• Just Let It Go

    When my youngest was in kindergarten, she had such a sweet little face. Don’t all kindergarteners?

    During that time, I had recently decided to really “lean into” my career which, in the national arena, called for a great deal of travel which also meant some milestones would be missed. There is so much to manage and coordinate with two small kids in school, my husband working full time, and life going on all around us.

    One particular week when I absolutely had to travel (funny that I can’t even remember why), my daughter had school pictures. Her first picture day and I would have to miss it (queue waves of guilt)! That travel week, I left very detailed instructions for my husband to make sure absolutely everything got done JUST AS I WANTED:

    Sound familiar? Ringing any bells?

    Four weeks later, my daughter came running into the house with her special packet of school pictures and the excitement filled the room as we all gathered to look at her sweet little face with her new dress and perfectly color-coordinated hair ribbon. There it was! My baby’s first school picture with a half numb face from the Novocain administered by the dentist earlier that morning. I will admit her hair was beautiful with the ribbon and everything matched perfectly. But…WHAT WAS HE THINKING!?! His argument? “You weren’t here and everything got done. Right? Maybe not just as you wanted, but everyone survived with no trips to the emergency room or therapist.” He was right and I had to let it go. I had to let go of the guild for not being there and the stress over how he managed everything.

    After almost 25 years of business travel and all the woes associated with being away from home, learning to let go at home and trust my support system has been my saving grace and proven to be the single greatest factor in my ability to manage and succeed in my career. Sound like an exaggeration? It’s not. Trust me. It didn’t happen overnight and there were a lot of compromises and acceptance on the part of myself, my husband, the kids and anyone remotely connected to our family. I’ve learned that not every detail needs to be addressed, I really don’t have to do it all, and in the end there are no extra trips to the hospital or therapist.

    But what does it mean to “let go” and how can we get there? Below I have highlighted a few of the steps I’ve taken to help me get over myself and the stress.

    1. Stop apologizing for what doesn’t get done. The responsibility isn’t solely yours to own.
    2. Try to focus your energy (or stress) on the stuff that will matter a week or a month or a year from now (you pick your own timeline, but make it reasonable. I’ve chosen a month).
    3. Truly trust your support system to get it done their way. Make sure they know you trust them.
    4. When you get home, don’t run through the list of tasks like an IRS auditor on April 15th making sure everything got done. Instead, let your partner share their list of everything that did get accomplished, then be thankful. Don’t focus on what didn’t get done.
    5. No backseat driving or Monday morning quarterbacking (I normally hate sports analogies, but in this case, it fits). You can’t manage things on the home-front when you are hundreds or thousands of miles away. No incessant calls home to micromanage the day.
    6. Finally and here’s the big one…Don’t let anyone, and I mean anyone, make you feel like you are anything other than the loving parent,devoted spouse and accomplished professional you are. There is no guilt in sharing the responsibilities and you will save yourself the stress.
    7. Just let it go.

    Realizing every household is its own universe and dynamics differ, I’d love to hear your story or technique for coping. Many folks are not leaving kids at home for business travel. Some are leaving a partner, a parent or even your lovely 4 legged babies. Regardless, stress levels exist and compromises must be made. These are just a few of the steps I’ve tried to adopt over the years. I’d love to hear your ideas or thoughts for managing.