I’m a working mommy and about 20% of my career responsibilities include spending time on the road or away from home. During Baby A’s first year of life it felt like my heart was being ripped out each time I left him and before he was born I had a very difficult time saying goodbye to my husband. I just miss them both when I have to be away.
Most often I try to make arrangements for my family to join me during longer conferences. Daddy D and I will take my already booked travel arrangements, purchase tickets (with our personal funding), and make additional plans for our family around my work obligations. This is a breeze in the summer time because I’m married to a wonderful teacher. There are times during the school year, however, that Daddy D cannot join me with our son. I used to beat myself up over these times. I would fret on the plane, obsess about the well-being of my family, count the minutes until I could return home and feel guilty the entire time I was away.
I’ve since learned to shed this traveling mommy guilt. It wasn’t healthy for me and it didn’t benefit my loved ones. Even though my marriage and family are my first priorities, my career is also of high importance to me. There are certain obligations I want to make sure I fulfill and traveling comes with the territory, so to speak. Letting go of this guilt helps me be an even better employee and learner. Instead of fretting, I live in the moment and cherish whatever I have the opportunity to enjoy when I am away or at home. Because of this, I am a more engaged wife and mom, too.
So, when I’m on the road, these are the guilty pleasures I choose to enjoy…and not feel guilty about:
I Take Ridiculously Long Showers
When I’m at home, I try to make my time in the bathroom as quick as possible. Often, our toddler is knocking on the door or wanting to join me no matter what I’m doing in there! During the workweek I want as much time with my family as I can get, including in the mornings, so I am a speedy shower woman! I sometimes get through my routine so quickly my husband asks if I even rinsed off! When I am in a hotel by myself there is no morning routine to attend to. I have plenty of time to shave my legs without an audience and I have yet to run out of hot water. I can take my time with my own body and my own cleansing process and there is something truly refreshing about this for me.
I Have a Glass of Wine
During the times I’m not obligated to work responsibilities, I will indulge in a guilt-free glass of wine. Many would say that this isn’t really a guilty pleasure because it’s not that hard to do the same at home. However, that overwhelming feeling of responsibility is hard for me to shake when I’m in charge of my son’s well-being. Additionally, sitting still for any prolonged amount of time…even over dinner…isn’t something that happens in our toddler inhabited home! There is something to be said for sitting still and indulging in a glass of red wine.
I Watch What I Want, When I Want, for How Long I want
Back to that sitting down thing…it just doesn’t happen in our home right now. Sometimes I don’t even realize until we are putting our son in bed that I’ve not had one moment to sit since walking through the door after work. This makes it hard to reflect, read, enjoy a meal, or watch a newscast. When I’m on the road, I have learned to enjoy breakfast in silence or in front of an iPad. I will stay up late to enjoy a movie because I know there won’t be a toddler to wake me at the break of dawn. Or, I watch something totally unsuitable for underage eyes because I know he won’t be walking into the room. In some ways this re-grounds me in adulthood and allows me to enjoy pop culture or catch up on worldly events.
I Pamper Myself
It doesn’t matter how big or small, but I always do my best to do something for myself when I’m on the road. Sometimes I’ll schedule an evening massage or find a place to get a pedicure. I’ll also sit in the hot tub at the hotel or splurge on a meal. There are times when I buy a cute scarf that took me an hour to pick out simply because I decided to enjoy a solitary shopping experience. If I’m well prepared, I’ll purchase a book in hard copy and read it cover to cover before I return home. It makes no difference what the “treat” is, but I try hard to give a gift to me during the time when I have a break from thinking about everyone else.
I Miss My Family
Not only do I long for my family, they miss me. I’ve gotten a handle on being appreciative of the fact that I have wonderful people to miss. When I’m away and my heart aches for my husband and son I am reminded of the precious blessings I take for granted at times. Absence truly makes my heart grow fonder which is good for my sex life and selfishly, I love the excitement and warm reception I receive when I return home. After soaking up the happiness of being reunited, it’s easy to excitedly take part in our family life together.
Although little by some forms of measure, these pleasures are what help me to cope with being away from my family when I have to travel for work. I’ve learned to enjoy the time I have to spend away from them and this helps me better appreciate the time I do have. It has taken me two years to overcome my feelings of working mommy guilt. Accepting that these negative feelings are unhealthy for me and our family, I’ve been able to embrace little pleasures as they present themselves in my life and enjoy them in a guilt free way.
This list isn’t all encompassing. What other pleasures do you indulge in when you get a break from mommyhood?
*All photos from Free Stock Photos.