The term "Roadie" is most popularly known as a person who travels with a band (typically a Rock Band) as they are on tour. But I'm going to bring the term into 2019 as I describe "how I did it" when I accepted a training and consulting contract that required me to be on the road 100% for almost a year!
How to be a Single Mother Consultant Road Warrior
My daughter was two years old and we were recently thrust into the single-parent situation. I couldn't imagine leaving my daughter while I "worked the gig" just about as much as I couldn't imagine passing up the assignment (it was pretty awesome and was a good stepping stone for my career). So how did I make it work? Well first, I prayed about the process because I was truly in uncharted territory.
Here's the questions that hit my head:
How much would travel with a child cost?
Where would she go while I was working?
How will we have a "normal" life while on the road?
How will this impact my daughter's potty training?
What happens if my daughter gets sick?
Do I have the energy for this type of situation? How much energy will I need?
And as you can imagine there were tons more questions. The first answer that came to me (jeopardy-style in the form of a question), "what do the people I am teaching do with their children?" So I decided to ask them! How very conventional of me eh? I called the first office I was to be in, shared my circumstance and my desire to make it work. I was amazed at the inforamtion that flowed. The people I spoke with provided leads and new ideas for me to make my system work. What was the system? Here it is:
DAYCARE: I enrolled my daughter into KinderCare because their program in all locations is on the same page each week (meaning Monday's activities in NJ are the same activities being experienced in CA). Their locations are numerous, and their program is solid. Plus I could eliminate the multiple paperwork experiences since I was simply "transferring" our records to different locations.
ACCOMMODATIONS: We stayed at Residence Inn Hotels because for extended stays, you couldn't beat their price break, they have a full kitchen and it allowed me the opportunity to cook! We saved money on cooking meals instead of eating out each night. We made healthier food choices, and I was able to even participate in a potluck "at the office". We also didn't hesitate to make the room a little more "homey." I bought our own shower curtain liners, bathroom rugs, had aromatic candles, etc. I also brought my own DVD player (they had gotten really cheap by then) so that my daughter could watch her favorite Barney DVDs (just like home). Also, Residence Inn Hotels have free breakfast, happy hour snacks (that are sometimes enough to make a dinner), and many locations have a pool, basketball court, and recreation area. I taught my daughter how to dribble a ball on the road in New Jersey!
GROUND TRANSPORTATION: I would rent a car in bulk (meaning for weekly rates which were cheaper than daily rates). Hotwire.com was a good resource.
AIR TRANSPORTATION: I bought tickets in bulk, meaning when I found a good fare, I bought several round trips. This was a good reason to save my money so that I could take advantage of this little tip. American Airlines was a great source of flexible travel times, good staff, and great travel rewards programs (my daughter made Gold at 2 years old).
PREVENTING BOREDOM: Being in a hotel on the weekend can cause cabin fever. I made it our mission to visit as many museums. zoos and parks as possible.
MAINTAINING ENERGY: To maintain my single-mother energy, I adopted a few tv shows that kept me looking forward to certain nights. I also read a great deal of leadership books during that time. I also did a little retail therapy in some of the most unique places!
REMEMBERED MY OWN STRENGTH: This was one of the driving forces for me. There were times that I returned to the hotel tired and then had to tend to a 2-yr old. I had to remember the reason for the contract and the fact that a little fatigue couldn't stop my progress toward meeting my goal. Having a mental support system (i.e. phone a friend) helped tremendously!
Have you ever juggled an atypical work schedule incorporating your family life? What's your story? Let me hear your thoughts.