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Family Matters
Perspectives from a parent – and international commuter
It is Friday, 13 January and I have boarded my  ight in Frankfurt for yet another regular trip to London. Like
many of you, I have recently joined the ranks of those whose work responsibilities require frequent international travel. After attending
a client meeting, I will  y back to Frankfurt in the evening.
I check my messages and see that my son has written to me: “I can’t believe that today is not a snow day at FIS.” I smile smugly to myself, knowing that Frankfurt’s airport deals pretty well with bad weather, until the pilot makes an announcement on the intercom that the  ight will be delayed for another hour. Ah well, both son and father appear o  to a tough start of the day.
While international travel has many implications for my professional life, I wanted to o er a few re ections on this subject as an FIS parent.
Initially, global commuting may appear quite glamourous. However, this misconception soon fades as extended time away from family takes its toll. A travelling parent is often forced to miss school performances or sporting events, may not be available to assist with challenging math homework, and cannot be present when children need a united parental front to address an issue.
I am fortunate to have a wonderfully supportive spouse and children who (for the most part) are relatively resilient and reliable. However, my new lifestyle has required that I retool some of my parenting skills; I hope they are worthwhile to share.
Firstly, I’ve learned that being out of sight does not need to result in being out of my children’s minds. It takes planning and concerted e ort, but scheduling phone and Skype calls, sending the unexpected text, or leaving a written note to be read while
I am away has made a huge di erence. I work hard to be an exceptional communicator with my clients and have realized my children are even more deserving of my e orts to keep us well connected. This requires that my work calendar also includes key school dates for my children so that
I can ask about the results of an exam or send a short text before a basketball game. I faithfully read FIS Calendar Highlights, Principal Newsletters and the Head of School News to keep abreast of key school events.
phone and Skype calls, sending the unexpected text, or leaving a written note to be read while I am away has made a huge di erence.
In addition, I am learning how to speak “Haiku.” This is the school’s online platform for communicating with parents and students regarding student activities, progress and achievement. While used di erently in each division, it is the best source of information to track my children’s FIS experience, so yes – Daddy is aware of what is going on! For students in the Primary or Elementary divisions, it may be more helpful to send an email to a child’s teacher when away on a long trip to request a short response from his/her perspective. Remember, FIS teachers provide their emails because they want to be helpful!
I now schedule my work life in alignment with the FIS calendar. Although some con icts are unavoidable, I do everything possible to ensure I am at home for important
Preparing for another morning commute
school events, parent conferences, and Board of Trustees meetings. My ongoing involvement in the school sends a clear message to my children that they remain my  rst priority. And I do listen to them – if my children read this, they will have noticed that
I have passed on their feedback with regard to lack of FIS snow days in a clever manner. When I do return home from an extended time away, I try to treat these days as a scarce resource to be used wisely. I have found that the cliché “quality time” is more important than “quantity time”, does indeed hold true.
Life as an international commuter isn’t always easy. But when sitting
in a distant airport awaiting another delayed  ight, I feel fortunate that my children are being educated at Frankfurt International School. Its caring community of administrators, teachers, sta  and coaches also provides a priceless safety net for students, and it makes the many sacri ces of a commuting lifestyle worthwhile.
Jonathan Clenshaw Chair, Board of Trustees
February 2017 FIS World 3

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