On Monday I am told, “you need to go to Paris for 3 days next week.” I say “OK”, but think, “How can I pull that one-off? I am still nursing!”.
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.
I traveled with kids (not my own though) once and it was not a positive experience. It was difficult balancing between having some fun and attending to their needs. I guess you have to plan carefully before you go on a trip with them. They were having more fun than I actually did.
Traveling with kids, no matter who’s they are and what the reason is never easy. We just have to remember not to expect anything, and be flexible enough to go with whatever life throws at you. And most importantly just have fun!
Thanks for stopping by!
I recently took my kids to Washington, DC for the UN Foundation’s Volunteer Summit because I was still breastfeeding the little one! It is so much to juggle! But, if there’s a will, there’s a way!
Thanks for sharing your story!
I was wondering if you took the girls with you Jen (although I pretty much knew the answer 🙂 ). It is a lot to juggle, and is the sacrifices that we make as mothers. A few years down the road we will look back on it (much as I do on the trip that I took with my son 5 years ago) as a fond memory of the small sacrifices we made in order to stick with the choice that we made as breast feeding mothers. 🙂
Maman Aya, your account actually made me feel envious (ok, just a tad) 🙂
You were able to get it all done, see the extended family and keep the kids close.
I don’t think I would even try. The co-sleeping bit, and not being able to sleep soundly is so interesting, because that’s the one thing that hubby can never get. Oh well, moms do it all don’t we?
Glad you made it back in one piece.
The co-sleeping is a whole other topic (I think I have my next post brewing – thanks Salma!). Getting back was a whole other nightmare, but we did make it back – finally – in one peice. We do whatever it takes 🙂
Thanks for stopping by!
I LOVE that you took your kids with you. We are so often told to put our own needs first – yet biology demands that we put them first for those first few years, at least. Such pressures to balance it all at the same time for so many Mums.
I feel like “pressures to balance it all” is an understatement. Honestly as tiring as it was, I enjoyed it as well. Especially taking my son to the Eiffel tower – his reaction was “that’s it? It’s kind of small!”. LOL!
Thanks for stopping by Karyn!
My first thought is what a crazy woman but that is then followed by immense awe that you do what you need to and still involve your children. Mums need to live the lives they want / need but sometimes the kids just get pushed aside which I think is a little sad.
It’s a very difficult task you have – mothering and working outside the home but also lucky that you have your mum to help you make it possible.
Good luck with the juggling
Your first thought is the right one – I am certainly a crazy woman 😉
I am lucky to have my mother – I honestly don’t know how I would do it with ought he help.
Thanks for stopping by Fi!
I had to travel to Hong Kong for a couple of days, in a similar situation: I was still nursing, so Charlotte had to come. And then my hubby had to come to take care of Charlotte. It all worked out pretty well. Though there have been several business trips that I’ve missed out on cause I couldn’t figure a way to make it work. Those times, I just gave Charlotte extra hugs; I would’ve rather been with her than in meetings anyway 🙂
I have had to make the choices to stay home from other trips too because I was still nursing, and I completely agree with you – I would much rather be home with her anyway! Thanks for stoping by!
I love your determination to make everything work out by bringing your kids on your work trip, and you even made sure you had valuable family visits on top of it! Amazing. I would have bulked, weak-kneed. I have a lot of doubts about what it will be like when I go back to work in the coming year but your post made me realize that it’s all possible, and to learn as I go and take note of teaching moments. Thanks for the inspiration!
I forgot to mention that we like to have kitchen access as well when we travel because of the kids, and I recently came upon a global short-term vacation rental site that looks promising for finding apartments or houses at reasonable rates. Not sure if the url will come through on this comment but it is http://www.airbnb.com (www-dot-airbnb-dot-com just in case). Bon voyage!
Yes, it is all possible! You just have to decide to do it and not be afraid to take that leap. Good luck going back to work – I cried on my first day back – – both times – but I am glad I did.
Thanks for the website, I will certainly look it up. And thanks for stopping by!
Wow, Maman Aya, I was exhausted just READING about your decision and trip. I’m amazed the stress and exhaustion alone didn’t dry up your supply. It was a marvel that the trip was to a place where you had family and could bring family. The closest I ever got to this was the summer after I had my first child and I was job hunting. There were several times when I had to do phone interviews while I was either pumping or nursing and when I made it to the final rounds in a a few places, I had to leave my husband and infant in the car to drive around during my interview, often nursing right before and right after.
Lol Kyla – to me your interview sounds more exhausting than my trip :)! Although I can relate to being on calls while pumping or nursing… I have had MANY of those.
I was really lucky that the trip was to Paris (it’s always been my second home) and was glad that everyone could finally meet the newest member of the family.
Wow! You’re a brave woman! I definitely don’t think I could do what you did. In face, I kind of think of the rare business travel as a mom-cation. I luxuriate in the solo plane ride – no matter how long – and the sleepless nights. But at least you got to visit family and your kids got to see the sites. Definitely should get easier with older kids who don’t need to nurse!
I could not agree with you more, about the business travel being a mom-cation. The few trips that I took after weaning my son and before having my daughter, certainly felt that way. Soon I won’t be nursing the baby, and business trips will be just that. 🙂
Thanks for stoping by!
Kudos to you! I am a SAHM and haven’t had to do anything like this, but I love your can-do attitude. Great story!
Thanks Tara! That’s the great thing about being moms…we can choose to do it all! 🙂
Thanks for stoping by.
I loved your post, what a great experience! I travelled a lot with my son when he was a baby, both while doing reaseach in the field (I was getting my master’s when he was born) and for my job at the time. It was not always easy, but also fun in so many ways!! It is so hard to leave him behind and I only managed to do that once when he was 6!! 🙂 Now with the toddler (she just turned one and is still breastfeeding) I will be going to a conference in Australia in July, just the two of us in terms of family, but with two colleagues who promised to help out. I am very excited because it is a place I have always wanted to visit, yet I know it is going to be hard especially because it is such a long flight.
Long flights do make it harder when traveling with kids, but once you are there I hope you have an amazing time (I went to Australia with my sister about 10 years ago and loved it!). The hardest part will be the time change for the little one – she won’t know when to eat and when to sleep. At least you won’t be completely alone!
Safe travels! 🙂
I teach school and my superintendent wants me to go on a field trip to New York and I am still breastfeeding and he refuses to let me take my 15 month old. My plan was to take my husband along and nurse her in the morning and evening and spend the day with the group while my husband took care of her. I obviously would not be able to express my milk during the day so I felt like this was a good compromise. Can he legally force me to wean my breastfeed baby?
Wow Elaine! I can’t imagine that he can force you to wean your baby. Especially since its so easy, and if your husband will be caring for her while you are “working” (and no additional expense will be incurred by the school), why not allow you to do so. That being said, I am not in any position to give legal advice, but if you do feel strongly about it, do you have an option of not going? Alternatively, can you pump enough ahead of time to store up for the time while you are away? You would be able to express your milk during the trip (most hotels will bring a small fridge to you room to store it) and you can pack it with ice packs for the return trip home (you can travel through airports with expressed milk without a baby – I’ve done it on several occasions for short trips that I have taken, and if the milk was never frozen, it can be out of the refrigerator for up to 8 hours). Good luck Elaine! Let us know how it goes.