Elizabeth has founded many businesses, she is a mentor, an author. She founded growatyourpace.com where you can find transformational courses. She is also the founder of Spoken Lives, where women share. She will tell us a little more about what she is doing now and Elizabeth has kindly agreed to share with us what it is like to travel for business when you are a mum and what she did that worked.
Website (book information and survey)
Welcome to Holding the Fort Abroad, the podcast for expats with traveling partners. My name is Rhoda Bangerter. I'm a certified coach and the author of the book Holding The Fort Abroad. In this podcast, I interview men and women who live abroad and have traveling partners so that we can all benefit from their wisdom and experience. I also invite relationship experts to apply their expertise to this topic. Today my guest is Elizabeth Verwey. We met through a mutual friend and colleague. Elizabeth has founded many businesses. She's a mentor and an author she founded firstname.lastname@example.org, where you can find transformational courses. She's also the founder of Spoken Lives where women share. She’ll tell us a little bit more about what she's doing now, and Elizabeth has kindly agreed to share with us what it's like to travel for business when you are mom, and what she did that worked.
Elizabeth welcome to the show!Elizabeth Verwey (:
Oh, thank you so much for the invite.Rhoda Bangerter (:
Thank you so much for being here. When Lidia Lae introduced us and we started talking, I immediately thought, I would love to hear what Elizabeth has to say about this topic. It's very real for a lot of people. And you’re mom of two children, right? They're grown up now.Elizabeth Verwey (:
Yes. And two grandchildren at this point.Rhoda Bangerter (:
Oh, really? Ok. I didn't know. Congratulations.Elizabeth Verwey (:
Yeah, thank you.Rhoda Bangerter (:
So you did this for real, right? You've traveled for businesses for work. And you were raising children at the same time. So I'm looking forward to hearing what you know, how you developed relationships with the children, what worked, what maybe didn't. But before we dive into that, can you just tell us a little bit more about what you're doing now? Because I think that my listeners would be interested in hearing some of the work that you’re doing now and some of the resources you’re offering.Elizabeth Verwey (:
Absolutely. Well, right now I'm wrapped up in writing a book, and the working title is ‘Till Death Do Us Part’, and it's about people supporting their exes when they get sick or when they're in need. And I've interviewed 20 people so far, all in different countries, and I'm looking to interview 50 people for this book. And I have a survey. They can go to elizabethverwey.com and that'll be in the show notes. I'm doing a survey just to see what you think you would do, because what you think you will do and what you actually do when the time arises may be different. So I'm trying to ascertain what that looks like.Rhoda Bangerter (:
Wow. What an interesting research project. So the surveys for people to go into…Elizabeth Verwey (:
And it's people who have an ex.Rhoda Bangerter (:
For people who have an ex, yeah. And what they would think, what they think they might do.Elizabeth Verwey (:
Yes. The 20 interviews that I've done are extraordinary stories and their love stories and the completion that comes in a relationship, even after you've been divorced for decades, is just notable. It's life changing for people.Rhoda Bangerter (:
Wow. You must be hearing some amazing stories of people. I'm really, really looking forward to reading that. Is that coming out probably next year or…?Elizabeth Verwey (:
No, I'm looking for a publisher at this point. And I would prefer to use a publisher for this book.Rhoda Bangerter (:
Okay. But this is not the only project you're working on, right?Elizabeth Verwey (:
No, I juggle a few. I love ‘My Spoken Lives’. That's a women's speaker series, and it's been so successful. I had other licensees until the Pandemic, and then of course, I was the only one who went online. But what I did during the pandemic was write a three-part course called Your Applause Academy, and people can learn how to plan a speaker series and launch it and make money with it.Rhoda Bangerter (:
Like a speaker series, what you mean?Elizabeth Verwey (:
Well any topic or hobby or I mean, mine is women sharing stories of transformation, of resilience and you know, there's speaker series on all sorts of special interest topics. And it's incredible. I mean, we are inspired by other people's stories.Rhoda Bangerter (:
So it's showing people how they can explain their topic or their expertise and share it with other people.Elizabeth Verwey (:
