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It’s 5am in Bangkok, and I’m just coming back from the gym. (Thank you, 24-hour hotel gyms.) I’m about to start another grueling day of speeches, meetings, and more speeches.
The road warrior life is tough, but it’s what I know. And truth be told, I love it. I was sure, however, that I’d have to give up my travel when I had a daughter, because I wanted to make sure I was present for her. Turns out, that’s not the case at all.
My daughter is currently three years old, growing like a weed, and thanks to a well crafted set of technological tools, I never miss a beat, she never feels like she’s missing daddy, and I can continue doing what I love, what earns me a living, and what I’m best at, and my daughter never feels like I’m out of her life.
Before I tell you how I do this, I should say this, to eliminate the hundreds of “you’re a horrible dad” comments I’ll otherwise get: My business trips are more often than not overnight, or one night away. For Asia trips, I’ll leave on Tuesday, arrive on Wednesday, speak on Thursday, and return home Thursday night, thanks to the dateline. I’m NOT away for months at a time, and so far, I’ve never missed a milestone. Just feeling like I should mention that.
Additionally, as she gets older, I plan on throttling back anyway, to walk her to school and whatnot. But for now, this is working great. So here’s what I do. It’s not rocket science – But it works.
The systems I use:
I use several automated systems, that control everything from my lighting to temperature, from motion sensors to air quality filters, as well as cameras. The majority of cameras are from Withings, (their Withings Home camera and app is simply spectacular.) I’m a huge, huge fan of all things Withings, I’ve written an article or two about how the data from Withings, combined with MyFitnessPal and Runkeeper, helped me lose 40 pounds, so it makes sense that I’d add the cameras to the mix.
What I like, other than the incredible ease of use and the amazing quality, is how simple they are not only to operate, but to get notified of movement (i.e., if the cat walks into my daughter’s room, etc.) Added bonus, the app doubles as a baby monitor with audio regardless of whether or not it’s open, so when I’m home, I can use that, instead of a separate monitor. There’s a “chat” feature built into the camera, so I can talk to my daughter anytime she’s near any of the cameras. So a morning that I’m away might start the night before, as she’s getting ready to go to bed (I should also mention that she’s either with my nanny, or my parents it’s not like I leave her there alone with a hamster water bottle and a salt lick tied to her crib.)
Before she goes to sleep, I’ll read her a story via FaceTime, and then ask her with what what light color she’d like to fall asleep, and to what color she’d like to wake up. Then she’ll get into bed, and I’ll use Sylvania’s WiFi lights with the Samsung SmartThings Hub to turn her lamp to her favorite color, and drop it to 20% with a 20 minute fadeout. I’ll turn on Withings as a baby monitor and listen to her room as I get into the shower and get dressed for my day. The beauty of being on the other side of the world, huh?
Over the course of the day, I’ll check in on her just to see her sleeping. Of course, if there was any movement outside of her usual tossing and turning, I’d get notified immediately, both to my phone, and my Apple Watch.
Around 6pm, I’ll come back to my hotel to get ready for a dinner meeting. As I’m changing, I’ll tell SmartThings to start turning on her light, with the color she picked last night, of course. I’ll listen to the app in baby monitor mode as I’m getting ready to leave, and when I hear “I’m awake, daddy!” I’ll click the mic feature on the Withings app and tell her good morning.
At some point, I’ll say good morning to either my parents or the nanny as well, and they’ll take it from there. When I get back from dinner, I check on the apartment one more time, reviewing the logs of door openings, etc., just making sure that nothing seems out of place. By this time, my daughter has left for preschool, and I know she won’t be back for several hours.
But wait – the nanny turned off the air conditioning in the apartment, and it’s going to be unexpectedly hot out today! I received an alert on my phone that the “too hot” temperature in the living room has been reached. Not wanting my cat to fade into a puddle of fur, I turn the AC back on in the living room, after checking the cameras to see where he’s currently sleeping. At any point, I can check to see that my daughter is where she’s supposed to be, because I put a Tile in her bag.
What about interaction?
Well, it’s pretty amazing what you can do with FaceTime, or even just photos. I document everywhere I go, and she’s making what she calls “travel with daddy list,” which are photos of the places I send her that she wants to go. (She’s got expensive taste, let me tell you…)
For me, the simple act of knowing I can see her and talk to her, whether I’m in the next room or the next continent, has made all the difference in the world. I can do what I’m best at, while not sacrificing being the best father I can be. Thanks to technology, a few cameras, and the occasional colored light.
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