Recently, I had to go to South Korea for work and leave my family behind – a 12-month-old, a three-year-old, and a husband who works full-time. There was a little bit of stress in the preparation and lead up, but it actually went well for my family and showed me that, as a professional working woman, I can go away for a week and the whole house isn’t going to fall apart.
I did three things to enable this.
Firstly, I put a support structure in place, which relates to the mental wellbeing building blocks of connectivity and goal achievement. I scheduled friends, family and babysitters in for every afternoon, particularly for the 4pm–7pm stressful block of getting the kids home from childcare, fed, bathed and put to bed. Having this team of people and a support structure in place helped the kids continue a somewhat normal routine and, more importantly, it alleviated stress on my husband and helped him feel less alone.
The second thing I did was extra planning and scheduling. I had a fridge full of simple ingredients and a straightforward meal plan on the fridge, I booked a cleaner to come in and help out with tidying the house, and I scheduled regular daily FaceTime chats with my family. I also took out an overseas phone plan so I could send my husband lots of encouraging and supportive texts.
The third thing I did was empower my husband. I told him, “I totally trust and support you, just do whatever you need to do to get through the week. You are a great parent, so have fun – you can do this.” It was important to actually articulate my trust and belief in him. To be honest, as long as everyone was safe, then that was enough.
By doing these three things (the ‘why’), it enabled my week away to be positive, not just for me, but for my husband and my family (‘what went well’).
It’s a simple approach, but now I feel confident that next time I have the opportunity to travel for important work, I will be less likely to hesitate. In fact I’ll probably be more excited to go, drawing on this past success to propagate my future success.