They say if you can do what you love, then you’ll never work a day in your life. As I enter my 10th year with Booster, so much of that rings true. Working alongside an amazing team, leading a group of young adults who are passionate about changing the world, and partnering with school administrators and volunteers to resource students and schools - it’s a dream. Even though the days are full of enjoyment, it is… still work.
I am a mom of three kids (6,4 & 2). For any working moms out there, we are often wearing “the hat” of mom, leader, friend, spouse, volunteer, and more…add to the list! So you can imagine how I felt when I was told I had five required days off! Five full days to nourish the other parts of me, with the blessing, encouragement – actually, insistence! -- of my company. What a gift.
So, what does a busy working mom do when she’s been given 120 hours with no career obligations? Here are a few things I took away…
- You can’t separate the inseparable. We were given this time off so we could relax, recharge and NOT work. Yet not only did I catch myself thinking about work, I felt guilty for it! During my first few days off, this was hard for me. I soon realized, it’s okay, I had to welcome the thoughts about work, write them down and let them pass. I also reminded myself it was okay to think about things besides family.
We hear a lot about work life balance and the idea of “compartmentalizing” different aspects of the day. Truly though, you can’t separate work from home. When we enter our place of work, thoughts and obligations of motherhood do not simply fade away. Similarly, when the clock strikes 5PM, the mental load of work does not leave us, just because we’re finished with the business day. No matter what your job may be, you ultimately bring work home with you (especially when so many of us are working from home!). I am always going to be fully me. There are no “hats” to take off. All those aspects of life make me who I am, so I embraced it!
- Find joy in the small things. “Five days off? What are you going to do?“ It was tempting to jam pack our days, plan that vacation that has been on hold (thanks, covid) or meet friends daily. Instead, I learned to find joy in the daily things. My time was no longer being split between zoom calls, pings on slack, and the sweet demands of small children. I was able to just be “mom.” We were able to spend time as a family playing in the backyard, swimming, or simply sorting toys without me wondering when the next “need” would happen from work. I was able to slow down and be intentional with my time. When the schedule wasn’t packed with activities, “life” wasn’t crammed in between whatever came next. For five days, my family and I did life together, slowly, and the focus wasn’t on what else can we do, the focus was on doing things together - no matter how small or mundane. Sometimes we need to remember that it is not WHAT we do, but WHO we do it with that really matters.
- Rest creates space for creativity. The time I had to rest and unplug from the noise of work was good for my soul. It’s okay to love what you do, and it’s okay to need time to rest. As the week came to end, I found myself rejuvenated and excited about the upcoming school year. (Our company works with schools to raise funding for their needs.) The time away from the daily calls, meetings, and problem-solving gave room for creativity and dreaming. Resting allowed me to fill my cup. Leading others is a privilege I do not take lightly. But you cannot pour into others if your cup is empty. This period of rest gave space for me to think of ways to serve and support them differently, to dream up ways to engage and empower them - to pour into them from a full cup rather than empty.
None of this is rocket science. We’ve all heard it before in one way or another. However, having “required time off” to learn these lessons first-hand - wow!
The last 18 months have not been easy – they’ve been draining on so many levels. These lessons, while I might have heard them before, came to life for me as my time became my own for those five days. Each of us is in a different place with the time we can find to carve out for our families and life away from work. It can be 5 days, 5 hours, or 5 minutes! Whatever it is, I encourage you to try to create space for these lessons.