Managing Business Trips as a Parent

Parent Q&A

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  • Hi,

    I am a single mom and I have an almost 1 year old baby girl. My mom helped me a lot but unfortunately she has to return back to Europe and since I don't have family here in the bay area my question is: What can a single mom do if she needs to attend a work trip for 3 days??? I don't know where I can can put my baby full time for 3 days so I can attend a very important business trip? Unfortunately the trip will be abroad so taking the baby with me is not really an option otherwise she would have to suffer from severe jet lag (9 hours time difference) for just 3 days of staying there. Please help! Let me know if you know of any options as I can't think of anything.

    Many thanks

    I really feel for you in this situation! I am paranoid about childcare providers for even 3 hours. Our top babysitter is actually a daycare teacher my toddler is already used to. 
    I would suggest talking with people your friends have vetted. Or if they’re a stranger, they should have excellent qualifications. Like a doula. Or a former teacher. I recommend my doula who also does childcare and postpartum work, her name is Michi Arguedas from quetzal doula. She is super loving and so great with babies. She helped me a lot after the pregnancy. 
    We also used Trusted. It’s an app owned by the people but has a higher caliber of caregivers. We ended up hiring a teacher last summer who was on break to help us. There’s something about knowing a provider is already background checked and vetted by the state that makes a big difference in our ability to trust :) Good luck!

    My 5-yr-old has never shown the slightest sign of jet lag during trips to the east coast or abroad. You may have other logistical reasons for not bringing the baby but I wouldn’t make jet lag the deal-breaker.

    Hi! In case your work trip is to Europe, I would consider going for longer, bringing baby with you, and have your mom meet you at your destination and care for the baby while you are working. E.g. if you meeting is Monday to Wednesday, I would fly out Thursday or Friday night, have a little time to adjust, do the workshop, maybe take a day off afterwards and then fly back home by Friday and have the weekend to readjust. Sure, your baby will have some jetlag but that that will happen anytime you go visit your family in Europe and its just something to get used to (my family is from Europe and my 2,5 year old has travelled back with me 4 times so far). It will certainly be not a treat for you, but pretty exhausting, just sharing an option. If you keep your baby in the Bay: I assume you have a nanny or nanny share? I would first ask her if she could stay with your baby for 3 days as a paid gig. I think it would be best if your baby could stay in her environment, rather than having to be at someone elses place. Good luck!

    There is the Bay Area Crises Nursery in Concord. My understanding is they can keep children under 5 yrs. up to 30 days. I am about to start volunteering there so I had a brief observation and it seems like a good place but check it out....


    I totally understand your situation as I have been there many times. We once had my sister come all the way from Europe to watch our kids because we had to take an exam out of state. We also do not have any family here. Do you have any friends you trust and who are willing to take care of your kiddo? We are doing that now (sister could not come again). 

    Think about a nanny, friends, maybe extending the trip  and taking your kiddo with you and meet there with family. Good luck! 

    Hi there!

    I'm also a single mom and have a 3-year-old son and no family in the area. I recently did an overnight trip to Boston and left my son here for the first time. It was slightly shorter than yours (only one overnight), but I just had my babysitter stay the night at our place and take him to/from preschool. It worked surprisingly well and he did great. I think this might be the best option since it enables your baby to sleep where she is comfortable, etc. I do understand, however, that doing this with a 1-year-old might be slightly more difficult. I would be happy to help in any way possible, even watching your baby if you can't find someone. I understand completely how difficult it is as a single parent without family nearby. Please feel free to email me at teresa_scanlan [at]

    Best wishes to you and keep up the great work! 

    It helps to cultivate a trusting relationship with a nanny or babysitter you can leave the baby with. But that takes time and it sounds like you don’t know someone like that at the moment. Well, an option would be to fly mom back for a visit and time your business trip for when she is here. Or visit mom and drop off the baby there before going on the business trip. Other people may have other suggestions. 

  • My husband travels fairly frequently for work, and is usually gone at least one week a month. I work full-time and we have a preschooler and a dog at home. 

    After a few years of this, I’ve hit the point of complete exhaustion. Even with a somewhat flexible job that lets me work from home when needed, and family nearby to help, I find myself resenting my husband every time he goes out of town for work and leaves me to hold down the fort. I know business travel is not a vacation, and he is always very apologetic about not being home to help, but it still drives me crazy to hear him talk about how “tired” he is after a day at a conference, when I’ve been doing ALL the school drop-offs and pick-ups, cooking (or, more likely, takeout ordering), cleaning, dog-walking (we don’t have a yard), and other grunt work at home, while also trying to do my job that pays my share of the bills. Since I don’t travel for work, he’s never in my shoes so I’m not sure he realizes just how hard, and time-consuming, and stressful it can be. (I don’t know how single working parents do it, I honestly don’t!) My husband has had the same job since our pre-baby days, and I actually used to kind of enjoy having a bit of time alone when he traveled. Now, I dread it.

    For those with spouses / partners who frequently travel for work, what have you found to be useful in managing while they are gone? By “managing,” I mean both taking care of everything that needs to be done, and also taking care of yourself. And, how do you keep from acting like a martyr, or being resentful? I would appreciate any suggestions for how to cope from those who have been in similar situations. Thank you! 

    My husband travels a lot (maybe 250 days last year). I've always worked full time and we have three kids. It was horrible until the youngest was about 2, so if you aren't there yet, just hang on a little longer. If your kid is already that old and it is still awful, know it does get better as your kid gets older and can do more things for him-/herself.

    We didn't (don't) have a dog. I think that would have just pushed me over the top, but here are some tips about what got me through when they were little. (Now they are all in elementary school so it isn't as bad).

    My husband is never allowed to say that he is tired while he is gone. "You were up until midnight at a conference dinner and then you had to get up at 6:30 to meet with someone before the conference started? I don't care. I was up working for a work deadline until 2am and then I slept in brief spurts until the baby woke up for the day at 4:12." Yeah, while the kids are little, his day is pretty much never going to be as bad as yours.

    He is never allowed to walk in the door after being gone and complain that the house is messy. Ever.

    I find long trips the hardest. If my husband is gone for an extended period, I take a vacation day about every 2 weeks just so I can get some sleep and run some errands in peace. Or a sick day since if I don't, I wind up getting sick anyway from lack of sleep. On the weekend mornings I shameless plop the kids in front of DVD movies so I can catch up on sleep. Teach your kid how to work the DVD player. That extra sleep is gold.

    Have your husband make a dinner you can just pop in the microwave or oven, even if just for a night or two. Perfect some quick easy dinners, like rice and bean burritos (microwave rice from Trader Joes for 3 min. while can of black beans is cooking. When rice is done, put a tortilla with cheese on it in the microwave for 20-35 seconds to melt cheese and soften tortilla. When done, fill with rice and beans.), baked marinated tofu with rice and broccoli (marinate tofu in some sort of sauce then bake at 350 for 20 minutes), macaroni and cheese, etc. Not having to get take out makes life calmer. (Though I understand why you do! I hated getting home and having to even think about dinner.) When I'm cleaning up from dinner, I put food in the little tubs you can get from Target so that lunch for the next day is already made. If there is enough for 2 or 3 days of lunch, so much the better. Your kid doesn't care if s/he gets the same thing for lunch day after day.

    Don't worry about cleaning the house while your husband is gone. You might need to do laundry (don't fold anything except for your stuff that will wrinkle) but everything else can wait.

    You said you have family nearby who can help. Can you get them to do something regularly? Like pick up kid from preschool every Wednesday and do something with him/her then drop kid off at home with the dinner they made/bought for you? Take kid to preschool every Tuesday morning so you don't stress about being late for the 9am meeting you have that day? Take the dog on a long ramble a couple of days/week so you don't have to? Figure out what is the worst for you and ask them to help.

    Before your husband leaves make sure you have all the groceries you need for the week. Get a cleaning person. Find someone to walk your dog sometimes.

    I am the traveler in our family. We have an au pair, and when I'm gone, we increase the time in preschool/afterschool, then use the au pair's time to help more on evenings and weekends.

    In general, I'd suggest getting yourself some support if you can manage it financially on the things that need to be done so that you are able to take care of yourself.

    I've been where you are and relate to your growing resentment. I'm sorry. 

    This too shall pass. I got through it realizing that these high maintenance years pass quickly. I minimized efforts while partner traveled. Which made his re-entry more challenging, but that's another story. 

    For now, find a weekend retreat where you can get away alone. Leave partner and kid to develop their own rhythm without you. I made a point if disappearing Sunday mornings to swim at the Y. Build in your rejuvenation and restoration time into the family schedule. It may not always be possible, but take what you can get. I avoided pets -- too much giving effort.  

    I feel you -- I've been dealing with this for 15 of our daughter's 17 years. My husband has typically been away 50-80% of the whole time she's been growing up. I now believe this was a very, very bad idea for reasons too complicated to go into in depth here - suffice to say that daughter hates her father now and has significant mental health and addiction issues which were certainly not ameliorated by him not being present. I used to refer to him as "Happy Fun Clown Daddy" because he would swoop in for fun weekends and then be gone again, leaving me to not only run the whole household but also to parent like a single mom most of the time (I worked about 30 hours a week most of the time, too, and it was my salary that paid for daycare and preschool).  Same thing for a BFF of mine, she has 3 kids, and the eldest one has also become a real problem child. She has a lot more financial resources than I do, and one difference I can see between us is that she was able to hire more and better help - house cleaners, nannies, etc., which did take some of the load off (but not all - you really don't want your au pair driving your kids around).  I have come to resent my husband for all this, and I'm not sure our marriage will continue much past getting our daughter off to college (and it certainly will end if she boomerangs back quickly). He doesn't help himself by posting online pictures of the strolls he takes through exotic locales after "a long day of meetings", nor of the gourmet meals he consumes, nor of the deluxe hotel rooms. I'm with you on that - yes, they work hard, but NO JOB is as hard as full time parenting.

