Every year, the personal days I plan to use to do at least one thing for myself seem to slip away as a day here or there taking care of minor emergencies as they come along. For example, I used the last three to do things like take the kids to the dentist and my mother to the doctor. On top of that, my husband and I always feel obligated to meet up with family during summer and winter vacations, which is nice, but can also be stressful. Net-net, at the end of every year, I never feel like I have used my vacation time as well as I could have. What’s the secret to booking a little R&R for me personally?
Finding the time to recharge your own batteries is one of the most common dilemmas, if not the most common, that working women face. It’s surprising how difficult it can be to carve out vacation time or personal days just for yourself or as a couple. The problem is, nobody sees enough of you (that includes your mother, mother-in-law, children, the dentist, friends, and even acquaintances), so given the opportunity, they will always clamor for more. The squeaky wheel always gets oiled and you’re not likely to really squeak at yourself, so it’s little wonder that others’ demands shape your vacations and personal days. Here are some thoughts on how to reclaim a little of that time for yourself.
- Part I – Boundaries. If you’re like many working moms, you probably feel guilty taking a day off “without a legitimate reason,” let alone a week. But let us put it bluntly: you are a legitimate reason! We know it can be incredibly difficult to establish boundaries that enable you to take time for yourself without offending someone who just needed you to do x, y, and z. We know there are people who will look at you askance for (gasp!) working and taking some vacation time for yourself/by yourself. They exist. But they don’t have to live with a stressed-out, frazzled person – your family does! So do the people you really care about a favor and stop worrying about what someone else might think and give yourself permission to take a few days each (and every) year to recharge your own batteries.
- Part II – Schedules. Obviously you want to set aside some of your personal days for unplanned emergencies. And it’s probably neither realistic nor too much fun to skip out on family vacations and get-together’s entirely. But if you don’t plan ahead to take time for yourself, it just won’t happen. Rather than scheduling your free days around “obligations” try mapping out a schedule from the opposite perspective. Plan one “fun” day to share with just your husband, one full day to goof off with each child, and one day just for yourself. Once those dates are set in stone, then plan your other vacations and obligations around those. If you have a family vacation or group holiday that is likely to be stressful, try to sneak in one afternoon break for yourself.