Focusing on work when you’re away from your kids for days at a time can be challenging. Instead of rising at the crack of dawn to start preparing lunches, breakfasts, laying out clothes for school each day, you find you’re stuck in a hotel room worrying about how well the family is coping while you’re away.
Sound familiar? If you find yourself worrying about what’s going on at home while you’re away on business, try preparing with these five tips to get the house in order and the kids on your side before you leave.
Cook, zip and freeze
Takeaway doesn’t need to be on the menu while you’re away. Cook up a baking dish full of cheesy lasagne, a tray full of bacon and egg muffins and pan fry some mince burger patties (hide minced carrot and veggies in the patties) so you’ve got breakfast, lunch and dinner sorted. The patties are the most versatile and are easy for dad and the kids to build their own burgers and then pop them under the grill for a quick dinner.
Once cooled, divide up each of these dishes into separate ziplock or freezer bags for each day of the week and label the bag with a pen. Aside from milk and toast, these baked treats are meals for any time of the day and can even go with the kids to school in their lunch boxes.
Write a schedule in rainbow textas
To avoid texta being drawn on the lounge while you’re away, create a new drawing corner for the kids in the kitchen. Give them each a piece of paper and draw a column for each day of the week you’re away. Let them label 1 to 5 what their tasks are from the moment they get up out of bed each morning, down to the detail of where they go in the house or the fridge to get ready for school that day.
Each time they complete a task, they must go into the kitchen and cross it off the list before they can move onto the next task.
Plan Skype or FaceTime sessions
While all Best Western hotels offer free wi-fi, you can usually get an internet password from a hotel’s reception so you’re not paying for your phone data usage. Give the kids a choice of two times each afternoon, such as after homework or after they’ve crossed off helping dad lay out clothes for the next school day, and have them pick which time for you to call them using Skype or FaceTime. It’s an app you can easily download to your phone, tablet or laptop.
This is particularly helpful to help you stay focused on your business trip. Instead of trying to factor in when the best time is to call around their dinner time and your work tasks, set a time with the help of your husband or baby sitter so the daily chats work in with you.
Give correct phone numbers
If hiring a babysitter, make sure they have the correct phone number to reach you. It’s the simplest thing we know we need to leave on the fridge or by the phone, and often the easiest to forget. Add to this the contact details of the hotel where you’re staying and a co-worker’s phone number. Just make sure you tell them when not to call. (Example: when you’re in the middle of surgery or giving a speech.)
Plan a reward for the kids when you get back
Make sure there’s a nice surprise for the kids when you return home. If they got all their tasks ticked off and stuck (mostly) to their routine, then promise to take them out for a special trip. This could be a day at the zoo, taking the dog to the beach, seeing a movie or planning the next family holiday.
Like being rewarded for a job well done at work, your kids’ ability to stay focused is just important to help you get ahead and keep performing in your job.
Maybe arrive home with a surprise for dad, too.
Are you a working mum? How do you manage to stay focused on work and keep the kids organised while you’re away on business?