    So what are some practical tips to help you survive this without losing your sanity?
    1. As best you can, encourage your husband to find a job with less travel, even if it means less money.

    2. If you can afford to, hire someone to clean your house weekly or every other week - this really frees up some time for you. Also a dog-walker.

    3. Hire a baby-sitter for an evening while he's away and go meet friends for dinner or a movie or even just a walk in the park by yourself. Make time for it - in fact, make time for yourself no matter what - get a massage or take a yoga class. Or take the dog for a long hike somewhere pretty.

    4. Make him do more of the work when he is home and feel no guilt about it.

    And take it from someone who's been doing this a long time: he'll never "get it", he'll always think what you're doing is easier than what he is. Silver lining (?): at this point, I actually prefer my spouse away - less conflict in the home and I can do more of my own thing. 

    My situation is a little different from yours, but I feel your pain. My husband does not travel for work, but his work is extremely consuming and when he gets off work (too late to pick up our kid from daycare), he comes home only to keep working, leaving me to do almost everything else - dropping off and picking up my 14 month old, feeding him, bathing him, putting him to bed, making dinner, etc. etc. I even leave work early to do all of that. Our poor dog is totally neglected, but at least we have a yard. I feel resentful sometimes, and one thing that really helps is to talk about it with him. It can be super uncomfortable to admit that you are feeling resentful, but I have noticed that putting it out there can sometimes help clear the air and open up a dialog so that you can both start seeing things from the other perspective. Besides, usually he can tell that I'm resentful even if I don't say anything and try to hide it, so I try to have the intention to tell him when I am feeling overburdened by his having to work all the freaking time. I know that he is very stressed out too, and that helps put things in perspective. Having a support network of friends and family helps too - even if it is just to have someone to complain or cry to. I wouldn't say that I am managing my situation the way I would like to (I am still working on carving out dedicated self-care time), but when I am feeling that pain my usual tendency is to call a friend, or talk to my neighbor on the bus ride home, or something like that. I still feel like I am just surviving, but it does help. Good luck!

    I understand how you feel, as I've lived it myself. I'm sorry that I don't have any silver bullets to offer, but thought I'd throw in something else to consider.

    I realize that part of my resentment toward my husband's demanding job and travel have to do with something other than feelings of exhaustion, loneliness, etc. I understand how tiring it is for my husband to work as hard as he does and I appreciate his effort and commitment to work and family. But while we are both giving  our all, the difference is that for my husband, his efforts result in travel opportunities, networking connections, respect and admiration from colleagues in his profession and higher pay, whereas for me, my efforts result in a well-run house, paid bills, a well-cared for child and lower pay. Except for my husband's appreciation, there is no external validation. I resent living the role of a 1950s housewife, but with the added responsibility of also working full time. But the biggest irritant is the fact that my husband doesn't really understand the root of my resentment. In his mind, if we are both giving 100%, it's a 50-50 split. He just doesn't really get it. I realize every couple has to make their own agreements, but it still seems as if it's a man's world in many ways, especially once children get involved. I'm not sure how this helps you, but in my case, once I understood what was at the root of some of my anger and resentment, it has become easier to let it go.

    Good luck.

    Martinis. Seriously.

    I lived for years with a spouse that traveled out of town  sometimes up to 3 weeks a month. I had 3 small kids all boys.  The only thing that kept me sane was hiring someone to play with the kids so I could get a break.  Sometimes it was  a teenager, usually it was a casual arrangement but I just HAD to have at least one good break a week, even if it was just to go for a walk or go to the library.  You have to have SOME alone, me, quiet time or you will really begin to resent your situation, imo.

    These are the exhausting years. My husband had a similar travel pattern when our kids were little (daycare-preschool, 2 kids 15 months apart). I don't think our relationship thrived during those years, but we managed. Luckily, my commute wasn't a killer and I was always responsible for the transportation so I set the schedule. 1. Household cleaning and repairs will be deferred, unless the roof is leaking or vermin invade. 2. Media time for kids is expanded to give mom time to make dinner. 3. Kids in bed by nine or before. 4. Dinner can be Kraft mac, or take-out when time and ingredients are in short supply. We had a cat, certainly less needy than a dog. I used a nighttime shower as my time; if I was able to read a section of the newspaper, it was bonus; wine mellowed my mood. Quality vs quantity.  Try not to let resentment seep in, it's corroding. Looking back, if we could have afforded it, I might have engaged a housecleaner, and even though we had two children, multiples can entertain each other if only to beat one another over the head with a pillow. Hang in there - it gets better and you're so capable, enjoy that feeling.

    I dealt with all this too, when I was married. Not because my husband travelled, but because of his work schedule and because that's how he rolled. I was resentful and unhappy about it a lot of the time. Then I got divorced and had to do all that and more. Even though it was taxing, it felt like no sweat at all because I was so much happier. I'm not suggesting that you get a divorce, but it might be a good idea to take a look at the big picture to see if the traveling is exacerbating feelings of resentment that are actually stemming from many places.

    My spouse has traveled frequently for work for my now teenage children's entire lives. During that time, I have worked full time, part time, been a full time student and not worked outside the home. I sympathize with your exhaustion, which I shared when my children were younger.  It does get easier as the children grow, because they are able to do more for themselves.

    If you can afford to hire help with any or all of childcare, cleaning, food shopping/cooking and pet care, it will help.  Some people also get help from grandparents, friends or other family.

    If you have a husband who is willing to help, he could cook and freeze dinners before leaving, and take care of periodic cleaning tasks like bathrooms, floors and changing bedding before he leaves, so you are left only with the daily dishes, dog walking and picking up.

    I was lucky to have the financial resources to hire some help, as there was no other source. My husband was always too busy first preparing for his trips, and then catching up on work when he returned.  I was resentful, but have mellowed a little.  I am extremely grateful to have a wonderful relationship with my terrific children.

    I can relate. We are a two-parent household, but from the time our kids were born, my husband has run a catering business, so he was at work all the time whenever people booked him for events (meaning: day, night, weekends); and because of his booking schedule, it was difficult for us to make plans even a day ahead, because his schedule would be changing all the time. I was at home with the kids and our dog a lot, and until my older kid was 10 years old, I can say I was angry and resentful for having to shoulder the majority of the childcare and house maintenance, and for having to be "on call" all the time, not to mention that I missed out on a lot of school-related social events (like fancy parents-only wine-and-cheese fundraisers) because I'm an introvert and didn't feel comfortable attending the events without a date. It got a lot easier once as my kids got older and more self-sufficient, and once I accepted that this was my life, and my normal.

    What helped me get through it was a regular exercise regimen, and a support group of sympathetic moms. When my kids were in diapers, I joined a mothers' group at my church (which offered free childcare during our weekly meetings) and that helped A LOT just in keeping me checked in reality, and also in making some good friendships with other moms. Also, I was grateful for my dog because he made me get out of the house for walks, kept me company during day naps, and calmed me down in a therapy-dog kind of way.

    I didn't enjoy being the sole parent responsible for stuff like organizing birthday parties for my kids, or having to learn how to drive in a Tahoe snowstorm to take my kids on ski trips, or schlepping baby seats through airports on airplanes to take my kids on trips to see out-of-town family, but after many years of this, my kids and I developed a good routine for these kinds of things, to a point that on the occasion that my husband is able to accompany us, he's somewhat resentful that we have a logistical system that can function without him.

    We can't afford a housekeeper or nanny (never had one), so my kids had to learn how to cook on their own--which helps even now as they're teenagers because they share the load of cooking dinner with me, and now that my older kid is out of the house, I don't worry about how he's going to cook for himself. And our house is just not going to be as clean and tidy or well-decorated as some others I know; I accept that.

    Because of all the time I spent with my kids, I know each of them well, and can say I have a GREAT relationship with each of them, something my husband is somewhat envious of, since his relationship with the kids while loving, is not as close.

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Mom's on a business trip

March 2009

I just stayed with my 18 mo old granddaughter while her mom was at a three day conference. My granddaughter has mild cognitive delay and significant speech delay so we were limited in talking about the separation. She was depressed the entire time (expression changing from engaged, to solemn, to sad-faced, to tears welling in eyes, to open crying) She seemed appreciative when I described her missing Mama but was unable to understand that it would be several nights before her mother's return. She was pleased to let me cuddle her--except that she had a complete meltdown at her fun-with-mama bathtime. My marvelous son-in-law came to our rescue but my self- confidence at being-there for my granddaughter was battered during this brief visit. In April Grandpa and I will be staying with her (and her daddy) several weeks when mama has a longer business trip. I am worried about how she will adjust. (I need to mention I live in another state so cannot be ''a household fixture'' beforehand.) Any advice on how to help my granddaughter during this time of separation? Grandma

Dear Grandma, I certainly understand your concern regarding taking care of your grandchild while her parents are away. I was in a similar situation with my grandson when he was 18 months old.

