Like millions of married couples in America, both my wife and I have busy careers. Our lives intersect most frequently at the dinner table after a long day at the office or an even longer week on the road. Every once in a while we discover that critical details have slipped through the cracks because our busy schedules overlap and conflict with our usual household routines.
When this happens, we find ourselves thrown off balance. It doesn’t happen often. But when both of us are scheduled to be out of town at the same time, it offers a new set of challenges to our daily life.
After so many years of marriage, we have learned the key to happiness and productivity is a proper division of chore and responsibilities before we leave town. Managing these responsibilities requires different thinking, or an outside-the-box approach.
- Communicate. About every detail.
- Determine how the house is taken care of while you’re both traveling. Consider both the inside of the house, as well as the outside.
- Start chores from the inside of the house. We eat at home as much as possible the week prior to traveling to use up food in the fridge. It also helps us get some healthy meals before the chaos of travel eating. Dispose of any food that could spoil while you’re away, so you avoid returning home to the smell of spoiled milk in the fridge.
- Save energy, and money, by adjusting the thermostat for when the house is empty. Programmable thermostats are ideal for this. This lets you keep a lower temperature while you’re away, but have it comfortable for the day you return.
- Make a short checklist of last minute “to-dos” before leaving the house: Empty all wastebaskets and put the garbage outside. Unplug small appliances and electronic devices. Lock all windows and doors (even in the basement) . Make arrangements for newspaper and mail deliveries to be halted if no one is picking them up. Check that faucets are not dripping (unless it is winter and you want to leave a steady drip to keep pipes from freezing). Check that all lights are turned off, from attic to basement. Make sure the oven and burners are turned off.
- Maintenance of the outside of the house is just as important while you’re away. An overgrown lawn and excess newspapers or mail can signal to potential thieves that homeowners are away. Contact a lawn service to maintain the lawn and shrubs. Use the United States Postal Service website (usps.com) to put a hold on your mail while you travel.
- Have a family member or trusted friend or neighbor check on your home a few minutes each day (to bring in the mail if you didn’t have it stopped), if that’s an option. They can easily spot potential problems like a toilet running, a water leak, a power outage, etc.
- Use your computer to manage day-to-day household tasks, like paying bills online while you’re traveling. I use my tablet to adjust our programmable, WiFi-enabled thermostat to a comfortable temperature a few hours before returning home.
- Check in with your spouse before returning home to see if there are any changes in travel plans. My wife and I always try to touch base and confirm arrival details. This can help you avoid waiting for a ride at the airport that isn’t coming.
- Whether you and your spouse are in the same room or on opposite coasts, communication is crucial. Don’t forget to feed your relationship while you’re both traveling for business. Carve out some time each day to talk on the phone, text, or use Facetime/Skype to stay in touch. Remember that when you return home, there will be small chores needing attention and that you will be tired. Tackle these with teamwork and patience as you adjust to being back home.
Are you looking for a job at a global company that involves travel? Keep an eye on Kennametal’s Career pages to find a job that’s right for you.
Are you already a traveler? Share some of your tips!