been a huge issue. My husband will occasionally travel for work as well, and then we swap roles. 

Post # 6
Member
9811 posts
Buzzing Beekeeper
  • Wedding: September 2013

I don’t travel for work and I can’t imagine how I could make it work long term being gone half of the week every week.  I would hate it and end up getting a different job.  I actually left my last job for a new one (same type of position) because they are moving to more flexible work from home time (1x a week) than my previous job (rarely able to work from home).  Just not having to get ready or commute makes the day so much easier that day because when both parents work from home full time there is very little downtime during the week as is.  I can’t imagine adding travel to it (where travel is like every week or every other week).  Travel less often like once every other month or once a month is much more doable IMO.  Not sure what your situation is.  It will probably be harder on you than you can imagine right now though.

I will say as a parent whose spouse travels (but rarely for more than 2-3 nights at a time) I often have my mom (she is retired) come stay at my house and that helps tremendously.  So if you have family that can help out or come stay that really does help the person at home.

If breastfeeding, I would require that the company pay for the mailing the milk back home while you are gone.  There are services that will collect it and ship it for you while keeping it cold, etc.

Post # 7
Member
498 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: August 2012

My job can entail travel (2-3 nights every couple of months) but I turned down all travel for the first year/while my son was breastfeeding except for one overnight trip. Pumping in hotel rooms, random offices, cleaning the parts, storing it and keeping it cold until I got back, it was just too much. Even pumping during long days at the office sucked but I at least had my routine and setup there. Plus I was sad already not being with my son during the day, so the idea of leaving him for several days while he was still an infant was really hard. 

The single parent thing is no joke. My husband and I work at the same place and he did keep up his travel, 1-4 nights away per trip. It’s exhausting being the sole parent. You never know what kind of personality your kid will have either- my son has always wanted constant cuddles and attention and even now at 2 he still doesn’t really enjoy playing by himself.

Can you keep your job but just pare down travel for a while? It will be good to have options. What worked for my situation may be completely different from yours 🙂 

Post # 9
Member
428 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: September 2015

I travel 5-6 times a year for work. I have an almost-three-year-old, and am currently on maternity leave with a one-month-old. I typically feel fine about travelling because most trips are 2-4 days, and it’s actually nice to get a break from the daily grind of child-rearing. My husband has to pick up the slack, but I do the same when he’s travelling, and my mom can come help out if needed. I’ve also done trips where we combine vacation with one of my work trips, so husband and baby come with and do their own thing while I’m working and then we get a few days of vacation together afterwards. While I was nursing I would typically just pump while there and bring it home with me, but one trip I didn’t have enough of a freezer stash, so I overnighted milk home (I expensed this). This past fall I had three trips in one month, with the last being an 8-day international/domestic combo, and that was hard. I really missed my babe and felt bad being away for that long. She wasn’t quite old enough to understand FaceTime, so I had to bug my husband to send me photos every day. But she was totally fine; it was harder on me! This coming fall I have another 8-day stretch of potential travel that I haven’t figured out yet. I don’t want to leave the baby for that long, so I’ll either skip the first part of the trip or bring her with me for part/all of the trip. Luckily I can decide when I go back after leave. So in a nutshell, you can definitely make it work, though it might suck at points. But that’s basically parenthood anyway! 

Post # 10
Member
9213 posts
Buzzing Beekeeper

I had to travel for work a couple of times since LO turned 1 and it was really difficult for us, not gonna lie. I was still pumping, but that wasn’t too bad. I stayed at a hotel across the street from our negotiations so that I could run back to my room to pump. I was down to only 3x a day so it wasn’t awful. And I used Milk Stork free through work so I could just overnight send my milk home. So all that was great and probably as easy as it could possibly be.