Yeah. So how they can plan an event, how they can launch it, and how they can make money with it.Rhoda Bangerter (:
I got it. Okay. And is that on email@example.com?Elizabeth Verwey (:
Yes, it is.Rhoda Bangerter (:
So you have your own Spoken Lives that you run, and then you teach people how to run events?Elizabeth Verwey (:
Yes. But it’s an online course, so it's easily accessible. And then I have been, for the last 25 years, mentoring business owners, and I continue to do that, but that's really by referral, you know, business. But if anybody on this podcast is interested, they could look at officementors.com.Rhoda Bangerter (:
Okay. Okay. So when you were traveling for, as we seamlessly move on to the topic of today, so when you were traveling, were you working for a company or did you have your own company?Elizabeth Verwey (:
Well, I was growing a charity to the national level. And as you know, Canada is quite large, so sometimes I'd be away for five days at a time. And it was interesting. I mean, all the different ages and stages and what different things I had to do to make it comfortable for the children. and comfortable for me. Who do you wanna hear about first?Rhoda Bangerter (:
Elizabeth Verwey (:
Oh my goodness. The first time it was absolutely agonizing. And then I realized when I came back and the children weren't broken
Actually when the children were little, say under a year, I would leave recorded messages that my then husband would play for them whenever they were feeling a little lonely to hear mom's voice. And as they got older, we turned that into, I'd record reading a book with them and have them on my lap, and then he could just put them on his lap and play the recording and turn the page at the same time. And then we had a whole library of those, and the child would grab the book, he would queue up the recording, and then the child could just read the book along with me, you know, and I'd say, turn the page and take time to turn the page slowly so that a child could turn the page. But that gave them great comfort to hear my voice. And then at night, of course I always wore a nightgown a couple of nights before I left and then put it over their pillow so that when they woke up, they had mom's smell close by or a blanket or, you know, something that had mom’s smell so that they felt a little better waking up in the night.Rhoda Bangerter (:
Wow. So I mean, they're older now. What do they say about those days? Do they mention it? Or is it not even an issue?Elizabeth Verwey (:
I don't think it's an issue because the things we talk about, it doesn't come up. You know, when they were young I worked at home, which of course back then wasn't really as common. They probably didn't know any friends that worked at home. So my one child has mentioned that she felt I was always in meetings
Oh my word. So he kept them. Yeah. Oh, that is so cool. It just shows what's important, right. When you mentioned like, you know, sometimes we can be home, and yet the kids are like, where are you? You know, I need you and ‘No, no, no, you're not present’. You know? Or ‘you don't feel present.’ Whereas actually with everything you were doing in terms of what you talked about, you felt present. Even when you were gone, they felt like you were around and your voice was there, your smell was there. You probably knew what was going on as well, right?Elizabeth Verwey (:
Oh, I don't know. They had a whole different life when dad was in charge.Rhoda Bangerter (:
Elizabeth Verwey (:
Absolutely. Absolutely.Rhoda Bangerter (:
And I think they can adjust to that, right? They know very well.Elizabeth Verwey (:
Yes. Yeah.Rhoda Bangerter (:
They know very well.Elizabeth Verwey (:
Yeah. And now technology has made it so much easier, the reliability of something like FaceTime or Zoom. But the technology is always improving. And so I thought about now what I would do, and I do a lot of this with my grandchildren because they're in different cities. So we will eat the same meal. Like, we'll get Chinese food and eat together, even though the timezones are a little bit different. We'll, they're not different enough that it's a
Or I'll read them a picture book, the little one. And when the lockdowns were on my one child needed to work at home, but his child was home, so it was really tricky. So sometimes he'd say, well, I'm just gonna check my email, and I'd read her a story and then play a few games and, you know, that sort of thing. And then we'd just talk. Sometimes she'd actually take the iPad, she'd go under her bed and put the iPad just there. So we had this private kind of talk feeling to our visit, and she'd tell me all these secrets, you know,
Oh yeah. You knew what was going on.
She would feel so secret in her little space under her bed, you know? So technology has given us so much that way, you know?
