Work Trips, Toddlers in Tow
Wednesday July 17, 2019
Part and parcel of operating a small business is the constant spillover between the personal and professional. There’s no work phone that you can toss into your bag and forget about over the weekend, no clocking out at 5pm, no “off” switch in your brain for financial woes or employee satisfaction. And while the burden can feel overbearing during stressful seasons, one of the blessings of running a family business is that we can freely invite our husbands and daughters (and parents!) along for the ride.
Our business trip to Tokyo this summer turned into a family affair, and while Pat and I worked, our husbands and parents traversed a new city, toddlers in tow. And while we love that our girls can be a part of the amazing experiences that our work brings, it does require a ton of pre-planning, flexibility, lower back strength ;), patience, and sacrifice all around to pull these work travels off. Would it have been infinitely easier to travel to Tokyo and back without two tiny people? Undoubtedly. But for two gals who love travel and a good adventure, we couldn’t pass up an opportunity to experience Japan with our families.
Despite our ambitions to see as much of Tokyo and the surrounding areas as we could, the reality of traveling for work and with small children is that our time is severely limited. Between work and naps and bedtimes and tired little legs, the pockets of time we actually had to explore together were a couple of hours in the evenings at best. Most often, we used this time to experience small tastes of Japan’s rich food culture. These meals included nursing a sweaty babe at the table, negotiating toddler tantrums, or trying to prevent spills and squabbles - but also, passing around the most delicious Kobe beef and celebrating trade show victories over sips of sake.
As with many shared experiences, traveling with others is neither for ease nor convenience, but for the amplified joy of togetherness. While our girls are still small and understand very little of what Pat and I are actually doing when we travel for work, we love that they’re able to absorb glimpses of the all-at-once passionate, messy, exhilarating grind of running this business we love. Only halfway recovered from a week-long stretch of major toddler jet lag, I can’t definitively say that we’ll be bringing the girls along for every future international trip, but as I hear Haley repeatedly whisper the name of every member of our family as she drifts off to sleep, I’m convinced that any length of time as family is a sweet, irreplaceable gift.