The hardest part was that it was really hard for dh. He works a demanding job but had to get in late and leave early each day to pick up LO from daycare on time (I usually do pickups and dropoffs). We also have no family around. He’s an amazing hands-on dad and usually does much more than I do for our baby on a daily basis when we’re both around, but doing 100% of it on his own was tough. Especially since LO isn’t an easy baby 😬

That said, if I had a job where I consistently had to travel (or dh did), we would’ve done things differently from the get-go to make that more doable, like hired a nanny or au pair instead of going with daycare, or setup other reliable backup childcare. There are definitely things you can do to set yourself up for success if you know this is the kind of life your family will have to lead for awhile.

Post # 11
Member
7002 posts
Busy Beekeeper
  • Wedding: September 2012

I travel a few times a year for work, and I my Darling Husband travels at least half the year (if not more) for work. Most of his travel is international and can range from 5-12 days at at time for up to 2 months at a time. 

There are plenty of women out there (including myself) who exclusively pumped for all sorts of reasons. Because of that it honestly didn’t matter if I was pumping at work locally or while traveling – although travel does add some logistics to it like transporting the pumped milk but it wasn’t a huge deal. I did eventually get my child “back to breast” but also continued to pump the majority of the time. I turned down all work travel the first few months, I had my first work trip when DS was 5 months and I was gone for 4 days. Since then I’ve had various trips usually just lasting 1-3 days. Thankfully Darling Husband is an amazing and very hands on dad and handles it no problem when I’m gone.

Likewise, when he’s gone I just handle everything. Darling Husband finds it harder to be away than I do, but that’s because I’m with DS way more than he is. For me I find it a welcome break (I’m self employeed and work from home w/ DS) when I get a few days away. 

I do think long-term consistant travel would wear you down if you didn’t have a partner who could 100% hold their own at home. 

Post # 13
Member
2224 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: July 2018

missinthecity :  I travel a fair bit for my job (wildlife biologist), as does my husband.  It’s tough.  You really really aren’t going to want to travel very frequently.  You miss your baby, and it’s hard on your partner, and the pumping / feeding thing is stressful.  I’ve definitely adapted my travel schedule to travel much less than before.

I first went away for 2 weeks straight when my baby was 6 months old, but I actually brought him and my mom with me.  We stayed in a two-room suite at the hotel and it worked pretty well.  My husband was also gone then.  It’s tough traveling with a baby – they have SO much stuff, and your spouse really misses you etc. 

The next several times, I went away for 5 days each and my husband was alone with the baby (plus daycare).  I really missed them and I know it was stressful for him, but it’s also great for dads to have the lone responsibility for a baby… it’s really good for bonding, and it’s good for moms to not have ultimate control.  

Honestly though, EITHER parents traveling a lot of the time — but ESPECIALLY the mom, given hormones and breastfeeding and everything else — is super tough when your kid is an infant or toddler.  Parenting is so all-encompassing and it’s really rough on the other spouse to not have some assistance.  It’s definitely not ideal.  My husband has been gone for probably 6 weeks total since our baby was born 9 months ago, so I see both sides of it.

How long are you usually gone for?  2-5 days is manageable…. more than gets realllllly old.

Post # 15
Member
391 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: August 2014

missinthecity :  role reversal, as it’s my husband that is away. Our son just turned one, so he just started in a dayhome. My husband is away for weeks at a time for work through the summer/fall, and honestly it’s hard. It might even be harder now that my son is older/in dayhome/has a set bedtime etc than it was when he was 6 weeks – 3 ish months old, because then I could just pick up and take him wherever (my parents, shopping, etc). Now, I get home from work, pick up my son, feed him dinner, have maybe an hour to accomplish things out of the home (groceries, playground, etc) and then it’s bedtime and I’m stuck at home alone for the night. My husband recently was the solo parent for the first time over a weekend, I went to a bachelorette 😊 and by Sunday night when I got home he was exhausted. Like passing out on the couch at 8:30. 

If you are both committed and on board, you can manage it (though I imagine it would be a huge pain if you were still breastfeeding. Pumping is the worst), but it will be a lot for your husband, even with daycare etc. My husband loves his job, and specifically loves the work that takes him out of town, and I’m not about to ask him to stop, but it is hard and it does kinda suck. (He is also a biologist 

KittyYogi :  )

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