Many husbands need to go on meetings, project work or short term cooperation to beautiful and interesting places. If that’s Paris, Cape Town or New York. How lovely would it be to just accompany him? Get your bags packed and leave for while the routinized daily routine. Explore the new city while your partner is working and tell him during dinner what you experienced, found out and done the whole day. Walking hand in hand back to your hotel and enjoying the excitement of being a tourist.
Next thought: what’s with the kids? Being only two and escaping home is easy if you’re not bond to a 9-5-job. But now there are some small, demanding creatures who want to have food at specific times, would love to play with other children and be entertained in a tiny 20sqm hotel room. It’s easily comprehensible to reject the travel plans out of hand and go on with your normal daily life while your hubby is gone on his business trip to that wonderful town you’ve always wanted to visit.
Stop. Nothing’s impossible. (Again such a unrealistic saying, you might think.) But let me show you how it’s possible to combine business trips with family vacation.
Step 1: Good preparation
My husband had to go on business trip 2-3 times per year to a pulsating city in Eastern Europe. We knew beforehand that he’ll go there more often than only once and it’s worth to spend a bit more time in research and preparation. I will be able to accompany him several times so let’s explore the possibilities.
Our children love kindergarten and playing with others. Why not find a local kindergarten and let them enjoy their playmates for some hours per day?
- quality of kindergarten?
- children need to adapt to their schedule
- they don’t know the caretakers yet
- language barrier
- Kids are entertained and balanced
- dive into another culture
- have to adapt
- learn a foreign language or practice their rudimentary language skills
- mommy or daddy have some time to explore the city or work
Critical question: it’s not so easy to find one. You’re right, depending on the country you visit. In the US many daycare centres have branches all over the country. You could even stick to your “brand”. In Germany kindergarten is highly subsidized by the government. It’s more successful to go to in-home day care provider. Our experience in South Africa, Mauritius and Eastern Europe was positive. With good research in the internet, expat forums and recommendations of locals we always found a kindergarten within 1 day (!!). They were always private ones. I called in advance or sent an email, explained our situation and made an appointment.
Preparation doesn’t stop here. The most important preparation is to make the kids ready to attend a foreign child day care centre. We talk a lot with them before (they were 1 and 3 years old at our business trip to Romania e.g.).
Step 2: On spot
Give yourself time for arriving properly and adapt to the weather, culture and new surrounding. After that: don’t get lazy! Visit your kindergarten. We always had a extensive look around, talked to the care takers and let the kids play while we were still there. For our kids it was most important to make them clear that we will come again to pick them up. It’s easier if they can orientate themselves on their schedule, like getting picked up after lunch or after the nap.
Say properly good bye! They need to know that you are leaving now. Maybe they start crying but if you trust the care takers you can leave without bad conscious. (Or call them 10min later to check if they are fine.) IN our case our keypoint was always if the kids like it there. As soon as they talked to the care takers and we had the impression that they liked them everything was fine. But it can also happen that they don’t have a good rapport to each other, then leave and find another one (number 2 on your list).
Spending only 2 weeks at a kindergarten is in relation more costly, we always had a price range of 70-120€ per week. Sometimes including food.
Step 3: create routine
How were the first hours? Are they happy and “normal”? Now you can start to find a suitable routine. If that means to bring them to the kindergarten in the mornings or afternoons depends on your preference. Choose and stick on it. It makes it easy for the children to know when to get picked up again. They know the schedule and look forward already to the painting session or the playground. We never wanted to push it too far, so they loose fun there. Having 3-5hours per day was enough for us.
Enjoy your time! Explore the city and get work done, if you need so.
Step 4: Say goodbye
All business trips end after a certain while. Maybe the whole family enjoyed it so much that you leave teary-eyed. Good. Make sure the kindergarten keeps you in god memory. Could be that you come again! Our children look forward to their different kindergartens, because on all spots is something special.
The kindergarten in Romania has a very lovely care taker, Branca. She is so warm and caring that the kids hugged and kissed her when we picked them up every day. The good romanian lunch every day with soup and main course was their favourite. They were the fastest eater.
In Cape Town the kindergarten had rabbits and a huge outdoor playground. They did a lot of paintings and our 2 year old daughter always looked forward to feed the rabbits.
Mauritius is bilingual, so they speak English and French at the kindergarten. Having a musician coming once per week to sing and make music with them is one of their highlight.
Now it happens to us that my hubby takes the kids with him on business trip while I have appointments at home! He doesn’t want to be separated from them for a long time. And as our children love travelling it’s great for all parties (they are 2 and 4 years old).
Sure, meetings or business dinner in the evenings are not possible for him, but all his business partner and colleagues were cooperative and impressed: a father travelling alone with his 2 daughters. Amazing!