What day is it? What time is it? Did I miss Sunday?
I did. I did. It’s now Tuesday, and it’s August, and we’re scraping by over here as best we can without childcare in the summer heat with two parents trying their best to work. There are a lot of children on iPads in our house right now.
Every summer, we take a break as a family and take a summer sabbatical. Typically, we take a few weeks off in August, sometimes up to a month. My husband and I have baked it into our schedules, slowly building an 11-month year into our lifestyle.
This year is a little different, of course, because 2020 has been a tidal wave of epic proportions, with wave after wave of change raining down on all of us. From the economic crash to the pandemic to the constant renegotiation of time, space, school, and life, it is seemingly never-ending. Stress is at an all-time high over here.
Still, despite everything going on, we’re going to hang onto the threads of the idea of a sabbatical and take a small step back from our crushing work demands and see if we can’t still try to slow the tempo. Sticking to a semblance of structure and routine can be stress-relieving, especially when things are chaotic.
Rest and recovery are essential, and so limited right now
I’ve written before how important rest and recovery is, and how to understand if you’re suffering from burnout. It’s so important to set a pace that you can sustain, and even during the busiest seasons a little rest can change everything. It’s important to rest and recharge from whatever your normal routine is, even if you love your job and the work you do.
For me, that means while I’m still working much of August, I’m taking a beat from podcast production and I’m slowing down our newsletters. I’m winding up interviews and whatever work can be paused between now and September is going on pause. I’ll still be teaching and running all of my virtual programs, but the podcast is going into summer mode.
A little backstory about why we take this family break
A few years ago, when we first had children, my husband talked to his workplace about parental leave. He knew that while he’d like to be home during the first few weeks during and after the birth, he was also interested in being able to be around with his kids while they grew up. So, after our first kid was born, he shifted his schedule to work from 8am to 4pm.
From there, he advocated for taking a four-week leave every summer to spend time with his kids. “What’s the point in having kids if I never see them,” he mused. He collaborated with his boss and every year, he now takes a full month away from work. The harder part? Honestly, it was getting ME on board. Today, we both try to take about a month off every summer to be with the kids and to flip our work schedules around. The built in structure of a break leaves me recharged, refreshed, and ready for the year ahead.
This is his fifth year taking a sabbatical, although this year 2020 will be a little different. We’re not doing any family vacations, and we don’t have any childcare—and we’re moving to a new house. So, basically, we’re taking two weeks off of work to schlep boxes and move houses. We’ll take what we can get.
One thing I’ve learned through publishing on a consistent basis for many years is this: You can be consistent and consistently take breaks.
In fact, breaks are essential and important for long-term wellness and stamina. In addition to the break from work, I also like to take time away from social media in an annual social media sabbatical (which I’ve experimented with each year, and written about for Harvard Business Review). Taking time away can be eye-opening and revealing. Sometimes the act of pausing something or stopping it entirely can be more revealing than if you pushed through and tried to just keep going.
Please take care of yourself, take care of the people you love, and continue to use caution as we head into the rest of the year.
I’ll see you all in September.
I write a newsletter about personal development, psychology, and leadership. Recent essays cover how to make better decisions, designing your schedule and life, rethinking the structure of work to fit a more human body, and the intersection of parenting and work. If you're curious, seeking the spark of new and interesting ideas, and want some groundedness within the flurry of modern life, you will probably enjoy my newsletter. Don't see the form below? Head here to subscribe instead.