I apologize for the long title for this post but I’m really puzzled how come I have zero vacation time left when I haven’t gone on a “real” out-of-town vacation in years? I’m not panicking since I will continue to accumulate hours and should accrue enough for some time off during the summer.
I know that I took a day off here and there last summer and around the holidays. Sad to say, except for one beach excursion, I don’t remember what I did on those vacation days. I guess this is a reminder that rather than picking a random Friday and then see what’s happening around town, I should find a fun activity first and then schedule my vacation time around that event. Otherwise, I’ll end up staying home and only taking the kids to the park if I’m extra motivated. Apparently staycations don’t work that well for me, unless I plan in advance.
The good news is that I did plan my upcoming time off so at least I’ll remember what I did with those vacation days!
Are you planning your summer vacation already? Anyone going on big trips?
I’ve written about working mother guilt countless times. And I like reading and commenting on posts and articles on that issue, too. I feel it’s important for women to stop beating themselves over choosing or having to work, as their contributions to the family are just as invaluable as staying home in my not-so-humble opinion. Finally if you have to work or want to work, guilt is just a waste of time and people who try to make you feel bad about it are a waste of time.
So in my typical fashion, I felt the urge to dole out advice. Since my concrete tips for not being bitter at work seems most useful to people, I thought it would be helpful to offer real suggestions for reducing motherhood guilt as well.
After re-reading my own post, I trashed it. I realized it seemed a bit sanctimonious, as if my way for guilt-free motherhood was the best way. I also realized that my concrete tips may not work for different personalities, nor should I dictate the best way to spend “quality time” with your kids (and kids all have different preferences and personalities anyway!).
So for now I am giving my best tip, which is not concrete nor necessarily easy to follow, it’s all really mental. If you create a mental image of perfect motherhood or set up some unattainable ideal, or compare yourself to a mom who seems to be doing it “right”, then you’ll feel guilt. If you truly believe you’re doing your best and your kid is fed, sheltered, loved and happy, then you’ll stop wasting precious time on feeling unnecessary guilt.
The other day, a casual acquaintance asked me about alone time, and when I said exercise or my lunch break, she gave me this ‘look’ which clearly meant that those 2 activities didn’t count.
To me, getting some exercise is a great feat in and of itself. Getting to read a book, even if it’s in the middle of a work day, is also a great stress relief. After work, it’s family time and if I’m lucky, I get in some couple time and see old friends. My goal is to focus more on career this year so any other extra time will probably be taken up with chores, cooking or career-related activities/reading. There’s just zero time for “me” time, as in hobbies or whatever “counts” as quality me time. This brings me to the question. What does count as “me” time? Is it shopping by myself, rather than with friends? Reading on the weekends? Taking a walk by myself? Going to a spa by myself?? I could take a class I suppose. I guess I’m not quite sure what I’m supposed to do and if I should schedule “me” time?
I’m not saying that my acquaintance is 100% correct; after all, the early parenting years are extremely busy. However, I wonder if I’m shortchanging myself and asking for burn-out because I don’t take time for myself.
I resolved to focus on my career, bought an interview suit, and am now on the fence about even looking. My reason for this change of heart is that I want to enjoy my shorter commute and low-stress job. It’s not that my job is without its stresses and deadlines; it’s just that I’m a seasoned pro here who knows my job well, including short cuts and knowing the right people to ask for help in most situations. Any new job entails a learning curve and possibly longer work hours and the main reason for our move was to increase my time with the kids.
What I have done:
- I sort of updated my Linked In skills/profile.
- I read one or two articles related to my field. It’s a struggle as I’m constantly tempted by other reading materials. Now if I can apply what I read to my work, that would be a bonus.
- I emailed my boss about upping the game in terms of building my skills at my current job. I figure that if I’m too lame to make a serious move and check outside options or go for higher titles, then I should make the most of my current situation.
Still, it feels like the new suit hanging in my closet is a constant reminder of my backpedaling ways!
In other areas:
I ate french fries two days in a row. I didn’t make a resolution to eat healthier but eating worse is never a goal of mine!
I have not stepped into my gym in months.
I have prepped dinner a few nights but still find it a challenge to make the most of my extra half hour per night.
I am trying to not let the house fall into utter disorder/mess before cleaning. I sweep up almost daily and try not to let things pile up. This is good in a way as I’m learning that big cleanings are a bigger chore and headache. The not so good part is that I end up doing more cleaning overall.
I have snapped at my husband (and others) much too often. Not doing well in terms of appreciating loved ones.
