So I go into action, first calling my mother (who happens to be French, has a large family that live in Paris…and who is the primary caregiver during the day while I am at work), and then I start looking up plane tickets and hotels. The only way for me to be able to go on this business trip is to take the baby, and therefore, I need to take my mother to care for her while I am at work.
In turn, I need to take my 4-year-old son as well, since he would be otherwise left without a caretaker while we are away. Tickets are bought, hotel reservations made (which is a process on its own, since I need is a place with a kitchen, so that we can prepare food for the kids and are not forced to eat every meal out), bags are packed, and we are off!
The week goes by relatively well. Interestingly enough, we have dinner rather late every night, and the kids do not get to sleep before 1 am or 2 am every night, therefore never fully adjusting to the timezone change. They sleep in until 11:00 am or noon, so they do get their rest. But once the work week comes around, I have to wake up by 7:00 am, so that I can have time to nurse the baby (in her sleep), get ready and make it to my client’s office in time for our meetings.
I am running on barely 5 or 6 hours of sleep (I am used to getting to bed by 11:00 pm every night and waking at 7:00 am), so I am tired to say the least. On Tuesday night, I need to go out with the client for dinner, so do not make it back ‘home’ until late. The baby is crying (because she is tired, and is looking for her bedtime breast), my son is bouncing off the walls (because he hadn’t seen me all day, and has to tell me all about his adventures with his French cousins), and I feel like I just want to pass out from the long day.
I can’t get to sleep until the kids are asleep, which doesn’t happen until 2 am. The baby feels the need to keep nursing throughout the night (thank goodness I co-sleep, however it does keep me from sleeping soundly), perhaps to make up the soothing that she missed throughout the day. So 7:00 am comes a lot quicker the next morning.
I am a mess in my meetings the next day and am starting to wonder if it was a mistake to bring the kids with me…thankfully, I only have 3 days of meetings to contend with. On the last day, the meetings end early, and I surprise everyone by showing up shortly after lunch. We decide to have a fun afternoon and visit the Eiffel Tower (the one thing that my son asked for daily since finding out that we were going to Paris) and have a fun evening visiting Paris as tourists.
The trip on the whole was hard for me to deal with working and mothering (while away from home…it’s hard enough when I am home 🙂 ), in addition to trying to squeeze in seeing the entire extended family, on lack of sleep and change in time zones. The kids, on the other hand ,had fun and got to see family, which would probably have waited until at least next spring.
They were immersed in French (which they only hear from my mother and I at home) language and culture, and picked up some new vocabulary and favorite new pastries (like their daily pain au chocolate!).
Will I take them with me again? I am not sure. Hopefully my next business trip will be after the baby is weaned, so that I can choose what I want to do, as opposed to having to take her with me to meet her needs. Interestingly enough, this was not the first time that I traveled with my family for work, because I was nursing. I did a similar trip to Boston when my son was 6 months old, which was a very different experience. The similarity was that it was hard to balance working and mothering while away from home.
I can say that I am lucky though. I know people who weaned their babies much earlier than they wanted to in order to go on business trips – it’s not a choice that I would ever want to make.
Have you ever traveled for work with your child(ren)? How was the experience for you?
Photo credit to Philippe Put http://www.flickr.com/photos/34547181@N00/6338146616/in/photostream. This photo has a creative commons attribute license.