I made a book for him ahead of time that showed pictures of his parents day by day during their absence. I included pictures of him and me so he could see what we were planning to do during our time together. (I used photos that we had taken earlier). It included text that told the story of Daddy and Mommy's vacation. I included the refrain, ''and they love you very much'', on each page.

We read the book everyday, over and over again. It seemed to reassure him to see the pictures of Mommy and Daddy and see what they were doing.

If you think this might be of help for your granddaughter, you have time to put one together for her before the April visit.

We also arranged for them to call every night and be part of his getting ready for bedtime. My daughter-in-law also wrote a letter to be opened and read each evening before he went to bed to remind him how much they love him.

In addition, keeping him as much on his regular routine as we could, also helped.

I hope these suggestions help. If you have any questions you'd like to ask me further, please contact me.

My best to you. From one Grandma to another. bsl

First, they are so lucky to have your help!

Second, take yourself off the hook. You can't prevent her pain, really. You may not be able to fix everything or help her adjust. Just be the loving woman you are. Be consistent and nurturing and know that in this case, you are the best of the possible options. It may still be hard. Try to accept that it won't be perfect, and enjoy the good parts of the visit. Bless you for helping your daughter. ''You seem sad, but guess what? Mommies always come back!''

My mother-in-law lives in another country but the children speak to her a couple of times a week on the webcam. When they were younger and didnt speak well, we used manipulatives. She had various stuffed animals that visited the camera and there's visited her. She told them stories about the animals and read them picture books. Consequently, they are perfectly comfortable being left with her as soon as she arrives for a visit even though it is only once a year. I think it might also help that they hear us have conversations with her and it is the norm. There are laptop webcams I think so you could set it up to have a webvisit during bath time or right before bedtime. Remember that kids pick up on your distress so you have to calm your inner self too like you would with a collicky baby. I'm sure that you are and will continue to be appreciated for all the help that you give. Connected

Maybe your daughter and son-in-law can talk to your granddaughter well in advance of the trip and build up you and grandpa. Kids don't always take change well, expecially if they are not able to express their feelings. Your daughter and SIL should make sure she is well aware of this visit and mom going away for a while but she will be back and some of the things that will happen during this visit. Your daughter and SIL know the best way to get points across to your granddaughter so they should be able to explain the whole thing a little better then you might and get her better prepared. Also if at all possible, plan a weekend trip to see her before the business trip so your granddaughter can bond with you guys a little with mom around. You don't want her to think the only time you come to visit is when mom leaves, it may make the bonding more difficult if she looks at the situation negatively. Good luck. Laura

Husband who Travels a Lot

Jan 2009

I am a SAHM with a husband who travels a fair amount for his job. We have a stable, happy marriage for the most part, but I am finding his traveling to be a challenge. It's difficult for all the standard reasons...missing him, trying to hold down the household alone, parenting alone, etc.

The part that I am finding most difficult, however, is the late night socializing that often goes on when he's on these trips, and also the fact that he sometimes travels with female coworkers. On his last trip, he traveled with a woman that he works with, including the flight, a bit of sightseeing in the city they went to, day-long meetings, and meals. One night he went out to bars with this woman, alone. After that, when the clients arrived, they went out, although as a group, most nights after their work was done. They were in London, where he has never been, so he said he was just so excited to see the sights and get out and she was too, so it made sense to go together that first night even though it was just them. This woman is married as well.

I voiced frustration and sadness and my husband understood why it would be hard for me, and did say he shouldn't have gone out with her alone, but that it was absolutely harmless and they are both happily married so there was nothing not to trust. He did say that going out to the bars late is something that would be hard to avoid because after long work days the co-workers go there to unwind and eat and talk about work. I get that, but I feel like when it goes until like 2am on several of the nights, it's excessive. He has never given me reason to not trust him, and he's a very devoted husband and father. He did check in with my a lot during his travels and expressed how much he missed us.

But, it's very hard for me to be alone at home, especially at night, while he travels...knowing he is socializing at bars and it makes me feel very disconnected and strange. Am I overreacting? I know there is more travel in the future and it scares me how lonely I seem to feel when he is gone. If anyone else is or has been in this situation, I'd love to hear your take and how you dealt with it. Thanks, Wife of a Traveler

I am the traveler in our marriage and I go to many interesting countries with male an female coworkers. I would feel like an infringement on my time if my husband told me not to go sightseeing with my colleagues. I am sad that he is not with me to share this experience with me but that feeling alone cannot make me stay at the hotel alone. In addition to the sightseeing we go out for dinner every night, well, rarely until 2 am, but it is still every night, often until midnight. I think it is just part of traveling for work, after all anyone in a new place would like to take the opportunity to see more of it, and not just the insides of hotels and offices. I can see your point because I tend to be jealous too and that is what your feelings sounds to me, but you will just have to trust your husband and make the best of this situation. It used to be the opposite in our family and I remember hating it when he had to leave for a week and leave on Sunday night. Eventually I got used to it and occasionally even looked forward to being on my own (at least, after the kid goes to bed :-)). Z

I just wanted to validate your feelings and concerns. My husband used to travel a lot for work - usually gone Sunday night thru Thursday night every week for 6 to 12 months each year for several years. This was before we had kids (I insisted on a job change before the first arrived). Your situation is even more difficult since you're parenting 24/7 solo. I felt jealous that he was traveling (something we both love), and going out to interesting restaurants. When he was home he wanted home-cooked meals understandably, while I wanted to go out. From his perspective, being on the road was lonely, and when he found some common interests with a collegue, he welcomed the company. Maybe your husband has a high need for social interaction - mine went out once or twice a week with collegues, not every night. He'd have drinks with dinner, but very rarely went to bars, and maybe only once or twice stayed out late (never solo with a female collegue). This pattern seemed pretty reasonable to me - he wasn't living it up, having a great time, but he was trying to make the best of a sub- optimal situation.

It doesn't sound like you're too worried about infidelity, but if his active social life on the road is weighing on you, I suggest you initiate that converstaion: acknowledge that traveling for work can be very lonely, and try to find a compromise that helps you both feel more connected to one another. anon

I would feel uncomfortable in your shoes, too. Even if he has never given you reason to worry, hopefully he respects your feelings and wants you to feel comfortable about his traveling and would be willing to negotiate some conditions that would make you feel better. anon

Hi, I too am a SAHM with a young baby. My husband travels abroad for weeks at a time and I find it challenging on many levels. I felt from your email the same loneliness and insecurities that I struggle with. My husband and I have regular couples counseling and have done since the day we got married. I really feel that this is the best gift we could ever give to one another and our child and it does help. We actually look forward to going to counseling as it is a safe place to talk about these things, we always feel closer afterwards.

Even if your husband's relationship with his colleague is totally innocent, I think he's behaving insensitively, even inappropriately and he is not hearing your pain. I don't know any woman who would feel 100% okay with this situation. I urge you to find a counselor and you WILL work this out and be happier. All the best. SJ

It sounds as if he is listening to you and your feelings of discomfort and offering to change his behavior. A bit. And it is good that you can talk to him about this -- I don't think you're being unreasonable in expressing discomfort with the idea of so much time and socializing with another woman while he travels. One small point -- was it in London that he was staying up so late in the bars? Because my experience of Britain is that a whole lot of drinking goes on, even in business contexts. Though I would have thought the bars would be closed well before 2... can't keep up with the Brits

Sigh. I've been in your position twice. The first time, it was nothing. The second time it was something, which turned into a brief affair that was hard to recover from. For both situations, as soon as I felt suspicious, I planned informal meetings for our families (picnics/playdates) ''to get to know them better'' (i.e., ''know thy enemy''). When I met the first one, I knew all was well. When I met the second, I knew the minute she and my husband looked at each other that something was up.

Telling your husband that you feel insecure will only make the matter worse, and make the potential mistress more attractive. Take the matter into your own hands. If he doesn't want you to meet at all, then you have your answer. If you meet her and get that horrible pit-of-the-stomach feeling, you will have your answer, too. Trust your gut after you have some more facts.

I hope with all my heart that your experience is like my first one. Who knows, you might end up with a new friend. Crossing my fingers for you

Oh, I get it honey...and even if the worst scenarios are not being played out, it is still stressful. My husband is an airline pilot -- lots of twenty something chicklets who would love to land an airline Captain and really don't care that he has a wife and kids.

How do I deal with it? Weeeeeeelllllll...99% of the time, I am not particularly worried. We have a good marriage, etc. 1% of the time, I am a nutcase for all of the reasons about which you write. I do try to travel with him every now and again (with and without the kids). I did try to move myself out of the little woman staying at home role...I got a part-time job, started running trail marathons, etc.

