Embracing the Boondoggle: The Working Mom's Vacation
In all of my jobs, I have frequently traveled for work. And while, yes, I do get pangs of guilt for leaving my kiddies, there has been an unexpected upside - a lot of ME time. Some may call it selfish, but I'll be honest, ME time is fabulous.
There was the Aspen ski weekend I finagled with my husband when I traveled to Denver on business. There was my self-guided, spring tour of Seattle from the Space Needle to the world's first Starbucks. And then there was the salsa dancing lesson I took in Toronto. But it's also those small things that I find luxurious like sitting on a train to Washington, DC, where I could read not only the "Wall Street Journal" and "US Weekly" but also a novel. Those three uninterrupted hours of train time in the "quiet car" were simply sublime.
In full disclosure I didn't shut down entirely. I did methodically tap away on my BlackBerry to keep in virtual touch with colleagues and clients. But as I sped along on Amtrak, without my kids squirming next to me, demanding candy or fighting over who got the perfect blue crayon, I found myself strangely unstressed. Amtrak was a vacation - a work vacation.
The hospitality industry is now marketing heavily to businesswomen. Savvy marketers have figured out that when a mom is away on business, what she may crave most isn't her toddler, but a bubble bath. A sudsy break from the grind accompanied by a nice glass of Sauvignon Blanc and catching an episode of "Glee" can be the perfect evening.
My friend Brooke always looks forward to what she refers to as her February boondoggle to Florida where in between fancy dinners with clients in Palm Beach she manages to get a facial and a massage. It also helps that her company puts her up at the Four Seasons. Room service and four hundred, thread count bedding makes even travel delays bearable.
I know plenty of moms who actually feel guilty for stealing away time for themselves on work trips. The guilt of being away from their kids gnaws at them to the point of paralysis. I say to these angst-ridden mamas - give up the guilt Girlfriend, think of this as just another way of multi-tasking. You're traveling anyway, so maximize your moments.
If that means working out in the hotel gym, getting a 15-minute neck massage with the airport masseuse, drinking cocktails at the hotel bar or indulging in Pay Per View - do it. And if you can legitimately expense part of the fun; it's all the better. Men have been doing it for years. Sisters, it's time to embrace the boondoggle.
And when you're walking through airport security by yourself without a stroller or a child on your hip, take a breath and smile. A work vacation may be just the break you need.
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