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Post-Trip Re-Entry: Making homecoming easier on Mom

by Meagan Francis on January 29, 2011

After some time away, coming home can be stressful. Here's how to make it easier.

I’m sitting in the Nashville airport waiting for my flight back home after spending most of the week inside the Opryland Hotel, a place jokingly referred to as “the Biodome”–it’s so huge, and there is so much to do and eat and see there, that there’s really no reason to leave. There’s even a waterfall and a garden conservatory that I actually got lost in.

So it’s a little disorienting being back out in the real world (well, as much as an airport can be considered the “real world”) and headed home. And it’s gotten me thinking about a few conversations I had with some wonderful women at Blissdom about how hard it is to go home after a trip. You walk in exhausted, just wanting some space to decompress and absorb the experience you’ve had. Dad, on the other hand, is also exhausted from taking over and wants to hand off the kids so he can get his own decompression time. And the kids are falling all over themselves to see you, talk to you and climb on you. Of course you want to hold and hug and care for everybody, but after being independent for a few days, the sudden re-entry into being needed can be really overwhelming.

But we can do some things to make re-entry a little easier:

  • Schedule yourself an adjustment day with plenty of quiet time and re-connection. I’m so happy I’ll have all day tomorrow to lie around, snuggle the kids, and basically re-acclimate to life as a mom without having any running around or work to do. When possible I always try to give myself an off day after I travel.
  • Get home early. I misjudged this one this time around. I didn’t want to have to get up early, so I scheduled a 3:30 flight. But when you consider the drive home from the Chicago airport, that doesn’t put me home until 9…when I’ll be tired and the kids will have been anxiously awaiting my arrival all day and then will probably have a hard time settling down for bed. Whoops.
  • Take your time getting home. My usual trajectory is that I don’t think too much about missing my kids and husband until the morning of my return trip home. Then I feel like I’ve been gone for months, miss everyone terribly and feel like the minutes crawl by. The temptation to white-knuckle the steering wheel as I race home or sit rigidly on the edge of my airplane seat is high, but that just makes me feel anxious and it doesn’t speed the time up at all. Allow yourself to relax and enjoy the trip home: listen to music you love, watch the in-flight movie, read a book on the plane, take time to appreciate the last few hours of alone-ness with your thoughts. After all, by tomorrow it’ll be back to Caillou and WonderPets and Go, Dog, Go.
  • Take good care of yourself during your travels. Build in plenty of time for getting where you need to go so you aren’t stressed or anxious during your drive or flight. Eat, even if it means picking up something on the way home or eating at the airport before you leave. You don’t want to walk into the house starving–it makes everything more stressful.
  • Don’t hurry to jump in and fix things. If the house is a mess when you get home, hold off on cleaning up. Ask your husband to hang on five more minutes so you can put on some sweats, park yourself on the sofa, snuggle the kids and just enjoy being home with your family.

The rest of life? It can wait until tomorrow.

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{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Allison @ Alli 'n Son January 29, 2011 at 6:35 pm

I just went through this. I was on vacation with my husband for 5 days while our son stayed with the in-laws. After we arrived back home all my son wanted to do was whatever he wanted (which is what he could do at Grandmas) while what we had to do was a million chores and errands. Needless to say it was a tough adjustment for both of us. I like the idea of having a day to just be together. I think that would have made our adjustment easier.

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Amy @ Frugal Mama January 30, 2011 at 12:09 pm

As usual, a post full of pearls of wisdom. You are so insightful and articulate, Meaghan, and your posts are always a pleasure to read.

I hope you had an awesome time at Blissdom, and that your reentry is as relaxed and joyous as possible.

Sincerely,
Amy

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Sarah @ Buttoned Up January 30, 2011 at 6:37 pm

So true. I’d add – don’t let mom guilt cause you to leave too early either! As you know, I mistakenly scheduled a return flight from Blissdom at 6am (mostly due to mom guilt/some work-related stress too), which meant a 4am wakeup. I got home by noon – but am not sure I was exactly in the most alert state for my re-entry.

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Ellen January 30, 2011 at 8:44 pm

Well, I am happy to say I pretty much followed all of your advice except the “don’t hurry to jump in and fix things part.” Next time, after Dave and the kids pick me up at the airport, I’m making them take me out for dinner so I can enjoy them before I see the state of our house.

Meagan, it was so wonderful to get to know you, hope to see you again in the near future!

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Jamie @ Steady Mom January 31, 2011 at 12:23 pm

My husband and I talk so much about this topic because he travels a lot, too, so I have experienced this from both sides. It seems that each trip we learn a strategy to make the next time a little bit easier.

I really enjoyed meeting you in the writing seminar and the lifestyles tribe, Meagan. I’ll be keeping an eye out for your book release this spring!

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Tsh @ Simple Mom February 1, 2011 at 8:13 pm

There are times when I feel like I need a week of recovery after a weekend away! Blissdom was definitely one of those weekends. You’ve got great advice here, Meagan — I echo them all.

I’m putting low pressure on myself this week. Books are stacked and not shelved, the bathroom needs scrubbing, and I’ve got a week of easy meals planned for dinner. And that’s perfectly okay with me.

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Aimee February 6, 2011 at 1:03 pm

I really enjoyed these. The dinner one is sheer genius. My last business trip had me getting home late in the evening. I was very cranky when I got home so the many to-do’s only exacerbated flight/travel exhaustion. I should have stopped to have a chai tea and snack before heading home. I would have been in a better mood.

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Jamie February 6, 2011 at 8:08 pm

Wow this was great to read– I am preparing for a 2 week trip to England this coming summer.. First time I will leave my son for more than a half day and i am already beginning the process of what to do to make it an easier go for myself, my fiance and our son.. Picked up some great tips thank you.

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