Feel free to contact me via the moderator if you want to talk about things at length. I think that you are fine, but I also know the stress...and, I know that it isn't something that you can chat comfortably about with your friends... -anon

Take a lesson from the Japanese housewives who live with this every night as husbands are expected to socialize with co- workers in drinking clubs after work and not participating could/would negatively impact their success and promotion opportunities with the firm. These guys roll in at 1:00 a.m. on weekday nights and are off to the office at 6:00 a.m. to do it again whether they like it or not. Such lifestyles are a double edged sword. People that are prone to weakness often fail to survive the temptations of these type situations. I know of firemen and pilots who have destroyed their marraiges by infidelity thinking they lived separate lives and dual identity while the spouse waited at home night after night. On the other hand these trips and the socializng in strange countries are part of the job and your husband sounds like a decent guy who is just being social with co-workers rather than sitting alone in a hotel room. Such circumstances can actually help sort out relationships. If your husband isn't trustworthy you would be best to find that out sooner rather than later. His presence in situations of temptation will cause him to make his choices in life-to stand up to temptation to stray or cave in to it. You'll know who you have soon enough. While it is tough sitting on your end what are the options? Should he change jobs to one with no travel? Should you insist he do so? Probably not if he is happy with the job and it provides a good living for you. The Japanese housewives accept the situation as a necessary evil they must endure. It is part of the culture just as your husband's job involves spending time with co-workers while off duty on business trips. If he starts doing the same while at home during the week and coming home late regularly then you have your answer-he has caved in. As long as it is just on occaision during business trips I would not be concerned but you don't have to like it. Make him call in each night! anon

I REALLY find it hard to believe that the work colleagues have to stay out until 2 am to discuss work. That is not work, that is partying. I could understand an occasional night out that ran late but regularly? no. My husband also travels frequently so I have had the same issues that you have, including trips to Europe with female colleagues. I figure if they're going to cheat, there's no way to stop it. There aren't enough ''checking in'' phone calls that could ever be effective. This is a fairly new phenomenon in the workplace and it even has a name: the work spouse.

There have to be some boundaries here and I don't find it acceptable for my husband to go sightseeing and to bars alone with another woman. But then I look like the jealous frump stay-at-home wife. My solution? I elbowed my way in to some work functions and dinners and tried to act breezy, like it was no big deal that my husband and this woman traveled together. I had never even been to my husband's office before this. But then she left the company and wanted to continue to see my husband to ''network'' and ''meet for a drink'' and ''keep in touch''. That's when I put my foot down and said no, not acceptable and how would HE feel if I started having male friends to pal around with and go to movies and out to dinner to ''talk''. He had never thought of that. After my husband's trip with his work spouse I felt really mad, left out and neglected, so I dyed the gray out of my hair, bought some really nice clothes, lost some weight, joined an investment club, and started thinking about returning to work--not for him--for ME.

Maybe we need a support group--wives of traveling husbands with workspouses? We could meet while our husbands are off in Europe sightseeing with other women. --the stay at home spouse.

This would not make me happy AT ALL. I also think you need a night or two out every now and then while he stays home with the kids. That can be part of your work of being a mom just like his partying is part of his work of whatever he does. Good luck.

Read ''Not Just Friends'' by Shirley Glass. It's a book about infidelity, but it outlines how to affair proof your marriage. Being happy isn't a guarantee against having an affair - having sliding boundaries is. If you're not conscious of keeping your boundaries with the opposite sex clear, you're likely to become inappropriate. Betrayed Spouse

I would encourage you to talk to your husband about your feelings. It will be a very difficult conversation, and you need to find a way to do it without accusing him of anything, but you MUST have the conversation.

The reason I say this is because I travel for my job (although not as much as it sounds like your husband does). There was a period of time a few years ago (before kids) where I became very close to a co-worker of mine, as we were assigned to the same projects on a regular basis. This co-worker (who is also married) was very different from my husband, and led a lifestyle that I, at the time, thought was pretty glamourous and wonderful. My husband and I had also been friends with him for several years. To make a long story short, I would say we ended up having what I've seen called an ''emotional affair.'' Nothing physical ever happened, but I did have feelings for the man, my husband figured it out, and it nearly ended my marriage. It was incredibly embarrassing, because I had to continue to work with the person, and travel with him, and for a long time it was very difficult for my husband when I did travel, even though I was careful to check in with him, get back to my hotel at an early hour, etc. I don't think my husband ever really got over than until I got pregnant and had our son. I think then he sort of was consoled that my motherhood signified my dedication to him and family.

Anyway, I am rambling. I am not saying that this same situation will happen to you and your husband, but you must tell him how you are feeling. It really is what is best for you and your marriage. CF

I can definitely relate to your situation. I'm also a SAHM with a husband who travels a lot (although not so much lately, which is a blessing). He used to be gone about 25%-50% of the time and it sucked. The height of his travel time was when our kids were 5 and 7, I think. The hardest parts for me were the boredom and loneliness, and the exhaustion and frustration I had with my kids. He doesn't travel on long overnight trips much anymore, but he still does go out on an evening often to shmooze with customers and clients. I have never really worried about any sort of infidelity on his part. My big problem is ENVY. I feel bitter (I still do!) that he gets to go out to fancy restaurants and bars and travel to cool places like London (yes, he did that too) while I get to go to Picante and Berkeley Bowl with two cranky kids. Yay.

What I ended up doing is hiring a babysitter to come one evening a week. I usually went to a knitting group, but sometimes I just went shopping or to a movie or something. ANYTHING to get me out of the house and away from my kids and absent husband. It really helped me to have some time to myself; I even went out alone when my husband was home! Of course it wasn't the same thing as my husband globe-trotting, but the truth is that work travel sucks. Hotels suck, airplane flights suck, the crappy generic restaurants in BFE America suck (Applebee's, anyone?). Every so often he goes to a nice restaurant and spends time with nice people, but the majority of the time he's spending with boring or offensive co-workers and wishing he was home with his wife and kids. So it's not all fun and games.

Still, my advice it make the most of when he's away and when he's home. Make sure to get time to yourself while he's gone, and go out on dates when he's home. Been There, Done That

Mmmm, this is a tough one but I think you are completely justified in your feelings. If I were you I would tell him how YOU feel (and maybe even let him read your posting?) and see how he reacts. I think if he really understands where you're coming from he'll start making different decisions, like not going to the bar or at least leaving earlier.

I traveled recently (to London strangely enough) with a male coworker. We flew together (but didn't sit together), ate all our meals together and shared taxis to and from the office together. I was a new employee and this was my ''teammate'' so it was really great to get to know him better. HOWEVER, if he had asked me to go to the bar or take time to go site seeing I would have declined...because I'm a married woman. If there's time to go site seeing then fly home sooner. Drinking with coworkers is very dangerous--been there, done that in my twenties before being married and it gets dicey quickly. SO, I think your husband needs to use better judgment simply because he's married now but also because he'll have your feelings in mind.

Also, you might need some more adult interaction, especially when he's gone. Can friends come over in the evening? It's easy for me to ''spin out'' on negative thoughts when I'm alone at night... Good luck.

My husband travels internationally and to NY and LA for work, and I used to be jealous when he would call me from some place like Tiananmen Square and tell me he was touring the city on bicycle... while I was home with the kids. Then, I started going on three and four day trips to LA and NY... once to Austin, with my girlfriends and sometimes with my mom and sister. I stayed in nice hotels, ate out in restaurants, shopped, stayed out late and sometimes DRANK. Not only did I have fun, but I feel like it's more ''even'' now. Try it! anon

Should I take 18-mo-old with me on business trip?

July 2008

I have a daughter who is 18 months. She is still breastfeeding (3 times a day if I'm working, on demand when I am home). She has always been a great traveler (many times around the country and once to Japan). However, we just went on a week long trip to my parents and she was a MESS. Couldn't sleep, got really sick, got really clingy, etc. Now that we have been home a week, she still hasn't recovered from the clinginess and fussiness. I have a conference in a few weeks where I will be gone from Mon - Fri and am totally torn about whether to bring her or not. I have arranged for a friend (who my daughter doesn't know) to come for a few days and take care of Ana and for my mom to come for the other few days (who Ana just got to know better again this past trip). Ana would be with me in the evenings but be in completely new surroundings and with new people.

Now, I am debating whether to bring her with me or not. The plane ride would be difficult because we don't have $$ to buy her a seat. If she has a breakdown and gets clingy I will have traveled for to a conference that I can't really enjoy or possibly even attend (if she gets sick again). If I leave her home, she would be in familiar surroundings with her father and grandma (who lives with us and is her normal caregiver), but without her mother and her beloved breastmilk. This seems like an easy decision but the main reason I am debating is that when my nephews parents took off for a weekend once and left him with his grandma (who lived with them at the time), he was so shocked and had such bad separation anxiety that he got very ill and became incredibly clingy and afraid of strangers. It took them months and months for them to get over that. I do NOT want to do that to my daughter but I also don't want to torture her on a trip meant for adults. If anyone has any experience that they could share, or advice, I would GREATLY appreciate it as I need to decide quickly to finalize plans for during the conference. -Very guilty-feeling mom

You know your child best, so do what you feel is right. Here is my experience for what it's worth -- I have found that traveling without my child has allowed her to stay in her familiar environment with loving caregivers who treat her like a queen and I'm able to focus on my work away without being absolutely exhausted and stressed out; and she doesn't have to deal with the headaches of planes and hotels either. Throughout her infancy and toddler-hood I took many short trips and ones for up to two weeks away. I missed her dearly during these times, but found that I was the one who had the harder time being away. When I arrived home, we'd both be so happy to see each other -- and were rested and ready to have fun together. She breast fed until she self-weaned at 20 months. There are many paths to be a working, traveling parent -- you just got to find the one that works for your child. And, know that if one way isn't working, you can always change up the plan. anon

Is it possible for the grandma who is her normal caregiver to fly with you? Is she free and willing? On the plane you could trade off holding her. Your mother could still assist. Ideally, she could be with a familiar person and have the benefits of being near you in the evenings. Alternatively, is it possible for you to prioritize the most important parts of the conference and not leave her all day or even for long stretches (to check in and see her at lunch or to skip a boring session)?

