One young mother’s work travel storyI was standing in line at my favorite local Chinese restaurant behind a young woman, perhaps in her late 20s, when I heard her say something to the woman taking her order about having to travel for her job. Turns out that while she was on her last job-related trip her five-year-old son had discovered this place.Her first day back, he excitedly showed her around his new restaurant. And now she was on a mission to surprise him by bringing home a takeout order of, in his words, “the best chicken with broccoli ever.”We started talking, and I learned that she works in the cosmetics industry and recently – and reluctantly – made a career decision to accept a job assignment that requires her to travel for two weeks, and then lets her work from the base office back here in New York for the other two weeks.
The real struggle for any motherOf course, the struggle in making this decision was can she leave her young son and husband for that long and that often, and is it worth it for her to do that just for her career? I know she’s not alone in making tough career decisions.The answer she came up with was yes. But she only accepted the assignment for a year, hoping after that she will be in a position to negotiate an assignment closer to home. Do you think she made the right decision? She thinks so.As she explained to me, the thing that makes this work for her and her family – at least for now – is that her husband has stepped up big time. He was always involved in raising their son, but she says that with her away, he’s learned how to relate to their son in an even stronger way … and she can see the positive results.
Can This Career Decision Really Work?Now, I’m not saying the key to good parenting is always about leaving your kid with his or her father; but in their case, his willingness to support her and be there for his son 100% seems to have made a huge difference.Apart from having a partner who is helping to make all this possible, our young career mother also shared her secret for making job travel work for her. When she’s on the road, she says she is there giving it her all, even if it means 18 hour days. (With precious phone and Skype calls home, of course.)But when she’s home, she spends as much quality time with her family as she can. She makes sure they know that, no matter how hard she works and how often she has to go away, they are what matter to her above all.As an unexpected bonus, she also told me that the balance is even better when she’s home now – she doesn’t have to be bad cop all the time!
A few more thoughtsDo I think it’s going to be a long year for them? Yes, I do. This has got to be really hard on all of them.And there is absolutely no guarantee that this career decision is going to be what skyrockets her career to the top. But sometimes, in your career and in life in general, you just have to take a chance. And she decided this was hers.What do you think?
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