Rhoda Bangerter (:
And actually my dad recorded hours and hours and hours of stories of Paddington Bear and Bert and my kids listened to him every night. So grandpa was always around. So with a parent, it works very well as well, I think for there to be that relationship. So overall, like you left when they were pretty young and you were traveling throughout the years. So overall, as you look back now, you can see you have a relationship with your kids.Elizabeth Verwey (:
Oh, I have a strong relationship, but I was only away for five days at a time. Right. It wasn't as long as a lot of women have to travel. But I mean, you spend time before and after if you focus, time is focused time. If you spend focused time before the trip and, and when you get home, if you block that off, then of course it stays with them, I mean we’re their moms
Elizabeth Verwey (:
Now I want to say one thing because my father traveled quite a bit when I was young. And this might be a good tip for a mom. Now, I didn't think about it at the time, but he used to travel extensively and he used to bring me back a little mouse figurine from each trip and he'd bring back a story. He'd say, you know, I got to the hotel and they wanted me to go for a meeting, but I said to them, no, I have to go and find this mouse. You know, I looked high and low and I went up this street and I went down this street and I said to people, well, I need a mouse figurine. And so I found this one and I brought it home. You know, and as an adult, I can look back and think, ‘Gosh, I wonder if he bought them all in Toronto or if his secretary had a mouse figurine collection she wanted to get rid of. Right. Like, what is the scoop?’ And of course he is gone now, so I don't know. But they had sweet little boxes and with these big fancy stories and I just felt like he just thought about me the whole trip.Rhoda Bangerter (:
That's beautiful. Yeah. Isn't it? Yeah. That's beautiful. It makes you feel special, right? That you're an important part of their life.Elizabeth Verwey (:
Yeah, absolutely. And I think my partner was in on rotating shifts, so I think that our whole family life maybe was more fluid than a lot of people's. You know, he'd come home from midnight shift at six in the morning and we'd go off and bowl and with the kids, and then he'd go to sleep for the day and the kids and I would go and do some other activity.Rhoda Bangerter (:
So there was flexibility maybe in there that's maybe necessary to make it work, huh?Elizabeth Verwey (:
Yeah. But by working at home I was able to see them off in the morning and sometimes they were coming home at lunch in high school and that sort of thing. And I could stop for a few minutes. And then after school we always, I still have afterschool snack.
Yeah. But maybe that's something that, you know, people who maybe are moms who are traveling longer, maybe that's something they can put towards their employer and say, ‘Listen, I can I work from home?’ You know, remote work now is so big. I think that can definitely be an argument to say, well, ‘I can work from home when I come back from a trip.’ Maybe if it's possible I go into the office a couple of days and then work from home a couple of days that rebalances it a little bit more.
But how did you not collapse? Because you're traveling, you're working long hours, you are also giving specific attention to your family. It's a lot.Elizabeth Verwey (:
Well, I found that like back in the day, I used B&Bs when I really felt like I needed some nurturing, because often in the B&Bs people were taking care of you. And even today with Airbnb, it feels like home rather than the sterile hotel room. But I guess I was pretty good about putting buffers in blocking off time either before I left or when I got back to rebalance. You know, I like to think I have pretty healthy boundaries. Like that's actually something we didn't touch on, but I'd like to touch on is some women seem to, I don't know if they accept it, but they don't change it, that they come home to a real chaotic, messy home.
So the first time that that happened,
So you're saying you didn't take on the whole house maintenance while you were away and while you are home all the time. Like I'm trying to shift it too, but it's like, ‘Wait, why is it up to me?’. So you wouldn't prepare the trip by putting meals in the freezer and..?Elizabeth Verwey (:
No, no. I did make sure groceries were there because I felt that that was fair. Leave them with the tools that they needed, but I didn't prepare frozen meals or anything like that. I'm sure they had some frozen dinners that they bought at the grocery store or went to McDonald's or whatever. But he is a good cook actually. He might even be a better cook than I am. And so he did take care of the food for sure. And you know, coming home to a time and placeRhoda Bangerter (:
So maybe that's it, it's not ticking on the whole lot and the travel and the work and the relationship with the kids. And then on top of that, trying to shoulder the whole house chores at the same time. That would be a lot.Elizabeth Verwey (:
Yes, absolutely. Absolutely. You have to take time to train your partner.Rhoda Bangerter (:
Yeah. Well also, well, I mean, I know men who are much better at house management than some, than some of us. Not naming any names here between you and me, but it would be me. But the house usually functions better when he's on his own and I'm the one traveling in this instance. But I think, you know, even just discussing it between the two of you and saying, ‘Okay, let's get someone in. Let's get it done.’