I have a few questions from your post, the most important one being who is at the top of your child's hierarchy? Who does your child turn to when upset, hurt, tired? If it's you, then I would definitely take her. Another question I have from your post is whether your child was with you or your husband continuously during your recent visit to your parents or whether you left her to be babysat and went out on excursions. Looking at some of the circumstances may help illuminate why she had a change in her behavior. She may have had an adverse reaction to something, but also, bear in mind that her illness may have had a lot to do with her clinging. anon

Will she take breastmilk in a sippy cup? You could always pump and freeze. That will solve half of your problem... -anon

Sad about separation from 4-mo-old for business trip

July 2007

I will be leaving my 4 month old with her gradparents for 5 nights, rather than take her cross country with me for business. It will be the first time we will be separated and just the thought, just typing this, fills me with sadness. I am sure she will be fine with her grandparents, and they will keep her on her routine, but I fear that she will feel abandoned. How can I ease this pain? Stefan

The first time I left my daughter for a business trip, I thought I wouldn't get through it. I feared missing her too much, how she would do without me, what if something happened to me. In fact the first few times I traveled without her it was really, really hard for me. But, as I'm sure others might say, it has gotten alot easier for both of us. I also found that once I was at my destination and settled in, that while I missed her, it was also really nice to sleep in a hotel by myself! And, don't feel guilty if you feel that way even a little -- we all deserve rest. I had contemplated taking my daughter with me on these trips because of my fears, but realized she was alot better off with a consistent routine and care in my absence. So, it's not easy, but it will get easier! Good Luck

I was in the exact same situation a number of years ago (my son is now 4). It was helpful for me when I clarified that there were two things one should think about. In your case: the impact of your time away on your daughter v. the impact of your time away on you. It sounds like you have every reason to have confidence that your daughter's grandparents will be thoughtful, loving caretakers (and will be respectful of her schedule, etc). I would encourage you to let yourself relax then about the impact of your time away on your daughter. She will be fine, and its even a special time for her to bond with her grandparents, which is so very valuable. So that leaves you and how you are feeling about missing your daughter (not because you are necessary for her happiness during those five days, but because you simply love her and she is a big part of YOUR happiness). I have found when I am away with work (and this is true even today) that my feelings go in waves. I viscerally miss my son terribly for certain parts of the day (even now), feeling really sad -- but then other parts of the day I feel an unexpected sense of relief/relaxation at being on my own for a bit. I will say that there have been a few trips that I have cut short because I just felt a central need/urge to get home (again, because of my need to be there, not because anyone was falling apart without me). But usually, my trips end up being something on net I feel good about. Maybe try to reframe how you think about this trip. Your daughter is getting this great opportunity with her grandparents. So what will you be doing to take advantage of the opportunity you will have (even though you didn't really choose it) to be on your own for a few days? Its healthy to miss your kids.

I did the same thing after I went back to work. My son was 4 months old and I had to go on an international business trip for a week, and my son stayed with his father but was in daycare during the day. I was really anxious about it, but as it turns out at 4 months babies really don't have that degree of attachment that they 'miss' you or feel abandoned. My son never noticed I was gone, and he just smiled an burbled when I came back like I had just been out of the room for a moment. He's going to be fine - it's going to be harder on you than him. working mommy

I know it is hard, but it will be okay. Your baby will perfectly fine. I had to travel about 4 times a year, sometimes for 4 or 5 nights, from the time my son was 5 months until he was 4. It was always okay. In fact, it was waaaaay harder on me than on him. He is twelve now and is doing just fine. I know in these early months of parenting everything seems absolutely monumental, but as an experienced mom, I am here to tell you that when you look back at this, you will crack up about how freaked out you were. It means you are a great dad and love your kid, which is fantastic. Just keep a positive attitude about it around your baby. They can read emotions like nobody's business. If you are happy and confident, your child will be too.

Traveling without Baby-- My Separation Anxiety!

March 2007

I am scheduled to attend an academic conference in NYC at the beginning of April. I booked the trip for 6 days, 5 nights, and originally, I had planned to bring my one-year-old daughter along--I have close friends in the area, some with kids, and I thought it would fun for the baby to come with me, while I would also be able to leave her with people I trust while I was at the conference. Turns out my closest friends with babies had something come up unexpectedly and will be out of town while I'm there.

My parents--who watch her 3-4 days her during the week and my husband, who has a close relationship with my daughter, say that I should still go without baby, and that everything will be fine. Problem is, I am having terrible separation anxiety about going--I've never been apart from my daughter for more than 7-8 hours and it's just killing me. She's not breastfeeding anymore (just weaned last month), but she's extremely attached to me and I'm the only one that seems to be able to get her to eat, take naps, etc. on a regular basis. She loves her grandparents, and her dad is, for the most part, very loving, but not as attentive as I'd like him to be, i.e. he's not into following her nap schedule, and if he's feeding her, at the first sign that she doesn't want to eat, he just stops trying.

I've thought about booking another flight that leaves a day later and comes back a day earlier, so I'm only gone 3 nights. Since I booked on Hotwire, by doing that, I'd be out about $350, and that's pretty steep for a grad student trying to save up money for a house and her kid's future.

Has anyone else been in this position? Is 6 days too long to be apart from a 1-year-old? Is it a waste of money to change my flight, or would it be a small price to pay for my peace of mind? Or am I being ridiculous--having a bout of what my husband calls ''psycho mommy''? Any and all advice is appreciated. attached mom

I just did this. I think it was harder on me than it was on the baby. With good relationships to her daddy and other caregivers, she was just fine. If her nap schedule gets a little off--she'll be OK. If daddy doesn't feed her quite as much at each meal--she'll be a little hungry for the next one. Really. Elizabeth

No advice--I just wanted to say that I am in the same boat. I would also love to go to academic conferences (theoretically), but suffer too much separation anxiety as well. I think you are a loving mom--not psycho. Good luck! anon

Hi, To be honest, it really sounds like there are a few things going on here. First of all, the first time your separated from your child can easily cause anxiety. But you should be able to go somewhere without her and be able to enjoy yourself. It doesn't mean you won't miss her. But it's important that you be able to take time for yourself. But what really raised my eyebrows was the way you described your husband. I'm not saying anything's wrong with him. But it's concerning that you aren't on the same page about sleeping and eating habits. Of course, you won't handle things identically. But the fact that one of the major reasons you don't want to leave is that you don't fully trust letting her be alone with her dad for a week. Either there are some control issues going on and/or poor communication. I say take the trip, let your daughter get to know her grandparents and dad better. Enjoy yourself. When you get back, start working with your husband about getting more aligned with things when it comes to the raising of your daughter. Anon

I was in a similar situation to yours when my 18-month old son was just 11 months. I too was attending an academic conference on the East Coast and had booked it for 5 (or was it 6?) nights in order to ''see some of Montreal.'' Then a week or so before I started panicking. We were still nursing, so I worried about pumped milk, baby wondering where mommy had gone, what the hell I had been thinking, etc. I even contemplated bringing baby with me and using the conference's child care!

I just want to assure you that you will be fine, and your baby will be fine. I only had my husband and day care, but esp. with your parents' help as well, and the fact that your baby is weaned, the baby will be fine. I found the whole thing stressful, but I'm glad I stuck to the plan, and I think it was a great experience in terms of confidence and trust in him, for my husband. Everything worked out just fine. And I must admit that while I missed the baby intensely, it was good to be able to have a wee bit of free time, sans baby, which I hadn't had in a year or so.

What helped me was learning that it can be even harder to be away when the baby is talking and walking and understanding a lot one year they still don't have much of a conception of time. Anyway, babies are much more adaptable than we think....Feel free to email if you have additional concerns, and good luck to you. roxymom

On the one hand, it sounds like you might be a little controlly. On the other hand, it also sounds like your husband is kind of disrespectful. It's one thing to not stick to her nap schedule -- that might just be different parenting styles -- but to call you ''psycho mommy?'' Yeesh. Maybe he needs this time with the baby so that he grows some respect for the work you do. Bottom line: Take the trip as planned -- one day isn't that big a difference -- and see this as an opportunity for Senor Dismisso to see your POV.

Childcare for 8-year-old while parents are gone

Aug 2006

My husband and I have an usual situation for our family. We will both be required to travel for business in the same week, one of us out of the country. As a result, we need to find care for our 8 year old son, including overnight care, meals and driving to and from school. Our usual teen babysitters cannot make this kind of commitment because of their own school schedules and our own family is too far away to provide care. Any advice, recommendations, and typical rates for this type of care would be appreciated? LeeAnne

You say your family is too far away to provide care - would it be possible for you to pay (or use miles) to have a grandparent (or another family member) fly out for the week to stay with your child? It would be a great time for them to bond and might even be cheaper than hiring a round-the-clock nanny for a week Gretchen

Try Bay Area Second Mom -- they have great nannies you can hire on a temporary basis (one day to six months). We have had great luck with them. sabrina

Husband's business travel is very hard on me

June 2006

Hi, My husband has had unexpected business traveling obligations in the last year and will continue to have more this year. Our daughter has just turned one. Last year, his traveling was very hard on me even though we have part-time help twice a week during the day and my mom has been very supportive. Thankfully, as my daughter gets older, things have gotten easier. But realistically, I don't see this upcoming year being dramatically easier. My husband is very sympathetic and wants to help as much as possible. I've tried very hard to be logical about the situation and just deal with it. But inevitably, I find myself getting stressed out days prior to his leaving. Are there other stay-at-home spouses that have partners that travel a lot who have felt the way I have? What have you done to cope with the situation? Has anyone used night nurses? (Our daughter still wakes up 1-5 times a night, which is part of the problem.) Have you found this to make the situation easier? Any other recommendations? Thanks! Struggling SAHM

My husband is an airline pilot, so like you, I have to deal with frequent absences while raising our very young children. Yuur feelings are within the realm of what I experience, so as much as I am normal, you are normal. :-) Here is what I do:

Since you only have one child, is it possible to tag along on one or more trips per month? Staying within the time zone is always the easiest type of travel to do with the younger set.

