Gary's blog for couples and parents plus resources for individuals, leaders and churches.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

The Importance of Balancing Travel and Family

I recently made my fourteenth trip to Russia. Thankfully this time my wife went along but often she has to stay home. Thankfully I don't have to travel even more like so many do. But the impact of being away doesn't end when the plane's wheels touch down and I later walk in the door. I'm extra tired, jet-lagged and out of sorts for a few days as well. Let's face it - our families take a hit and make some sacrifices when we're on the road.

So what can we do to help minimize the impact?  First, make sure you actually need to travel as much as you do.  Can you use some of the new technology to do conference/video calling instead? Does your boss have you travel because he or she thinks you actually like the extra time on the road? Perhaps you like the road more than you should. Maybe there really is a way to cut back and not be gone so much.

Second, build in some time before and/or after your trip for family.  How about doing something extra special before you have to leave for awhile.  Jackie and I try to take some time for lunch or an extra day together to debrief, get caught up and reengage. That's important for your spouse and kids. Don't assume they've just gotten used to your being gone.

Third, make more of the time that you are at home. We should all be doing our best to communicate well, play often with our family members and give them face-to-face time. But if you have to be away a lot, then it would be wise to make extra efforts to engage with your family when you are there. Are you still at work most of the time when you're at home because you rarely stop checking your messages or are drawn like a magnet to your laptop?

Our kids only reach each age once but there will always be one more client to call, email to check and report to write. What's most important to you?  Our spouses put up with a lot for us to be gone.  Do we show them our love and thanks when we're home? I know that we can't always control how much we're away but we can control how we respond to being gone.

Fourth, be sure to connect with family when you're away. When I first went to Russia in the early 90's it was difficult to connect. Now I can call regularly anywhere I have wireless. There's not much excuse to not be in touch.

Leaving again soon? Make the most of it and show your family they still matter!
Gary Sinclair Writer | Speaker | Leader

Gary is currently a consultant, teacher, speaker and chaplain providing resources for families, leaders and churches.

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