Wednesday, November 10, 2021

Days off + Shouldless Days

I wrote this post mid-day on Tuesday and then got a call from daycare at 3 saying Will had a fever. Ugh. I did a rapid antigen Covid test at home and it was negative so hopefully he’s only home today so I can still have 2 relaxing/productive days off! Really tired of someone always being sick in our house!! 

I am very excited to have the rest of this week off from work, starting today! I was feeling a little worn out back in October so I decided to take 3 days off in November. My company moved to "manage your time" in 2020 or maybe earlier? I used to get a generous 6 weeks off before the change in our PTO policy. I am sure the company changed it knowing that people tend to not use their time off but my goal has been to take around 6 weeks off/year. It was easier to track pre-kids because I mostly took time off for vacations. Now a lot of my days off are due to being sick or a kid being sick. 

But even without tracking, I know I haven't taken/scheduled 6 weeks of vacation days! I did use PTO to add 4 weeks to my 16 weeks of maternity leave but my boss told me to view it as me taking 2 weeks at the end of 2020 and 2 weeks in 2021 instead of 4 weeks of my 2021 leave since I barely took any days off last year thanks to the pandemic (I have a very kind, thoughtful boss). 

Looking back at the days I have taken off for reasons besides illness, they are for daycare closures, kid doctor appointments, and trips to the lake. Daycare closures and kid doctor appointments are not exactly "fun." The lake trips were fun, but they are not exactly relaxing since Will sleeps more poorly when away from home. They are certainly worth it and I look forward to our time at the lake over Thanksgiving, but I don't exactly come back "refreshed."

Thus, my reason for taking 3 days off this week! I wanted to make one day a "shouldless day." I used to take those quarterly pre-kids. Now I think twice a year is a more reasonable goal. Shouldless days are as they sound - I don't do anything I feel I "should" do. So no house work, organization projects, errand-running. I just give myself time to "be." I have a deep tissue massage booked for Thursday but no other plans besides that. I'm sure I will exercise, read, cook dinner, take a nap, etc - which are all things that I enjoy, especially when I am on my own and not juggling watching kids. 

I also have some 'to do' items so there will be a productivity component to my days off. Paul has his preschool screening on Wednesday, I plan to sell my remaining maternity clothes to a consignment shop (will not get much but I just want them out of the house and not in a landfill! I'm selling them at a place where I've bought most of my maternity clothes), we have the fireplace wood burning to gas conversion consultation on Friday, and I'm sure I'll identify other tasks to do on a quiet weekend instead of while juggling watching the kids on a weekend day. 

I'm hoping my 2022 PTO will include more adventures, though. 2020-2021 were just not the year for adventures, pandemic aside, as I was pregnant for a good chunk of 2020 and then 2021 was all about having a baby/adjusting to life as a family of 4. So it actually wasn't the worst time for a pandemic? Obviously there is never a good time for a pandemic and I hope I don't live through another one. But it didn't cancel any trips for me. So far for 2022, we are planning to go to Tucson, AZ for about 5 days in February to visit my sister/take a break from the cold and we are hoping to go somewhere, kid-free, for our 5-year anniversary in May. 

All this is to say - don't let the lack of plans or adventures keep you from using your vacation time!! It's easy to kind of muddle through the days and forget to plan days off, especially if it's not tracked by your company's HR. I harp on my husband to follow my lead but he is TERRIBLE about taking time off! He did seem a bit envious of my days off this week so we'll see if that pushes him to schedule at least a day off!

Do you have any time off planned for the remainder of the year? Are you good about using your PTO? 


Stephany said...

Yessss! I am so proud of you for taking 3 days off just because. And I really hope you get to enjoy some "shouldless" time even though you're with Will. Argh!

I have no problem taking PTO, even if I'm not going anywhere or doing anything. Even if I end up doing a little work while I'm on PTO, I still have my OOO on and don't have to respond to any messages or put out any fires, and that is IDEAL. I'm taking the week of Thanksgiving off and from Dec 23 - Jan 3, and I cannot wait for it!

Jordan said...

This is so true! I joined a company that has "unlimited time off" in April of this year and have hardly taken any time. I am going to take the entire week of Thanksgiving off and I'm sooo excited for a break. This is also my first year of not having the office close between Christmas and New Year's, which I realize is really lucky considering I've been out of college for 11 years! My boss told me to just take the time off, but I want to save it since I have a lot of trips already planned for 2022. So excited to start traveling again!

Elisabeth said...

Oh no. I hated those calls from preschool. I feel like they're a lot less frequent now that the kids are older and in public school (they get sick less + they also seem to average 1 day off per week due to holidays and in-services).

I really hope Will is feeling better soon, no one else comes down with anything, and that you get right back on track with your PTO sans kids in the house. A massage sounds like a great activity on a "shouldless" day.

I've done an iteration of this sort of thing before but it has always been a bit obscure. I think naming something gives it validity and structure and helps it become repeatable. I love calling it "shouldless" - I may just have to come up with a way to pull one of these off before the new year.

Also, I LOVE getting rid of clothing items by donating them/consigning them. It feels so satisfying to get them out of the house AND to see them get repurposed and enjoyed by someone else. I often have three bags on the go: donate to charity, consign, give to a friend. And the kids don't know it yet but tomorrow (they're off school for Canadian Remembrance Day) we're going to tackle some closets and get rid of some clothes. I actually love this activity. The kids...not so much.

katielookingforward said...

I hope you were able to get your massage even with the kiddo sickness! My company isn't letting us carry over 5 days anymore (I banked 5 the year I started) so I always take my 20 allowed, but also have 5 available if any super bad would happen. Since I won't be able to do that in 2022, I had those extra days to burn, so I took a couple long weekends in the fall (which I shouldn't have done because it was our busy season) and now I'll have every Friday off in December. I know this extra free time won't happen as life changes (if it does change for me the way I hope) but I'm glad you are still prioritizing those should less days. They are important!

Jeanie said...

I always loved unscheduled vacation days at home. They just were the best. I ca see why they are harder to grab with two little guys! That's a most generous company policy and it sounds like they work with you very well for it, too.

Good luck with Will -- I hope he's on the mend and soon. It's that time....

Jolene - EverydayFoodie said...

I don't have to think about my time off, as it's scheduled for me. There are perks to being a teacher, as we get a bit more time off than most (although my friends with EDOs and 8 weeks of vacation time are pretty much in line with teachers), but the one downfall is we don't get to choose when our holidays are, which means I've had to miss a lot of vacations with friends, etc. as most people I know don't want to travel at the most expensive times of the year when teachers are off. It can also be a challenge to go to certain events or things we want to go to if they don't fall during my scheduled time off, and sometimes it's hard for Christopher to get the same time off as me.