How I do it:
My husband and I arrived at this conclusion: I love consulting, he does not love consulting. He wanted to spend time in town to take full advantage of his evening with the kids. I wanted to see how far I could push myself in this career and have the flexibility to be fully present when I was in town.
When it came time for us to expand our family, we decided he would be "the parent in town," and we would set up childcare that would be nurturing but flexible for our schedules. We would make the investment in an au pair as well as in daycare, and we would have a Plan A, Plan B, Plan C and Plan D to make sure I could keep going with this career while still having quality relationships with my family. I would have to negotiate with my leaders to make sure they understood that I was here to pursue this career, and not because I felt I didn't have a choice.
In my typical week, I travel Monday through Thursday. I’m up early Monday morning, before everyone else, and climb into a car to the airport. I manage all our home finances, schedules and administration mainly because I can take care of most of it wherever I happen to be. My husband tends to take care of the laundry and dishes, although we do share physical chores over the weekend. We’ve hired a maid service to take care of regular cleaning…don’t want to spend a second of my precious weekend time scrubbing a toilet! I fly home again Thursday evening and often work from home or the office on Fridays.
Friday nights are always date night. I transition to a weekend that is focused on my marriage, family, household and a little recharge for myself, too. I also take advantage of my flights to read, catch up on tasks, keep myself organized. I’m actually more consistent about exercising when I’m staying in a hotel, and I can roll out of bed into the gym.
What we realized
As we wrote this article, we realized that despite our different career trajectories and travel schedules, we really do share similar challenges and rewards. We both have flexibility; Alexis because she doesn’t hassle with airports, and Amanda because she has personal time Monday through Wednesday evening and during her commute. We both have constraints because our jobs have high expectations of us, and we both always have more on our minds to accomplish than can be realistically achieved by anyone. We both struggle with achieving balance and have to work hard to ensure that work doesn’t encroach too far on what is personally fulfilling and rewarding in life.
At first, Amanda thought, “An internal role must be easier than getting on a plane,” and Alexis thought, “Wouldn’t it be nice if I had a few evenings a week to myself?” But, we both now realize that perception isn’t necessarily reality. Alexis’s job is very challenging, and Amanda doesn’t have much free time because she tends to fill it with as much productivity as she can before she heads into another weekend. We are both happy with our choices, and we both make it work in our own ways.