Calling All Control Freaks!

As a working mom who travels for work, I’m a 100% self-diagnosed control freak who has the house humming along in a certain way when I’m home. What happens when I’m gone though is what I want to talk about and has taken me years to acknowledge. When I’m traveling, my husband and kids have their own system and I’ve learned that often I’m the one who gets in the way of our kids flexing their independence.

Without me home to micro-manage and direct everyone, our kids are given the opportunity to rise up and show their independence. Recently while I was on a trip, our oldest stepped up to make lunches AND included fresh fruit and veggies without being directed. Our youngest magically dressed herself in head to toe pink and was thrilled with her outfit. These things would not have happened if I were home.

It’s easy to get into a parent martyr complex, but letting go of control can result in a new approach that not only gives you a break, but gives your family members a sense of ownership in keeping the ship afloat in a way that works for them. And that’s ok.

Your kids may not eat exactly like normal. Once our oldest was on solids, I would spend time making healthy dinners for my husband to cook, only to come home with them still in the fridge. Flash to 8 years later and this is where we are. Maybe not 100% healthy, but super happy and fed.

Your kids may not look the way they do when you’re there. I’m not sure if it’s a blessing or a curse that through the powers of Facebook I see what my 4-year-old is wearing or that her hair looks like small animals should be living in it. However, seeing her creativity and die hard passion for her favorite color reminds me that these times are fleeting.

Your kids may watch more TV than normal and won’t become zombies. Remember everything in moderation.

Your house will be messy and there will be lots and lots of laundry. This is probably the hardest on working parents who travel and are also the default parent managing all things big and small. Special props to my husband who now implements an “ETA check-in” to clean the house and do a few loads of laundry before I walk in the door.

For those who are planning for a much needed weekend away or for an upcoming work-trip, I challenge you to take a look around, pack your bag and leave. Do nothing else and see what happens. Know that things might be different than when you are home, but they also could be better.


Jackie was born in a suburb of Chicago and has lived in NYC, Maine and other states before meeting her husband who convinced her to visit and eventually move to Madison. As a "geriatric mother" who was told she could never have children due to past medical complications, her first pregnancy was uneventful, which led to two more healthy pregnancies despite all odds. While trying to balance working full-time and traveling for a large non-profit, she’s working on what to view as priority and what to let go when it comes to a healthy marriage and raising three kids. When she's not packing/unpacking suitcases and scheduling doctor appointments from airport terminals, she can be found de-compressing at the dog park with her golden retriever puppy or relaxing while trying a local brew with her husband. Her travel adventures can be found on twitter (@jackiethurnau) or on Instagram (jackieanderson5).


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