I’m still a stressful basket case at times (though no longer due to traffic and commute!)
I have done some armchair activism but nothing more.
I signed up for a class — nothing related to work, just fun time with the kids. I can’t wait…
I’m taking a photo a day. It’s not about being creative or artistic, although I try my best. It’s about documenting the small things in life from a messy sink to messy desk to a messy family life. A mess is what I got…
So even though I didn’t officially make resolutions, in the back of my mind, I still have some goals that I’m trying to achieve..or not. How are you doing on your goals and resolutions?
After the Sandy Hook tragedy, there was a feel-good movement to do 26 acts of kindness in honor of the 26 victims of the shooting, not counting the mother Nancy Lanza. I haven’t followed this “movement” and I don’t know if people count small acts of kindness toward random strangers, like paying for someone’s cup of coffee. However, I personally feel that those 26 acts have to be more than small gestures and should include activism that could prevent future tragedies.
As I wrote on my blog and as comments on other people’s blogs, I truly don’t believe it requires a complicated solution. Similar tragedies in Australia, Europe and elsewhere have resulted in tighter gun/ammunition laws, resulting in lower gun fatality rates and near non-existence of massive shootings that are more commonplace in our gun-rights insanity. This is when the false freedom of a minority puts the majority in serious danger. I fear the day I have to send my kids to school.
For me, I’m planning to do my own 27 acts of kindness/activism. I might not log it publicly but this will include signing the gun control petition that’s circulating on the white house website, writing a letter or two, keeping informed of the issue, and as my 27th act in recognition of the murdered mother, figure out something I can do related to mental illness.
I will also try to focus my 27 acts (or possibly donations) on things that help kids and education/schools.
Here’s to a happier 2013!
Thoughts on the Connecticut elementary school shooting:
Mr. Obama said today that “we have been through this too many times” and “that “we are going to have to come together and take meaningful action to prevent more tragedies like this, regardless of the politics.”
When will that day come? It did not come after the 1999 Columbine shooting, or the 2007 Virginia Tech shooting, or the murders in Aurora.”
In China, on the same day as the connecticut tragedy, a man wounded 22 schoolchildren and 1 adult. Another country, another example of insanity, but the difference is that he had a knife and wounded the kids. Say what you will about China but it’s not easy to get your hands on assault rifles. Would you rather have a wounded child or a dead one?
Europe has tougher laws on guns as well. And while similar crimes can happen, it’s a true rarity.
I hate that the gun advocates have such influence on our society…can’t we just toughen the laws and see if it helps to reduce these atrocities? What we have now doesn’t work.
When is it finally going to be enough?
As a result of our move, I’ve gain about an extra hour per day — half an hour in the mornings and half an hour in the evenings. Even though we moved over a month ago, I haven’t done anything concrete with that extra time, other than unpacking and decorating, but I would love some advice.
I know that some super-motivated time management gurus would suggest exercising or tackling a major project in the mornings. After all, sleeping in isn’t really taking advantage of that extra time. However, I’m going to say now that sleeping in is my plan for the extra morning half hour.
What I am asking for is advice on what to do with the other half hour, after work. I really don’t want to waste it on watching TV or surfing the web.
Here are my ideas:
Nurture Relationships: Having more time and energy for kids and husband is always a plus. I want to really enjoy this extra time. I promised my husband I would be less grumpy..now that can be a hard resolution to keep…
Career management: I can update my C.V., browse websites for job opportunities, update my Linked In profile, read career-related materials (which can also be done at lunch), attend networking functions. I would love specific action items / tips. BTW, here are some great career-building tips from Cloud/Wandering Scientist.
Exercise: At least once per weekday, I plan to take a class. I’m also taking walks around neighborhood and can go to the park more often. Now I can get home and take a nice walk with the kids in the time it used to take me to drive all the way home!
Cook and Plan Meals: I’ve slacked off in this area and would love to start planning healthier meals on weeknights, rather than relying on Trader Joe’s.
Chores…Ugh: I want to do some smaller chores on weeknights rather than saving them up for weekends. With a long commute, I was tired and short on time. Now I guess I could pick up a mop once in a while. There are two almost opposing challenges to this idea. I hate chores YET I also worry that I’ll use my valuable “extra” time to doing chores.
What would you do with an extra half hour per night?
Posted in Advice, Children, Family, random thoughts, simple living
Tagged career capital, chores, commuting, exercise, happiness, moving, time, time management, tv, wandering scientist