So your maternity leave is now up and it’s time to go back to the career you love. Let’s remind ourselves why we are in this situation. You obviously have a career because you studied something that you love and you want to continue doing it. Not to mention, help provide for your family monetarily. These are all wonderful things and you shouldn’t feel guilty about them, especially if you’ve worked hard at climbing the corporate ladder.

The best way to make your business travel experience enjoyable for you and the little ones at home is, of course, to be prepared. Here are 6 ways busy career moms can prep for their upcoming business travel.

1. Set Expectations

The expectation is super important when traveling for business, both for the parents and the child. Never spring the news of a business trip on your child last minute. Clearly explain when you are leaving, why you are leaving, and when you expect to come back. The ‘why’ is super important here. Both you and your child should understand that what you are doing for your job is important and you shouldn’t be ashamed of that. Be an example to your child that building a career is hard work and there are rewards.

2. Keep Kids Comfortable at Home While You Travel For Business

Whether the kids are staying at home or staying at Grandma’s, you want to make sure they are happy for your peace of mind. And there are some things you can do to get them excited.

  • Keep a packing list on your phone and make sure their favorite items are on there: cozy blanket, favorite pacifier or favorite stuffed animal that they can’t live without.

  • Stock the fridge with treats and goodies that you don’t normally get them like cupcakes or ice cream.

  • Leave them little notes or surprises around the house. You can leave them in toy boxes or their drawers. Nothing fancy, this could be games from the dollar store. Put a note on it to remind them you are thinking of them.

  • Do a countdown for when mommy gets home. This can be a simple chart with boxes that they cross off every day before bed.

  • Use a map to show where mommy is. This will help them to understand where you are and it will be a geography lesson!

3. Make a Detailed To-Do List

I’m a huge believer in list-making to ensure nothing falls through the cracks. I use the Paperless app to make many lists, including packing lists for each child. PRO TIP: Make a separate list for things you need to take to Grandma’s or the sitter’s house. If you are anything like my mom, she gladly keeps a ton of stuff at her house including clothes and pajamas so your regular packing list doesn’t apply, thankfully. You also want to make sure your packing list is up to date, and you stock the fridge before leaving. Finally, make sure to share your travel itinerary with your partner so that he or she knows where you are staying and when to pick you up.

4. Schedule Time to Connect with the Kids

You are going to miss those cute faces so you want to make sure you don’t miss the opportunity to see them. Most of my travel was in Europe so I knew that my lunchtime was going to be dedicated to FaceTiming with the kids.

  • FaceTime with the kids whenever possible

  • Make sure whoever is staying with the kids sends you photos and videos to light up your day!

  • Mail them a postcard

  • A really fun activity is to take one of their favorite stuffed animals with you. Take photos of the animal throughout your travels. Is their favorite animal friend visiting the Eiffel tower or sitting with you at a meeting? Either way, it gives your child a glimpse to what you are doing and connects them to something they love.

  • Schedule a fun activity for when you get back. It could be as simple as going to the ice cream shop or go big and visit a theme park. Point is, make sure you have a plan to connect with your family once you are back home. Phone free, of course.

5. Negotiate Additional Time at Home

I know this may not be possible for everyone but you’ll never know unless you ask! My company was very good about providing comp days for any weekend or holiday I was traveling. If you are lucky enough to get unlimited PTO, schedule a day or two before or after your business trip

6. Spoil Them Upon Your Return

Kids will be excited to see you when you come back but they also love when you bring something back! Don’t be afraid to use this as a teaching opportunity. Explain where you are going and what that place has to offer, such as See’s Candies from California. Let them pick what they want you to bring back. Or just bring back what they love. There was a Disney store by me in Vancouver so I picked up some princess pajamas for my daughter and a Lion Guard towel and goggles for my son.

So as you prepare to travel the world, know that traveling on your own can be very beneficial. Meeting new people is an incredible networking opportunity. I’m a strong believer that traveling can expand your mind and creativity. Use these opportunities to be empowered and inspired. You are a shining example to your children and they will see that as they get older.