What can you do to make it easier on you, your au pair and your baby when you all take a business trip together?
I’m a first time host mom who’s going to be taking her au pair with her on a business trip with my 8 month old daughter.
My au pair understands that the hours might be odd, and that I may need her to be on duty more than 10 hours for some of the days. She’s happy to accommodate my schedule, and I’m expecting to be deliberate about accommodating her schedule a few times in exchange.
But other than this issue with scheduling I was wondering if other HMs some advice on issues on business trips. I’m still breastfeeding so I’m planning on coming back from the conference many times a day for feeds.
We’re staying in an extended stay hotel down the street from the conference. I’d appreciate any advice. Thanks so much ~ BusinessMom
Managing the au pair and the baby was the easy part.
Like you, I made sure to find us family-friendly hotel accommodations that had extra room for our au pair to sit and play with the baby, to prepare simple meals, and just to hang out.
We also stocked up on a few grocery items so that our au pair did not have to take the baby and herself out to a restaurant for every meal. These two adjustments made it much easier for the baby to keep her schedule and for the au pair to feel comfortable even in this strange place.
For our au pair, I identified a few touristy activities within walking distance of our hotel. Even though the baby had no interest in the National Zoo, the Space Needle, or the Mall at The Grove, our au pair was able to explore these places with the baby in tow. I also gave our au pair a ‘pay per view’ movie budget.
I did have our au pair bring the baby to me in the conference center when it was time for the baby to nurse. I would scope out the environment and find a place that was easy for our au pair to reach and reasonably quiet and private. Once, I even nursed the baby in the childcare area of the conference (even though we weren’t using the childcare service, they let me into the space).
The harder part was the demands the arrangement placed on me.
I was torn between wanting to immerse myself in the business trips themselves, and wanting to be there for my baby and au pair. For me, business trips always feel demanding, even when they are for conferences I enjoy. I feel like I have to be ‘on’ 24/7 at the event, and this is exhausting.
There was little to no down time when I was back at the hotel. Our au pair was lonely without company, and I had to spend some energy connecting with her. Plus, I did need to relieve her and care for the baby. There was no time for the usual business trip fun, of soaking in a tub that somebody else would scrub, or jumping up and down on a bed that someone else would make.
I felt as though I could never, ever rest.
Also difficult for me was letting go of the baby after she’d been brought to me to nurse. Once I relaxed with my daughter and snuggled her, it was harder than usual to give her back to the au pair, button up my shirt and march resolutely into the business fray.
Worse, when my colleagues did see me with the baby, it was hard for me to figure out who I actually was, that professor doing the interesting research on corporate reputations, or the adoring mommy with the sweet-cheeked little cherub.
That was my experience, and maybe there are some ideas in there for you.
Other moms who’ve taken babies and au pairs on trips, what have you done that’s made it easier?
Image: attendee at “Type A Mom Conference”??? Some rights reserved by kelbycarr