A few years ago, I used to travel for business fairly regularly. These days I don’t have the opportunity to travel as often, which is appealing to me as the mother of a 17-month-old child. Life is less complicated when you don’t have to leave the house at 7 am to catch an early flight from Montreal to Toronto. Today, I took my first business trip since returning to work from maternity leave. Until last night, I wasn’t too stressed about it. After all, it’s just a day trip for some meetings in Toronto, something I’ve done millions of times.
My own preparation for the trip involved absolutely nothing. In fact, less than for a normal day at work, since I had no lunch or gym bag to pack, no errands to plan for on the way into the office. I simply needed my purse, my laptop and my boarding pass. At the last minute I threw a 3 month old issue of Today’s Parent into my bag in case I found myself with time to read on the plane.
But suddenly last night I remembered my son. Oops. My trip meant that my mother would have to come over early to babysit, I couldn’t prepare his lunch and snacks for the day in the morning like I normally do – and since I would be arriving home later than usual, what the heck was the plan for tonight’s dinner? So I scrambled to get it all done last night after coming home from doing groceries after dinner while my husband looked after putting my son to bed.
But I’m not complaining. It’s par for the course. Business travel when you have kids requires a little extra planning. No biggie.
What I found disorienting today was the fact that I had forgotten how much time you spend waiting around when you travel. As the mom of a toddler, I just don’t spend time waiting around anymore. I have to-do lists and I am always trying to accomplish something, whether I’m working or I’m home. Idle time is normally planned and scheduled. In other words, if I sit down to watch TV for two hours at night, it’s on purpose.
Even with my blackberry and laptop on me and meetings planned for the day, I still underestimated how much time I found myself with at the airport and on the plane. The kind of time that in the past did not seem to go by as slowly. These days, I am amazed at what I can accomplish in an hour. I can zip through items on a to-do list and multitask like nobody’s business. So once I had accomplished whatever work I could possibly complete, read an entire magazine while chatting about vacation plans with the colleague who was travelling with me, I thought, what the heck am I going to do on the flight home? Especially when I found myself seated next to an empty seat (yes!).
I briefly contemplated taking a nap, which would have been so gratifying. But I’m not a pretty sleeper. I am the person whose head rolls around the seat, mouth open with a trail of drool running down my chin. Since I would like my professional integrity to remain intact for a little longer, I opted against the nap.
There was no in-flight entertainment, since I was travelling aboard a small regional jet on a short flight.
I suppose I could have sat alone with my thoughts for the hour and stared peacefully out the window at the view below, but that would have inevitably led to the abovementioned nap, so that wouldn’t have been a good idea.
So I’m blogging. And as I write this I’m truly amazed by the speed at which I now operate. How many things do I cram into my time now? How hard is it for me to disconnect, really? My mind is constantly racing, thinking, planning, plotting, working. Thinking about projects, assignments, the office, my job, my son, my home, my husband, our plans, our upcoming vacation, what we have do at home, what’s for dinner, what’s planned for the weekend, finding time to go to the gym, what I’m going to write about in my blog, when I’m going to find the time to write my blog, what’s happening on Facebook, when will I read this month’s book club selection, and oh, I have to remember to fill in my son’s forms for daycare before August 6th.
Whew. I’m exhausted. Maybe I will take that nap after all.