I’m a traveling dad, and I can’t be awesome at everything all the time.
Dad, employee, salesman, husband, friend, ministry-leader, public servant—it’s a tall order for anyone. And, if you’re anything like me, you can excel at some and suck at others (and not always the same ones). There are weeks when I’m a better husband and salesman than I am a dad and ministry leader. Then the next week rolls around and I suck at being a good husband and my monthly sales number drops, but my kids think I’m the man and I’m part of a volunteer project.
Few things humble you like being a traveling dad. I spend two to four days a week on the road, all over North America, because that’s what Zumasys needs me to do. Jerry McGuire and me—we’re “good in the living room.” I’ve discovered just how particularly hard it is to excel at my job and be a family man, and I thought that I’d share a few things I’ve learned over the past years. These are just a few tips about how I balance being a dad and a traveling salesman. If you’re a person who spends time away from the kids while on the road, I hope this offers a nugget or two you didn’t possess already. And if you have some ideas I don’t mention, quid pro quo…I’ll take all the help I can get!
Here are three things I do to show my kids I love them while I’m on the road:
Give them a reason to be excited to see you go.
I buy magnets. Every airport on the continent has magnets for their city. Amber (that’s my incredible wife) and I went to Ikea and bought magnet boards for the kids’ rooms and I’m on a mission to fill them. I pick up a magnet in every city where I travel. Kooky animals, snow globes, cityscapes—whatever I can tell a story about when I get back home. My kids ask me before I leave how many magnets I’m gonna bring home, and I tell ‘em. When I get home, I’m lucky to get a hug before they ask to see the newest magnets. My travel is a win for them, and my coming is home something to look forward to.
Some of the best dads I’ve ever known taught me this one. I have a five-year-old son and an eight-year-old daughter. And they both need time alone with Dad. So we plan it out. Daddy Days. Sometimes they’re separate, sometimes they’re together, but we always go somewhere fun. Many men wiser than I have said, as a parent it’s essential to always be making memories with your kids. So we do. Whether it’s Disneyland or the zoo, a day hike or lunch at the park, a special day with Dad can make up for many days without.
Always have something to look forward to.
Paul Giobbi, Zumasys’ intrepid captain, says you always need something to look forward to – and that advice is the bomb. What’s on the horizon? What’s everyone working toward? I’ve spent the past three months almost non-stop on the road, and everyone in my family deserves a reason to make the sacrifice. So, come late May, the whole family is going to see Grandma Connie and Papaw Randy in Cincinnati, staying with cousins, aunties, and dear, dear friends. The kids get to fly in an airplane and stay up late every night. And there’s no homework! Daddy only checks e-mail once a day, early in the morning, and then it’s all about Family Time. It’s awesome. I’ve been travelling a lot for work so that we can all go hang out together in Cincinnati. That makes it worth it for us all.
These are just three of the things I do to balance out the fact that it’s damn near impossible to be a great dad and a great traveling salesman at the same time. I don’t have it all figured out, but I’m trying to get better and better with every passing year. If I’m going to fail, I’m going to fail trying my best to succeed. And, in time, the kids will be grown and gone, and we’ll all see how well I did. For now, I keep on kicking ass at work and loving my kids with all I’ve got.
And when I get home after the nights on the road and they run to the door shouting, “Daddy what magnets did you buy us?!?!” I know they’re really saying, “Great job Dad! We missed you and we’re glad you’re home!” And in those moments, I know I’m as good as I’m going to get.
Are you a traveling mom or dad? Don’t hold out on us. How do you make your kids feel loved while you’re on the road? Post your tips on our Facebook page!