Cherishing the dog days- the numbers behind vacation time

It’s August. It’s hot, and the cicadas are humming. But are you feeling any slower? One in three Americans don’t use all their earned vacation time, according to Families and Work Institute data. 2005 data from FWI finds very few U.S. employees (14%) take extended time off for their longest vacations, defined as 2 weeks or more including weekend days. Plus:

• 37% take less than a 7-day vacation including weekend days, 12% take 1 – 3 days, and 25% take
4 – 6 days;
• 49% take a 7 – 13-day vacation including weekend days; and
• 14% take a vacation of 2 weeks (14 days including weekend days) or more.

In terms of feeling overworked, the study found 31 percent of employees who rarely or never work during vacation are highly overworked versus 55 percent who often or very often work on vacation.
At the Huffington Post, Kari Henley writes,

“Ultimately, how we take, and how we use our vacation time, is a matter of personal responsibility. Beyond the concept of flex time, some trendsetting companies are tossing out the HR manual altogether – eliminating any sort of set vacation days, sick days or personal days. Employees simply take off what they need, as long as their work is getting done.

At a hearing on July 23rd, the congressional Joint Economic Committee reported that among employers with more than 1,000 workers, there has been a 25 percent increase in flexibility programs. Clearly, in the recession, offering flextime, compressed work weeks, and telecommuting is the best way to save jobs. As the workforce continues to technologically evolve, more employees are able to complete their work from remote locations. The upside of this trend, is an increased flexibility to bring work home and not feel ‘chained to a desk.’ The downside of working from home, is finding the discipline to walk away now and then for a much needed break.”

Henley makes an important point. Increased flexibility is a good thing. But if we never learn to tone down the pace, flexibility will be a mixed blessing. My wish for the future of work life is also a wish for the future of parenting. I want kids, and parents, to have time to enjoy the dog days of summer. To slow down and take time.

In an interview with Lisa Belkin, Carl Honore, the leader of the “Slow Parenting” movement, explains “the “Slow” in this context does not mean doing everything at a snail’s pace. It means doing everything at the right speed. That implies quality over quantity; real and meaningful human connections; being present and in the moment.”

“To me, Slow parenting is about bringing balance into the home. Children need to strive and struggle and stretch themselves, but that does not mean childhood should be a race. Slow parents give their children plenty of time and space to explore the world on their own terms. They keep the family schedule under control so that everyone has enough downtime to rest, reflect and just hang out together. They accept that bending over backwards to give children the best of everything may not always be the best policy. Slow parenting means allowing our children to work out who they are rather than what we want them to be.”

For more parents’ takes on “slow parenting,” visit these sites:

Bethany Sanders at ParentDish

Karen Murphy at Work It, Mom

The organization Take Back Your Time

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  1. Pingback: Time for a vacation: Boost your career by having a life | Makeup and Health

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