Are you opposed to the cry it out method to help your child sleep though the night? Baby number two took nine months before she woiuld sleep through the night which made my days VERY LONG. I finally wne the cry it out method and life is SO much better now.

Join a gym with child care. Take as much time as they allow you to work out and enjoy a shower, blow-dry, etc. When my husband is on the road, I use every second of my two hours of the gym daycare. I'll do cardio for an hour, take a long shower, do my hair, read the paper, etc. It is tough to be on call 24-hours a day without any downtime.

Join a group of some type (book club -- real or the kind where people don't bother to read the book and just drink wine instead) and hire a babysitter or find other types of Mom's like you (pilots wives, military wives and wives of OB\\GYNs come to mind) who get to spend a lot of evenings on their own. Get together for dinner once a week.

Make sure that their is light at the end of the tunnel. My husband and I finally realized that living where we live our life is not going to get any better. We put the house up for sale and are moving to a town that we aren't nearly as excited about, but will allow us to be together as a family. Feel free to write to me directly if you want any other suggestions jan

My husband has been gone about 2 months of each of the last two years. We have an almost 2 year old and I'm 7 months pregnant (and he's going to be gone for a month before he baby comes). Some things that have helped us are:

(1) Before he leaves on a trip, he does a lot to help get us ready for it -- stocking up on groceries, making sure all errands are run, etc. One very key thing he did when he left for 6 weeks when our son was 9 months old was help him learn to sleep better. Try Meg Zweiback for help if needed.

(2) He and I try to go out on some date nights in the weeks before he goes away so we can reconnect and feel closer to each other.

(3) My son and I get into a regular routine. It seems easier on both of us because he knows what to expect and I don't have to fish around for things to do. My husband or I also buy some new toys for him.

(4) We schedule fun things to do out of the house so I don't feel so homebound. Bonus points if this is with other people. I also invite other people over because for some reason that is less tiring than being there alone.

(5) He takes up the slack as soon as he gets home. I don't care how draining his trip was, my time at home was harder.

That said, I still often feel bitter when he goes on trips and can be a total bitch for the few days before he goes. I'm working on that. Good luck! anon

My child is 15 mths old & my husband is a pilot. He is gone most weeks for a few nights, then every now and again for 4 to 6 nights in a row, and once or twice a year longer - 9 nights. It is hard, period. What works for me is to get out & do things. I have two half days of help a week & am not working. If he is going to be gone longer than 4 nights, I get extra help. I have some options thru my primary person, but also may sign up with bay area second mom as I had one time this past year when I was very ill & my husband could not return home. Make plans & stick to your schedule -- that helps our child with the transitions - whether dad is home or not bed/naps/eating etc are same times. Also we did sleep training at 6 mths & again at 9 mths becuase there would be absolutley no way I could be alone this much without getting enough sleep. Its hard, and not that many people really get what its like to be a single parent part time. I am interested in reading the replies you get for any more pointers J

Boy have I been there! It sounds like what you are suffering from is certainly exhaustion and maybe also depression (it can be a cycle). Obviously getting out and walking, doing yoga, inviting friends over for playdates, all the usual advice helps. But the only thing that will really help is someone to get up at night so that you can get your sleep. So yes, I do think a night nurse is a good idea. It just so happens that I know someone wonderful who is looking live with a family for just this purpose. Much cheaper than a professional ''night nurse'' which I heard from friends is pretty prohibitive (although she is studying to be a real nurse so just as good I would think) IF you have the space in your house for a live-in. Good luck whatever you decide to do and feel free to call me if you decide to go this route. Best, Linda (415) 515-6736 Linda

It sounds to me like your daughter's frequent waking is a BIG part of the problem. I'm a SAHM with a spouse who travels (not a ton, but enough to know how tough it can be) and I know that it's essential to have some time to myself in the evening, as well as a decent night's sleep, in order to get ready for the day ahead.

If I were you I would talk to your daughter's pediatrician to rule out any possible medical reason for her wakefulness. If she is healthy, she is probably just waking out of habit. I would then figure out a sleep-training program to help her learn to self-soothe and get herself back to sleep without nursing. At the age of one, she should be able to sleep through the night, or at least almost-through-the-night--a good long stretch of 9-10 hrs. before an early morning feeding. There are so many methods for sleep training and they have been exhaustively discussed on BPN. There are lots of schools of thought about nighttime parenting and I really don't believe one is better than the other, but I will say as a SAHM that sleep-training our son allowed me to become a better rested, happier, more enthusiastic mother. And it's way more cost-efficient than a night nurse.

I would also suggest trying to stay very busy and build a lot of structure into your day, and get to places where there are other moms. Your daughter is old enough to hit the playground even if she isn't walking yet. When my husband is gone I like to mentally map out a schedule for the day--it just feels better than a long day of hanging around the house.

I also get satisfaction out of little things like treating myself to a trashy magazine to read after my son goes to bed, and I have a tradition of getting a type of takeout cuisine that my husband doesn't like.

I also find it helpful to lower my standards a little bit: I will stick my kid in front of a video for 20 minutes so I can get something done, or send him to bed with a slightly-less-than-balanced meal in his tummy. I'm pretty diligent most of the time so I figure a little slacking isn't going to kill him anon

Hi struggling SAHM,

My husband also travels a lot for work and I have a 1 1/2 year old and a 3 year old. Most recently he was gone for three weeks while I prepared our house to be put on the market. Honestly, it gets much easier as they get older and in my experience taking care of two kids has been easier than just one because they play together while I can get some things done. Here are some of the things I do that make it actually fun while my husband is working...

Go to the gym (most have childcare), have help around dinner time (be it a friend, sitter or your mom), plan activities for every day, get outside with your child to the markets, parks or museums, get a few hours to yourself for some pampering, get help for cleaning the house or just let that go, have menus from nearby restaurants around the house for when you don't feel like cooking, and when your husband gets back from his travels plan a date night or two.

I know it must be harder when you are sleep deprived, so I would definitely look into a night nurse or perhaps your mom could help out for a night or more. I know I need more sleep when I'm doing it all by myself, so sometimes I go to bed at 8:00 with the kids and sleep for 11 hours and cuddle up with them during naptime too It does get much easier!

My husband travels a lot for work, as well. I was used to it before our baby was born, but then of course it became much harder for me after. At first, my mom would try to stay over on the nights he was gone, just to help out with cooking me food and washing dishes and stuff. That was easy for her to do, since my parents live only 35 minutes away. Now, I just do it on my own, but it is still much easier when there are two sets of hands and pairs of eyes. I encourage you to get out of the house for at least a little bit every day. The fresh air will do both of you good, and so will the change of scenery. I try not to run many errands when I'm on my own, because it's a pain when I've got the stroller and am trying to grocery shop, etc. Try to save the errands for when you are both around. I don't know if you're in a mom's group, but having activities to do with other people and where my baby can ''socialize'' with other babies has made a world of difference for me. If you have such events to look forward to, it just makes the days go by faster and with more enjoyment. Even if you don't join a group, you can go places where other moms and babies hang out, like a park or Barnes & Noble's children's section, or PriPri Cafe, Play Cafe, Habitot, etc. We got a membership to the Oakland Zoo, so that is always an option for us if we run out of things to do. In terms of getting help, maybe you can hire a housekeeper for 2x per month? That's what we do, so I don't worry about the big cleaning jobs (floors, linens, bathroom, kitchen). I just worry about the dishes and laundry, and wiping up messes as they come along. Believe me--that's plenty of housework when you are all alone with a baby. It's difficult to get even that much done on a regular basis. The housekeeper has saved my sanity.

For food, life around here has been made much easier with some premade meals, like Trader Joes, etc. It helps, because when my baby was much younger, I was very bad about getting myself properly fed each day when I was alone. It was just hard! I can't remember how old your baby is, but now that mine is 11 months, it is much easier to feed myself, but I still rely on prepared foods when possible. For me, the fewer steps there are, the more attention I can pay to my baby, and that has to be my priority right now. I can't think of any more tips, but please feel free to write me if you have any questions. Good luck! chang

I have two little ones and my husband travels quite a bit for work, usually 2-3 days, 3-4 weeks of the month. It a rough way of life, I can definitely sympathize with you! You asked about hiring a night nurse because of your daughter's waking, but if you're the one nursing her, I'm not sure how much help it would be to have another adult on hand. My husband isn't much help with the night nursing when he's here! I do think you could use some extra help, though, and you shouldn't hesitate to hire someone to give you some time to yourself. Maybe someone could come in mornings to allow you to get a little extra sleep after your daughter wakes up? Unless you realy want to, you don't have to night nurse forever, either. I only night nursed the first 8 months, even though I nursed my son for 2 full years. The other thing I do is plan a lot of playdates and activities that get us out of the house all day when my husband is travelling. There's nothing worse than being burned out from being at home and then facing a long evening of getting kids to bed all alone. It's also essential that I get in some face time with other adults, even if it's just watching kids together, when I'm home alone. I've always thought it would be a good idea to get together a collective of SAHMs with spouses who travel to share dinners and swap babysitting! Part-time single mom

Yikes! I'm a stay-at-home mom ''commuter widow'' too & I hear ya, sister. We're in the home stretch because my daughter's four now & in preschool. But I vividly remember how exhausted & isolated I felt during her infant & toddler years. Things WILL get easier & also lots more fun for you, I promise.

