Business Trip Battles

by Leslie Morgan Steiner

 

Okay, maybe I wasn’t at my most brilliant when planning how to combine work and motherhood when I was first pregnant, but here’s one biggie I totally missed: how vexing business travel can be when you have a baby, a job, and a husband who also travels for his job. In my pregnancy glow, worried about breastfeeding and diaper rash, it never occurred to me to ponder good overnight care or to arrange a move next door to my in-laws – available last minute, just like bosses and clients assume you are for business trips. I certainly never imagined my husband and I would fight for 12 years over this issue. I guess I simply figured our business trips would never fall on the same day or we’d “work something out.”

 

Big mistake.

 

Now when I find out about an upcoming business trip, I race for my computer to send DH an email to “Black Out” the dates I’m gone. We’ve operate under a first-come-first-served policy resembling the mad scramble to get your name on the daycare center list the second you know you are pregnant. I want MY name at the top so I have dibs on my dates. My Darling Husband does the same…his dreaded TRAVEL email header makes me shudder for fear he might reserve key dates first.

 

I have 10 trips over the course of the next four months, considerately spread out, all booked as Black Out dates. All have been planned for the better part of a year.

 

I thought I was safe.

 

But here’s the problem with husbands -- never adequately addressed in Womenomics, Getting to 50/50 or The Program on Negotiation at Harvard Law School(all of which I am avid fans of).

 

Sometimes even the most wonderful partners, who unfortunately are not your direct reports, sometimes just say TOUGH NUGGIES I MIGHT NEED TO BE OUT OF TOWN THEN TOO.

 

What then?

 

In my case, first I yelled at my husband.

 

My side of the conversation went like this: “I have made hundreds of sacrifices for our family over the past 12 years! I have found an incredibly flexible job that pays well and allows me to be home 90% of the time! You owe me!”

 

If we’d been having a good day as a couple, his side of the conversation would have gone like this:________________.

 

But yesterday he answered back.

 

“I have made a lot of sacrifices too, honey,” he said quietly. “I change business trips and meetings all the time. Last month I went to California and back in one day and I do that all the time. But I have an obligation to my job to travel sometimes, even when you are out of town. We have to find a solution that works for both of us.”

 

Even I had to admit that sounded awfully reasonable.

 

roseherring
08.22.09

I feel your pain! My husband doesn't travel but he is a physician and still in his residency so has to cover overnight shifts. I have to travel about twice a month. It takes a lot of planning and coordination and more often than not, I am the one to budge but the "I've made sacrifices..." chant has come out of my mouth many times.

leslie morgan s...
08.05.09

Leslie Morgan Steiner

Yep -- great idea. That is our backup plan right now. In DC this kind of service is ungodly expensive...not the hourly fees but the "membership service fee" that goes to the agency...or at least it was top dollar before the recession hit. Might be more reasonable now. Thanks!

leslie morgan s...
08.05.09

Leslie Morgan Steiner

Yep -- great idea. That is our backup plan right now. In DC this kind of service is ungodly expensive...not the hourly fees but the "membership service fee" that goes to the agency...or at least it was top dollar before the recession hit. Might be more reasonable now. Thanks!

JenRed
08.04.09

Have you thought about using a nanny service? We used a service to hire our nanny a few years ago, and they will supply temporary nannies if you need them - on short notice too, and not too expensive.