Give me a holiday and it’s like I just got extra credit at work: I’m giddy for the bonus time to catch up on my inbox. I worked hard to create a job I love, that gives me the freedom to do what I love to do. So, life-balance wise, my life can sometimes feel as if it is the holidays all the time. I pepper my weeks with little indulgences, so when the holidays come, it’s not with a huge sigh of relief that I will finally get a chance to relax, connect with friends.
There is a downside to this I have to watch out for. Have you ever heard that saying, if you do something one way, you do everything else in your life the same way? The challenge of my personal style of balance is that, not only is my work life peppered by the personal, but my personal life is dotted with work. The challenge for me is often remembering the clear divisions between work and play.
Work Less My learning curve has given me sad and funny reminders. The big one is realizing when I am working instead of participating with the family. It took a few years to learn how to recognize that imbalance and right it. After working through one holiday, when everyone else came back to work refreshed, I was burnt out and got sick. I had to take time off. With no family around to enjoy the time off together, and guilt for taking time off when we had just had it for the holidays.
And holidays are not just when the calendar states they are. I learned to take cues from those who love and need me this year when my five-year-old daughter got my two-year old son ready for Thanksgiving. Two days ahead, she painted his toenails pink, dressed him in her lavender sequined ballet outfit, and cut his hair. That’s when I realized the holidays don’t start at 5 p.m. on Friday. They start when the family begins staring at me like a pack of whippets, dressed like magical fairies.
Play More Even at the decreased level I was working over Thanksgiving, all through the holiday, I became acutely aware that everyone else was having outrageous, no-school, vacation holiday fun. It was a shock for me to wonder what I was doing answering emails when everyone else was playing. The Christmas tree going up on State Street, everyone else out having a ball, and me in the office grinding away … that’s when it’s time to wrap it up.
Sometimes I have to force myself to take time off. But when I do, I get to experience all that comes from really relaxing, eating a ton, family fun, and everything it represents. When you’re plopped together with the phone off and nothing to do but be together, you get to bask in fullness, satisfaction, family connection. Even the best-planned balance in action can’t rival those few precious days.