For our last installation (for now) in our traveling mom series, we’re hearing from Rachel Hubbard, a busy, successful mom of four. With four kids ranging from six-years-old to just one, Rachel is great at balancing work and family, and she was gracious enough to share some insight with us below.
Tell us a little about you and your family (ages, what you do, etc).
Hello, I’m Rachel! I am married to my favorite person and we have four little kiddos – three girls (6, 5, and 3) and one boy (1). I am in technology sales covering our key strategic accounts, which means large demanding companies!
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?
I recently switched to a role that allows me to travel a bit less (although I’m typing this from a plane to Miami), but prior to January I was traveling about ever other week for the past few years. The longest I have been away from kids is a week, but that is a rarity. I really try to limit my trips to two days and one night away.
What are some things you do before you travel to keep your household running smoothly? Any tips for other parents who need to travel?
Since my husband and I both work in pretty demanding jobs, planning is crucial to keeping our household going. I *try* to make sure we are stocked on groceries, the meals are planned, the clothes are clean, and the house is somewhat orderly before I leave on a trip. We also make a point to talk about anything upcoming that we need to be aware of so we can prep for things like snack days, gymnastics events, friends over, 100 days of school events, etc. Also, we live and die by our family google calendar. It is truly the brains of our operation.
What about once you are out of town? Is there anything that you try to do from afar to help your kids and spouse?
I try to facetime every night so I can stay connected. If there is something that is coming up, I typically try to text my husband and remind him the morning of or night before, but if we’ve planned properly it’s pretty smooth sailing.
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 don’t know a mom that doesn’t suffer from mommy guilt on some level! Of course, I struggle with being away sometimes. But in terms of getting out of work mode and into mom mode, I don’t struggle with that too much. I view it as these are just two facets of who I am as a whole. I love being a mom more than anything, but also firmly believe that working makes me a better mother, wife, and person.
I do set some rules for me, but they are less about work related activities and more about distractions in general. For example, I minimize the amount of email and phone interaction from the time the kids get home until after bedtime. My bosses, clients, and co-workers know that if they email me during this time that I will not respond until after the kids are in bed. That is my time with them. And I am a big believer in quality over quantity. I get a limited amount of hours with my kids each day so that time is critical that I am completely focused on them.
I do share some high level details about my job with my kids. They know my boss’s name and I’ll tell them if I have a big meeting or am working on a big project. I think it’s so importantly for kids to understand that parents feel the same emotions as they do. I tell my kids when I’m nervous about a big meeting, frustrated about something that I didn’t get right, or excited for a big win. I think open communication with kids (on their level of course) encourages open communication and sharing of their emotions.
Plus, the feminist in me loves my girls seeing their mom have a career. I am still shocked how many meetings I am in where I am the only woman at my level – and very often the only mom. I love showing my girls that you can be both a mom and have a career.
Have you ever had a total traveling parent fail? Anything that didn’t work or that went really poorly?
Of course! I’ve forgotten permission slips, snacks, special outfits, etc. I think my biggest parenting fail was my initial attitude that my kids would just be dying to tell me all the details of their day. In reality, their attention span for facetiming with me at the end of their busy day is about 35 seconds. A few years ago, I would leave every conversation a little disappointed. What I realized is that I have to set realistic expectations and now I’m happy if I just get to see their little faces. I’ll ask them to tell me one thing that happened that day. It’s hilarious. Some days that leads to full conversations and other times they say, “I ate lunch today”.
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?
Give yourself a break. I think as parents, especially moms and wives, we are so hard on ourselves. We want to be everything for everyone, especially our children. But that is not reality and, I believe, not a healthy standard to set. Relax. Your house is going to be a wreck and laundry will pile up. Sometimes you need to pull an audible and give you kids PB&J for dinner. You have lots of balls in the air and inevitably sometimes something will drop. Just pick it up and move on.
Ask for help. In that same vein, ask for help. I learned this the hard way. I can’t possibly keep everything going and there are certain things that I can outsource – house cleaning, groceries, etc. Once I realized this, I felt my anxiety level instantly come down. I also have a great network for friends, family, and sitters that I call on frequently for help. Amazon prime everything.
Team work makes the dream work. Having a supportive husband has been one of my biggest blessings. Work as a team with your husband and trust him to parent the kids while you are away. He’s been doing this just as long as you have!
Take care of yourself. My pediatrician has a sign in her office that says, “You can’t pour from an empty cup”. This is SO true. Take some time for yourself. It can be something big like a girls trip or something as small as a 20 minute walk by yourself. Take time to recharge.
Do what you love. I love my work, and I think that is crucial to balancing being a working, traveling mom. My philosophy is that if I am going to spend 40+ hours a week away from my kids, it’s going to be for something I enjoy. Find something that makes you happy and that will spill over to your family.