When my first child was born, I was working in a job that involved quite a bit of travel, for long stretches at a time. The thought of leaving her for long stretches was mind-boggling. From breastfeeding to missing the small moments, I wondered how I would manage.
I lasted about a year, and then I decided to go contract. I had been working in travel publishing and truly lived and breathed travel.
My second child came within a year and then I was home with two babies whose lives depended on me. It was wonderful but a challenge, and a bit of a shock, to say the least, and I went back to work relatively quickly, in the travel guide space, naturally. Over the next seven years, I would go onto work for all the major travel publishers, and when the odd work trip came about, I would embrace the time away from home but it was only going away overnight, at most.
After I started blogging in 2010, my kids were already six and seven. My career had gone highly digital, with the invention of social media and I started traveling to attend conferences and meetings, spending more and more time away from home. I always made sure I was covered back home, and it took a lot to arrange childcare, but traveling gave me my mojo back.
As much as travel impacted me before I had kids, it has impacted me even more since I had them. Since becoming an actual travel writer (with my roots in travel publishing, you can see this apple didn’t fall far from the tree), I have learned to appreciate my time away and think that it’s made me a better mom.
Here are ten ways travel has improved motherhood for me:
Distance makes the heart grow fonder.
I love my kids, but as a WAHM, there is no question that being a mom pulls me in a lot of directions. Going away gives me time to regroup, to sleep in a hotel room on my own, to breathe in, to indulge my love of travel without anyone pulling on me or complaining. Granted, when I travel with the kids, I gear my trip around their interests and needs. Getting time for myself, and being able to do the things I love, nourishes my soul and brings me back a better mom.
I can be more adventurous.
When I’m traveling with the kids, I might not be inclined to take a 6am hot air balloon ride or early excursion riding a bike down a canyon at sunrise. Once when traveling through Iceland, the only activity my kids really enjoyed was going to the geothermal pools, which was lovely, but we wanted to explore glaciers and go whale-watching. When I’m on my own, anything is possible and I can come home and share stories.
More “me time”.
When we first started traveling as a family, there was much to bring on our travels, and I remember being constantly aware of feeding and sleep schedules. There were a lot of kid-routines to manage, particularly with two kids in tow. On my own, I can read, write or best of all, sleep, on long flights. When I have down time in my hotel room, I can watch movies, chat on the phone and simply BE. When I travel on my own or in a group, it’s about me once again. And there’s nothing wrong with that.
I miss my kids while I’m away.
As much as I appreciate my time away from home, I do think about my kids and check in. We Facetime each other and I pick up souvenirs where I go, never coming home empty-handed. Their ability to carry on without me is also quite satisfying and makes me feel good about my parenting skills.
My family becomes more sufficient.
Speaking of my kids carrying on without me, it fills me with pride to know that they’re waking up and getting up and out without my presence. While my husband and sitters help out while I’m away, my kids have more responsibility when I’m not around. I always notice a change for the better when I get home.
I’m able to pursue my dreams and work on my bucket list.
Before I had kids, I used to track the places I visited. I started traveling on my own at a very young age (I first studied abroad at age 16), and seeing the world became a very important part of my life. Since having kids, I’ve been more places than I ever expected, and I’ve not had to stop.
I loosen up.
While there’s a lot of juggling to get away for a week, it’s completely possible. I leave thorough schedules and make sure everything is squared away before I leave, but I’ve also learned that while I’m away, my kids don’t have to attend every after-school activity. Things can go awry for a short period and get back on track when I get home, if need be.
I do research on where to take my kids and often I return….. with them.
Sometimes when I am investigating destinations while on assignment, I discover new places that would be ideal for our family vacations. When we go back, I have a certain sense of knowledge that enhances our visits.
People wonder how I do it.
It all goes back to the question of can women have it all? Can a mother travel and be a mom at the same time? I space my trips out and make sure I am home for everything important. I have missed a few concerts and recitals but for the most part, I’m around.
Most of all, I am a better mother for doing what I love.
My kids love the fact that I’m out there traveling the world, and I love the fact that I’m not missing out on what I love doing most.