For the past 4-5 years or so, I've been fortunate enough to take annual solo trips to various genealogy conferences and institutes. This is my ME time, this is when I focus on MY interests and goals, where I get to meet with other people for a reason other than being a parent. (No offense, PTAs, band parents, and kid-sports-team parents, but sometimes I need to step out of my parent role when it comes to adult conversation.) Attending genealogy conferences reminds me how much I love using my knowledge and intellect to better my family's knowledge of their incredible ancestors. The past couple of years, RootsTech especially has provided me with that yearly dose of enthusiastic inspiration I need to continue on when ancestors appear illusive in my research.
Believe me, I know it's not easy logistically or financially to swing a solo mom trip. That $200+ conference fee + travel and lodging can be *really* hard for some families to manage. Fortunately, most genealogy conference dates and locations planned years in advance, so you have time to save for it little by little. In the past, I have specifically told my husband not to buy me birthday and anniversary presents, so we could put that little bit of extra money towards my trips.
What about childcare? This is, in many ways, harder for some moms to arrange, both logistically and emotionally, than the financial aspects. That first time you leave your kids for an extended period, it's HARD! You feel like you're abandoning them, that they'll be lonely without you, that they'll resent you for going away. I've had all of these feelings, and they are completely normal. BUT, sometimes we let our loving-but-sometimes-irrational mom brains run away from reason; we always think the worst will happen. I've always hated asking for help when it comes to taking care of my kids, but, after several solo trips of my own, I've come around to the 'It takes a village' mindset. Kids are resilient, and though they may be sad while your gone, after a few days of doting on them, they are back to normal. And, as far as things going wrong while you are away, ask yourself how often things go wrong when you are there --- Yep, all the time, so it's ok if everything isn't perfect while you are away.
Ask your partner or parent or trusted family friend if they'd be willing/able to watch your child(ren) for a few days. If they seem overwhelmed by this prospect, suggest a 'tag-team' situation in which two or more caregivers divide their time with the kids over the few days you'll be gone. Putting trust in others to care for your children will not only enhance your children's relationships with these caregivers, but it will also enhance YOUR relationship with those caregivers. It's a win-win in the long term.
What if you'd like to attend RootsTech, still have an infant, and really don't want to be away from him or her for that long? I get it; bring the baby along. I can tell you that I've always seen at least a few baby moms walking through the convention center, pushing a stroller, nursing in a quiet corner of the exhibit hall. You probably won't be able to attend as many sessions as you could if you had no children with you, but even just attending a couple a day would be worth it. Even aside from Family Discovery Day (about which I will write a separate blog post), RootsTech is the MOST family-friendly genealogy conference I've ever experienced.
Moms, have I convinced you yet? Trust me, it takes a lot of planning and some sacrifice, but attending a genealogy conference or institute on your own will make you a better family historian AND a better mom. Even though being a parent is the most important job in the world, you, as a person, also exist outside of that realm. We need to meet that person's needs and foster our own personal growth according to our own interests.
Over the next couple of months, dozens of genealogy bloggers will be offering opportunities to win a free 4-day RootsTech pass, which is awesome and really helps make it financially easier to attend. Enter as many of these contests as you can find! Go to THIS LINK to enter my contest, which runs through October 1st. I will announce a winner on October 2.
In future posts, I do plan on talking a little about Family Discovery Day, which I highly encourage attending with your family, especially if you are local and can't swing the solo trip this time around. I'm also going to highlight some of the presentations that I feel parents, especially, will find the most helpful when it comes to sharing family history and keeping it fun for all ages.
©2018 Emily Kowalski Schroeder