As a traveling mom, I'm not the one that's gonna take it all on my shoulders. No, I think that's really good advice. What about when they got older teenagers? Because I've spoken to moms where their teenagers are in another country. The teenager might be struggling, they might be feeling guilty.
Yeah. When they get older, I mean, hopefully they're able to express their feelings and talk about what they're going through. But when my kids went off to university, it was hard when they wouldn't call, you'd think, well, are they having such a great time
They knew what to do with them.Elizabeth Verwey (:
Yes. Oh, absolutely. Again, you have to take time for training. I think my children, when they turned 12, they had to make a meal a week. And it didn't matter. I told them it, it could be a vegetable you know, a meat, a starch, like it, they had to figure it out. So I'll never forget one time for the second child, first meal, she made hot dogs corn on the cob and the bun. And I thought, okay, technically that's a vegetable
But it evolved. Right. I'm assuming!Elizabeth Verwey (:
Absolutely.Rhoda Bangerter (:
And they became more independent.Elizabeth Verwey (:
Yeah. They both left for university being able to cook meals and got many kudos for it, you know?Rhoda Bangerter (:
So how did you train them?Elizabeth Verwey (:
Well, by asking them for help in the kitchen and that sort of thing, you know?Rhoda Bangerter (:
It’s just teaching them by involving them and showing them.Elizabeth Verwey (:
I'm divorced now and my boyfriend's children are younger. And I mean the youngest is going off to university. But the daughter, the older one said to me like, I learned how to cook at your place, like helping you. And you know, you just let them do the stirring. You might show them how to cut up some garlic or smash some garlic, that sort of thing. But I gave her a couple of low key and a couple of easy university meals and she was just thrilled to have those.Rhoda Bangerter (:
That's great. When I sent you the advanced questions, I asked you was there a difference with the different ages? And you were like, well, for the mom or for the children. And so you've covered the children a bit, but what about the mom? It didn't even occur to me to ask that question. Like, is it different for a mom traveling at different ages of her age?Elizabeth Verwey (:
That's why I asked the question, because when I was traveling, when I was younger, I found I got some unwanted attention from men and I got many kind offers,
But one time is a remarkable story. I was in this small community and I was opening a storefront and I went out to make some evening pitches to one of the great service clubs. And there were a hundred construction workers staying at the best place in this small town.
And so I walked in at, you know, probably 9:30 at night and I'm walking with my head down to my room and the guys have got all the doors open between the rooms with cases of beer and they're all rigged up and shouting back and forth. And of course then just silence follows me as I go by. They're like, just silence follows. And I got into my room and I, you know, put a chair up under the
But it was just a lot of men for one woman!Elizabeth Verwey (:
Yeah, I was the only woman
How interesting. See, that's why I wanted to interview you because you've done this. And there are aspects of it that I wouldn't have thought of. So it's very interesting. So your children are older. You said you have a strong relationship with them. What do you think was the most important thing you did or that that was the most important thing for the relationship that makes it strong?Elizabeth Verwey (:
Respect and kindness? I had on the bulletin board in our kitchen, I can't remember everything it said, but we had family rules, you know, respect for one another was one of them. But I think honestly I have witnessed parents being very sarcastic to their children. And then when their children are sarcastic to them, they are baffled. They just get so upset. And I think, ‘Oh my goodness, you don't see this, like, put the mirror up
I mean when I would prepare dinner or if my husband prepared dinner, the children were often sitting at, we had a little kitchen table and they'd sit there and talk to us and talk about their day and that sort of thing. And it was always amazing to me how they would just kind of like homing pigeons, like come in when food was being prepared. But that was a time that I slowed down or, you know, whoever was cooking dinner was static and you could talk to them. And that's probably how the children got involved in the meal.