Here's why:

1. Your daughter will start sleeping long enough for you to get some decent shut-eye, because this is the time when utter exhaustion requires moms to desperately seek help! Talk with your pediatrician & other parents, or browse the parenting Web sites. There are lots of strategies & one of them -- or a combination -- will work for the two of you. After all, she needs sleep, too. You'll both be happier.

2. Your one-year-old is on the brink of becoming more social & you're both ready for the ''mommy social circuit''. You'll start enjoying lots of places that are fun for both you & your child while meeting other parents with young children who can become friends. These friends will be important throughout your child's early years & possibly beyond. Particularly if they live near your immediate neighborhood. For stuff to do with kids, see on this site.

3. You'll figure out what sort of help you need the most & will figure out how to get it. Consider the following: Short, informal babysitter swaps with neighborhood parents so you have 20-40 minutes here & there to run quick errands or take a walk; Ordering groceries online & having them delivered; Hiring a neighborhood kid for a few dollars per hour each afternoon to play with the baby while you make dinner, fold laundry or take a bubble bath; Having someone clean the house each week or every other week; Engaging a personal organizer/assistant to handle your paperwork & balance your check book each month, etc.

The most important thing is for you to find a way to enjoy the limited family time that you have with your husband when he gets home without having too much housework & big household projects on your plate. Good luck -- Still trying to figure this stuff out.

The jobs I want require travel - worried about attachment

Sept 2005

Hi Fellow Parents, I am a first time mother of a 9 month old and am now hitting the job market. I have found that the jobs in my field require travel and find this a little unsettling. Still, I have worked very hard to get to this point. Do other working moms have tips about travel? How long is too long? Do you find that your child becomes anxious or insecurely attached? (I was a psych undergrad and have a MA in human development so am very worried about attachment issues.) Any tips and/or advice would be greatly appreciated! Thanks in advance, Jessica

Hi Jessica, I don't travel that much, but I do travel some (once every couple of months) and began when my daughter was about 10 months. The longest I've been away is 4 days. I think it's harder for me in many ways than for her--the first night I kind of enjoy the freedom but after a few days I pine for her.

I think a few things make it easier for her:

1) My husband is as deeply involved with her as I am. So there's stability there.What's more, rather than thinking of this as harmful to her attachment to you, why not think of it as promoting stronger attachment to him? It's a great time for Dads and kids to bond without the dominant presence of Mom.It's wonderful for their relationship.

2) When I go, her routine remains the same. Routine gives kids a sense of stability.

3) Even before she could understand it, we talked about Mommy going on the airplane and how I'd come back because Mommies always come back. I always said goodbye and she watched me leave (in a taxi or bayporter if I took one, or in my car). I didn't just disappear on her which is upsetting for a chld. When she was older, we'd read the book ''Owl Babies'' which is about a Mama Owl who goes away but always comes back.

4) Despite all this, I didn't make a huge deal about it. Act like it's normal. Also be sure to celebrate coming back together again--say you've come back and you missed him/her etc.

5) When she was very young, she sometimes snubbed me for a short time--a few hours, or even an evening. It's understandable. It's an emotional thing.

And no, it has not affected her attachmentto me, her little psyche or anything. My daughter is 2+ now and is happy and loving and secure. SHe knows that sometimes Mommy or Daddy goes on the airplane but we always come back. Sometimes she pretends to be one of us getting ready to go on the airplane and says goodbye and then says, ''I came back!'' When one of us leaves, we draw a picture of the airplane on the calendar to mark the departure day along with a picture of her and whomever stays behind waving at the plane. Then we draw another picture of the plane coming back on the day of the return. In between, we X off the days before going to sleep at night. And we say goodnight to the absent parent wherever that person is (''Goodnight Mama in New York!'') So, it's all about creating ritual that keeps a sense of routine, order, control for her. And, again, please don't underestimate the value of time with Dad! Mom on the Fly

I felt very much the way you do, so I followed my instincts and just brought my son along on every business trip! It sounds a bit crazy, and maybe in retrospect it was, but at the time it felt like the best thing to do. How did I do it? It was expensive, but a couple times my husband came along to watch our son, another time I flew my mother to North Carolina to meet us and she watched him, a few other times I brought along a babysitter. This, obviously, wouldn't work if you need to travel monthly---I only had to take about four trips a year. All I can say is, if there is a will, there's a way. I just couldn't imagine leaving him, so I made it work.

So I say, trust your instincts----9 months is still very young. My son is now three and I think I could travel if I had to (I've switched jobs so it is no longer an issue). So one way to think of it is travel will be difficult for another 2 years or so, then it will be easier. Either try to take a job that doesn't have much travel, or plan on bringing him temporarily. Good Luck

Jessica, I have had to travel for work since my first child was 3 months old and despite my fears, it has worked out. My first question would be, what kind of system do you have set up at home? Does the child have another parent who can really step up to fill in for you while you are gone? Do you have back up such as a neighbor or relative who will be able to pitch in a bit while you are gone? If the answer to one or both of these is ''no'' it may be hard for you to be away--both on you and the family at home. In my case, my husband is such a super dad that the kids barely notice my absence and he has work flexibility to be around more. We have really made it work (we have no choice!). I have friends who travel and the dad is either inept or working all the time and it is really hard for all. In my experience, after three days I am in acute pain being away and my kids start to show signs of missing me. But every family is different. Week trips are super hard and I try to avoid them at all costs. More than a week is truly anguish. On the plus side, my business trips are the time I have to myself to see movies, take baths, read, etc. Two day trips are like a vacation! Good luck. Elizabeth

Hi - I went back to work after my first child was 5 months old and took my first trip almost immediately. I had pumped enough milk to last while I was gone and took a pump with me to 'pump and dump' to keep the supply up. It was much harder on me than it was on my son from my husband's reports. Apparently he didn't even notice that I was gone. 2 years later I had twins, went back to work after 4 months and took my first trip for a week when they were about 10 months old. They were fine too. I had a nanny who was with them for 12 hours a day anyway so they didn't seem to notice. My trips were much harder on them when they were between the ages of 2 and 4 because they were more aware that I was missing. The teachers at the preschool always could tell when one of us was traveling because our kids were more needy. Now my son is 7 and the twins are 5. I still travel and it's now gotten a bit easier than a couple of years ago. They know now that we travel and we always come back. I can also talk to them on the phone now when I'm away which helps. Despite all the travel, the nannies, the day care and all the other childcare support that we've used over the years, my kids know who mom is and are very very bonded to me. There is no substitute for mommy their minds. So I now understand that all that guilt I felt about leaving them all those times and the worry that they wouldn't bond with me or love me as much as someone who was there with them when I wasn't was all for nothing. working mommy

Please do not worry (well, try your best not to worry) about leaving your baby for business trips. My first trip after my baby was 3 months old was one week in Spain (Grandparents And Nanny on duty because of 1st trip concern), and 3 years and a zillion business trips later, my son is totally well adjusted in that he KNOWS I am coming back - be it from a trip or a day at pre-school or time with a friend on a playdate. The trips started the moment I went back to work, when he was so little, but maybe that helped him as he grew older to combat ''separation anxiety'' - he had (and has) much less of it than other kids I know his age. Whenever possible I try to keep my trips to 3 days/2 nights, but sometimes that is not possible and it's longer. It is ''what it is'' so if you have a great job opportunity, go for it. With all the frequent flier miles, you can have a great family vacation when you choose. It's the time together that counts, and time away is not so bad. Think ''Heavenly Bed.'' And don't worry, your child will know you love them and are there for them - because you will be. Good luck, and do not feel guilty! Susan

Here's what I did when I need to travel and my son was young. I took him along on the first trip (with his Dad as Nanny) when my son was 4 months old. Since this was a luxury we could not really afford, Dad and son stayed home and I traveled with a breast pump until I had weaned my son. I pumped to keep supply up and did not try to store the milk/bring it home. I still travel about once every 6 - 8 weeks for 4 - 7 days at a time, and it does not seem to have affected my bond with my son at all. He is deep in the throws of the typical 18 month old mommy fetish, just like all the books say to expect. I believe that if it's a job that you like and will make you happy, that will be best for everyone in the end. good luck Anonymous please

Helping Kids Cope with an Absent Parent

October 1996

My experience with my child and business travel was as follows:


Yr 1 and under - forgot about missing parent within 1 hour
Yr 2 and under - forgot about missing parent within 1 day
Yr 3 and older - missing parent is sorely missed and punished upon their return for leaving me for whatever amount of time.

As your son is a 1 yr old, my advice is more for YOU. As you will have all of the responsibility for 3 weeks, make your life as easy as you can. Have take-out pizza, burritos, chinese food, etc, in order to decrease the burdens of shopping, cooking, and cleaning up. Have a friend come over (or family member) to help you do the laundry, as this is hard with a one yr old around. And don't worry about the other housework, you will have plenty of time (and help from your spouse) after their return!

