Today we’re bringing you our second of four “traveling moms,” each with their own perspective on balancing family and work. Adele Hixon-Day is a fundraising professional, mom of four, and resident of Memphis, Tennessee. She’s a fellow mother of twins (though hers are her two middle children), and she works hard to be a successful businesswoman and mother. Though a new position has allowed her to travel less often, she has some great tips for working parents.
Tell us a little about you and your family.
My husband and I have four kids; 9,5,5,18 months. I am a Director of Development (fundraiser) and my husband works in banking. Working in fundraising there are a lot of nights and weekends when I have to be away from home. I am fortunate to work for a family oriented non profit where I can bring my kids to some events to help out or they can hang around the office when school is out. My 9 year old is officially a Jr. employee with all the help she provides (child labor???) :^)
I understand your job includes some travel. How often do you travel, and how long is your average trip? What is the longest you’ve been away from your kids?
The longest I have been away was 7 days and it was terrible. When traveling for work I had to learn what my threshold was for being away from my kids. Most of the time they cared that I was gone, but I also need their hugs and kisses to make it through the week. When I was traveling for work I would be gone for 3-5 days a month every other month. There is a bright side to traveling for work that I miss. Quiet nights in a hotel room by yourself is quite restorative.
What are some things you do before you travel to keep your household running smoothly? Any tips for other parents who need to travel?
Being a tightly wound “type A” individual I would set their clothes out for the week for my husband, make the meals and freeze them, (always something easy for him to throw in the oven) and ask my mother-in-law to check in on my husband and the kids. Most of this was to make me feel better about leaving them. My husband enjoyed the ability to have cereal or Eggos for dinner while I was gone.
What about once you are out of town? Is there anything that you try to do from afar to help your kids and spouse?
Facetime is KEY. I would call to wake them up, or they would call me, and I would call to put them in bed. With four kids in three different after school activities, I would reach out to some of the other moms to check in in case my husband needed help with drop of or pick up. Sometimes we would choose to skip activities that week if it was too much.
Do you ever find it difficult to get into work mode and out of mom mode? Any tips for utilizing your time well and learning to compartmentalize?
I am always in mom mode. Sometimes when I am super stressed at work I send old pics of the kids when they were babies to my husband to reminisce and make me happy. My cell phone (apple watch) is always on and the school or daycare’s number are set to ring no matter what. It can get incredibly stressful; working, mom”ing” and being a wife. A lot of my kids classmates don’t work so I feel additional pressure to attend their events at school so they won’t be the only one without a parent there. I missed a Valentine’s Day party once and I still hear about it today. I also try to manage my kids expectations. When I know I can’t be there at a program I lean on the teachers or other moms to send me pics so I can still see it and let the kids know that even though I wasn’t there I know what happend. I try to let them know ahead of time that I won’t be a parties or programs if I know I can’t make it. I also love bringing them to (family friendly) work events so they can see me in action and see that work is important and fun for me as well.
Quiet time is very important to me. As a mom and a supervisor I am constantly solving problems, putting out fires, and keeping an eye on what is coming up. I like watching TV to decompress (Scandal!!). I also try to carve out time at work to get personal stuff done. It’s hard to pay bills or review homework at home because everything is a coloring book with my toddler and any paper is fair game for my son to turn into an airplane. I also find I am in a more organized mindset sitting behind my desk than I am at the kitchen table.
I also depend on my friends and other moms A LOT. I believe it takes a village to raise a child and it takes a tribe to support a mother. I am never afraid to ask for help or check in to see if I’m being crazy. Above all I try to remember what is most important and that time is fleeting. I want to enjoy every laugh, tear, and sibling squabble.
Have you ever had a total traveling parent fail? Anything that didn’t work or that went really poorly?
Being gone for 7 days was a fail for me. I was a complete mess couldn’t concentrate on my work, and I was really grouchy because I just wanted to be home with my family.
Do you have any advice for parents in general, but especially moms, who find themselves balancing a demanding job and parenting? Any words of wisdom?
My advice is you can do it! Stay organized and be flexible. Being a working mom is so hard, but for me it is so worth it. I love what I do, I love my work team and I absolutely love being a mom and a wife. I couldn’t do any of it without my husband and I try to praise him every chance I get. Also never be afraid of asking for help. Reach out to people on FB or other moms and dads at the kids school. Teachers are a good resource too because they have seen it all!