With boys aged 8 and 10 at home, SportsCenter anchor Chris McKendry takes “business trips” — such as two weeks in Paris as a host for the French Open starting on ESPN2 on May 26 — that require much planning and a team/family effort to keep the home front running smoothly.
“I leave incredible amounts of notes for my husband and our sitter — a page per day — with everything from the boys’ activities to the school lunch schedule and friends’ birthday parties with the present already wrapped,” she said. “Then I review it with them by phone every day.”
McKendry also works the Australian Open every January, a trip of nearly three weeks. One thing she’s learned from experience: You can’t control everything from a continent away.
“My husband’s way may not always be the way I would get things done, but at the end of the day it’s all fine.”
As the boys get older, it does get easier for her, if not for them.
“My first long trip was Wimbledon in 2007 when my younger son was just 22 months. Now they’re more self-sufficient, but they ask ‘Why do you have to go? Can’t you just do SportsCenter?’
“I tell them lots of moms travel, I just travel to cooler places.”
Technology also helps keep the family connected. In January, McKendry watched her older boy play the bass in a school orchestra concert — the instrument “towers over him!” she jokes — via Facetime. Her husband “films” the performance with an iPad.
She’ll do that again in June, even though she’ll be watching at 1 a.m. Paris time.
Sometimes, McKendry’s mom comes up from Philadelphia to help. In the process, she’s become quite popular with her grandsons.
“One time during the Australian Open, it snowed and she kept them home, assuming it was a ‘snow day.’ Now the boys chant, ‘Bring Back Grandmom!’”
McKendry also works the US Open, spending about 10 days in New York before commuting from her Connecticut home the final few days of the tournament. At each of the tennis majors, she has a helpful support system.
“[ESPN tennis analysts] Chrissie [Evert], Pam [Shriver] and Mary Joe [Fernandez] are all moms and we talk about kids and parenting all the time, comparing notes,” McKendry said. “Chrissie has three teenagers. She’s an incredible inspiration.
“Of course, it’s not just the moms who miss their kids. [ESPN tennis analysts] Patrick [McEnroe] and Darren [Cahill] have young kids and no one tires of looking at all the latest pictures from home as we pass around our phones.”