Also, get lots of fresh air time (whenever possible) to encourage a good night's sleep for BOTH of you. Good luck! Carolyn

On an absent parent: a couple of small suggestions: keep a picture of the dad around and prominently displayed. Talk about him to keep the memory going. Also, try to plan some special things to do with your child, especially to fill in the gaps that his father would normally have filled. On being a single parent: just make sure you have your priorities straight, i.e., playing with the kid is more important than a clean house. Dianna
We now have more than three years of experience dealing with my husband being gone periodically on business trips and me being the sole parent in his absence. It was easier when my daughter was a baby, but now that she's a very active preschooler, it's much more demanding. A one-year-old probably won't stress too much if kept occupied with interesting and fun activities. I strongly advise arranging with friends and/or relatives for some child care, so that you can get some breaks. Otherwise, you can get very worn out, and you may even find it hard to get ordinary chores done. Good luck! Nancy
Re: Stacy and her husband's business trip away from one-yr. old son: I took my then-one-yr. old son to visit my mom in Fla. for 17 days. Even though I had him talk on the phone to his father, when we returned, he was very, very angry at his father and would push him away and take swipes at his face. In other words, he blamed his father for the absence. Ever since then and up til now, if he doesn't get to spend time with his father in the morning and evening he sometimes rejects his father, but at the same time, he is always, alwasy asking for him, saying Daddy and runs to the door when he hears the sound of his car. Wendy
My husband has traveled several times a year since my daughter was only a couple months old. She tends to have a very even and mellow temperament so I haven't noticed an extreme reaction. When she was a year or less she was, however, more clingy and had a more uneven sleep pattern. She started waking up earlier and earlier in the morning. Now that she is verbal she can express her concerns Daddy work? or where Daddy? so I donUt have to guess about her behavior.

Things that we do to help:

1. Daddy calls as often as possible.

2. Before he leaves, Daddy talks about something they'll do together or something she can take care of for him while he's gone. Mom will follow up by talking about the activity or helping and reminding about the caretaking (like feeding the cat).

3. Go to dinner at friends' homes so I don't have to deal with dinner and my daughter can be with other people/family and be distracted. I am not an ambitious cook during these times at all.

4. Get a babysitter to come in a few times or a mother's helper to shop or help with errands. It's important to give yourself a night or a Saturday off each week because it's a very intense shift of responsibility

5. Acknowledge to your child that she might be missing Daddy even if your child is not yet verbal. Try a time when you think she might be agitated because of Daddy's absence. She may not even really know why she is agitated if she's really young but I am pretty sure she'll be soothed by your saying something like You know, you got up really early this morning. I wonder if you are missing Daddy. I know I miss Daddy and can't wait for him to come back. We'll have fun when he comes back.

6. If your child is a bit older you can try to give her some kind of idea of when he's coming back. When there's only a few days left to his absence I start saying Daddy will be back in three days - that's when you go to sleep, wake up, go to sleep, wake up...etc. I have no idea whether she really gets it but somehow it puts parameters on the absence and limits the time.

These are things I do. I'd love to hear what other parents do. Melanie

When my husband had to be away for a week when our sons were 3 and 1, he did a 20 minute tape recording, telling favorite bedtime stories. Then the boys got to listen to the tape every night in bed (and any other time they asked for it). That seemed to help a lot. My husband also called every night which let the boys each say hi. The 1 year old listened (we used a speaker phone) for a few seconds and wandered away but every day he would go to the tape recorder and ask for daddy.

We have also created a favorite story time character (Andre the mouse) who always goes through possibly traumatic adventures before the boys do (e.g. trips, first day at pre-school, visitors, etc.). About a week before my husband's trip, Andre's daddy had to go away for a week. We talked about it a lot so it was not a surprise when it happened.


Single Parenting and Business Trips

July 2000

I am the single parent of the 3.5 y/o and although I actually have not come up against this yet, I know that someday (in the next 2-5 years) I will have to travel for business/research purposes..for a few days and either not be able to bring my daughter with me or have to bring someone along as a caregiver (we're talking remote places). I definitely will forstall this as long as possible, but the situation presents some problems. Her father lives in Alaska and her paternal grandparents live near Redding. On the other hand, my parents (who live near San Jose) both work 50 hours per week. My roommate, who would be happy to help out, starts work at 5 am, so obviously cannot take her to preschool in the morning. How have other single parents handled this? I know there are lots of options but I don't know which would be best. The way I see it is she could go to her regular preschool and be watched by one of her regular teachers in the evening (I imagine) or go with my parents and I could find some kind of quality childcare program which will take her for a couple of days while my mom is at work. Also, she could stay at home with my roommate and then be transfered (at 4 am while sleeping) to house of one of my friendly single parent neighbors who could take her to school in the morning. I know she will miss me, and I will miss her, but I want this to be as untraumatic as possible. She has stayed at my parents overnight only once. She was okay except that they really couldn't get her to go to sleep. (until 2 am!) Any suggestions? What has worked for you folks in the past? Elizabeth

I have to travel in my job about 6 - 8 times/year or so, since my son was 9 months old; he's 3 1/2 now. I have used many different kinds of arrangements. Luckily my mom, who lives in So. Cal. comes up when I have to be gone for 3 nights. She's 77 and I know can't count on this forever. For shorter trips, 1 - 2 nights, I have a baby sitter who can do it at our house. This is expensive, but sometimes I just have to do it- 100/night. this involves getting my son from day care and taking care of him until dropping him off the next morning. When my son was a baby I used some friends who could do this for a night. Sometimes I can take my son with me, as I'm planning to do this fall for a conference in Boston- which has childcare arrangements and where I have cousins. I took him and my mom to Vancouver last Feb.

I find that my main goal right now is to keep my son's routine as stable as possible, have friends stop by that he's close to, stuff like that. I hear that this will get easier as they get older and start doing overnights at friend's houses. Hope something here helps. Mona

April 1999

I work full time; I'm a single, professional (research), custodial mother of a 3-year-old. I have 2 to 4 out-of-town meetings to attend a year, for anywhere from one to 6 days each. I've found that the situation is difficult-- finding childcare, someone to take care of my child while I am gone. I've already tried bringing him with me to short meetings (which I love to do!), but it's hard (with a child) to pay attention fully to the meeting throughout its duration). My child attends a childcare school 9 hours a day, Monday through Friday. I would need someone to stay at our home (or possibly take him into their home), and do all the parent things: wake him up, feed him breakfast, make him lunch, take him to school, be available if he gets sick (fortunately, this is rare), pick him up, feed him dinner, read him a story, tuck him into bed, and provide love and a fun and caring environment for him. My child's father isn't available to take care of our child while I'm gone. I don't have any family nearby. We moved a year ago, and I anticipate another move or two in the next 5 years, so I don't know a lot of people, and by the time I will have formed a network, we'll move again. Neighbors are not really an option, most are young and single (and have nightlives or jobs/careers that require them to be available 10 or 12 hours a day). I've joined a single parents group, but it does not (apparently) have parents like me whose one big concern is what to do when you need to go out of town for a professional meeting for a few days. I've talked around at my child's school, and I have not yet (!) found another single professional custodial parent. Are there any other single mothers (or fathers) out there that, like me, have out-of-town meetings to attend a few times a year; if so, what do you do when you need to be out of town for a few days? I'd be grateful for any suggestions.

perhaps asking any of the parents (or teachers, or assistant teachers) at your child's preschool would be an option, and offer to pay them or perhaps reciprocate for other parents. that way your child would know the person fairly well (and would have a well-known playmate if he stayed with another preschool family). the assistants at my child's preschool are college students and some of them do babysitting on off hours - if I had a similar situation, I would probably ask one of them if they could house-sit and child-sit for me, and pay them. Also, if you take him on short business trips, sometimes hotels have child-care available that you could take advantage of during your actual meetings.
A suggestion: think about changing your housing situation. Look for other single parents or a family to share housing with -- with the understanding that you will take these trips and that at other times you would be available to care for other children. We did this -- my husband, myself and our three kids lived with two single mothers -- one with one kid and one with two kids. It worked for the most part. I think it is easiest on the kids -- they stay in their house, in their rooms, with folks they have already been living with. One has to be willing to make changes and accept that alternate housing might be a good idea. You can find web sites for both co-housing and alternative housing that will help you find people and houses and communities. Good luck.
I'm also a single mom, and the only parent of my kids. In truth, I haven't taken as many business trips since becoming a mom as I used to, but they're not unheard of. It's very hard to find young, non-parent sitters to do what moms do -- I've actually had a few tell me flat out that what I do *outside* of my job is too much work for one person. What's worked the best for me is exchanges with other families. The easiest way is to try to arrange this with a family of a child your son knows from daycare, as you've been trying to do. Make sure you don't limit your search to single professionals who take business trips -- I've done successful exchanges with couples and with people who just need a vacation.
You might try posting a notice at one of the schools where English as a Second Language is taught. Berkeley Adult School is one place. Many of these students are here for a fairly long term and tend to be older students with a strong desire for family life because they are so far from home. We have such a live-in student in our household, and in our case, she's a mother who had to leave her son behind in China. She's very responsible and has a mother's instinct about what to do under a variety of circumstances. Surely there must be other students who are in similar circumstances.

Taking baby on a Business Trip

Since 3 months seems pretty early to have a long separation between mom and baby, I'd recommend doing whatever you can to bring the baby. Is there a friend or relative who can accompany you on the trip? Maybe your office will help pay their airfare? If not, ask the conference organizers to do everything they can to find someone there to be with your baby when you can't. They can talk to the hotel folks-- there's got to be someone who can do it. Good luck!
We had luck through a chanber of commerce. A day care operator was reffered, who could also refer independant sitters. You can then interview by phone, get, refs etc.