But I'll have to say one time we had a big kitchen renovation. It took six weeks and it went like clockwork. It was fantastic. But we had the kitchen in the living room and I think we washed dishes in the bathroom upstairs. But the children were kind of feeling that I was never available because the normal kitchen there was nowhere to sit for them. But the flow wasn't there. And I probably had done a lot of freezer meals so that I was more microwaving than cooking cuz I didn't have a stove. I had a hot plate, but I didn't have an oven or anything. So I think that that's an interesting thing. Like where in your house do you gather where you just have time, you know, make that place, if you have a games night, we often had a Friday night that we would play a game board games. And the kids really liked that.Rhoda Bangerter (:
Yeah. So it’s having that space where you're available where they can then talk and be themselves and they know that you're gonna be there at that time. I think for a traveling parent, that's maybe the space they're missing. But that's maybe the space to look for.Elizabeth Verwey (:
Yes. You can have it when you're home, you know that, right, Friday night, whatever, or a weeknight.
I know that one other thing, as they came into teenage years, we were trying to do Sunday night dinners. It was not consistent. But what I did was I tacked on a really nice dessert and we'd have a family meeting over that dessert. And so that sort of tempted them. And on my fridge I would have a, you know, family meeting agenda, just a blank piece of paper. And then anybody who wanted to add anything could add it. And then when the family meeting came, if there was nothing on the agenda, I might put a few things and it, we had to go around the table and say one nice thing, you know, like, ‘Thank you for picking up after …’, or ‘Thank you for driving me to whatever.’ Then we could start in on the things we needed to resolve. Because again, that whole respect and showing people that you could talk about both things over dessert and it was a cozy time. Often we didn't leave after dessert was finished. We'd just sit there and talk and they'd ask about things. And you know, that's the thing. Open communication, I think will solve so many teenage issues. You know, a lot of my friends, they didn't wanna talk to their kids about sex. And I'd say to them, well, what did you get very much from the schoolyard? Talk about sex. You know,
Other place, other things. Yes. Thank you so much. The time's already flown. I cannot believe it. Do you wanna add anything or?Elizabeth Verwey (:
Yes. I just had a sudden thought also driving them places. Like I know kids now put in the headphones and I would just say, you know, this is a time when we can talk cuz they were using different technology. But I'd initiate conversations because if you're both facing forward
Yeah. And those are important for moms who are away, that when they come back they make time for that. And sometimes to set some sort of ritual or something that maybe they when they come back or before they leave, or finding the moments where our teens talk. Trying different things to see when they talk. And sometimes on Zoom it doesn't really work that well. I think it's those impromptu moments that work the best. But it is true. I thinking to us, it’s often around certain moments of the day, you know, bedtime or food. Maybe that is something to think about too. You know, we find when we sit down together, we are talking.
And so whether my husband is home, cuz he's usually the one who travels or not, we still try to keep that format. And if he's away he's on a screen and he can at least participate in the conversation. But because it's the same format that carries through when he is away and when he is home, it kind of gives that continuity and the family meetings as well. I know Stephen Covey from the ‘Principles of Efficient People’ - is that the title of the book?
‘Raising Self-Reliant Children in a Self-Indulgent World’ was the book that I used religiously. Oh wait no, Stephen Covey, that wasn't it, it was another Stephen…Rhoda Bangerter (:
Was it? Yeah. I'll look it up. I'll put in the show notes. I'll put all your links in the show notes, how people can contact you. Thank you so much for sharing about your experience and I think it's encouraging, you know, for the moms who are living it now, who have young children at home to know that, you know, they're not alone, they're not crazy. No. That if they put a few things in place that it's feasible. Yes. So thank you very much.Elizabeth Verwey (:
Well thank you. It's been a pleasure to speak with you today.