Being Un-American on Memorial Day Weekend Is Good for You

memorial day may 30Memorial Day is fast approaching, and along with it comes a highly anticipated three-day weekend. I don't know about you, but on Monday, May 30, I plan on sitting on the beach and spending the day doing absolutely nothing.

It's not often that I get to say that. And the truth of it all is that I'm not alone. On Memorial Day weekend, it's almost assumed that everyone takes a little time off. But the rest of the year? Not so much. On average, the typical American worker gets three weeks paid vacation time, and only 57 percent of us actually use up all the days we're entitled to. Compare that number to the whopping 89 percent vacation time workers use in France, and that's just absurd! I know Monday's already a national holiday, but I'm taking it upon myself to also declare it the beginning of a national EMERGENCY.


It's time to face the facts: We're being way too hard on ourselves. When was the last time you took some time away from the office? No, I'm not talking about the time you had to call out when you forgot your kids were off from school, or the day of your last dentist appointment. I'm talking a day or two (or five!) when you took off, with nothing to do except fly by the seat of your pants. Yeah, I can't really remember, either.

I'm sure you're a little like me. It's not that you don't enjoy time off. You love it. But like the other 57 percent of Americans, it's scary to unplug completely. Personally, I worry about the "what ifs." What if I get an important message that needs to be handled immediately? What if I need this time at a later date?

The truth is, we need the time now, and next month, and the month after that. Luckily for us, Memorial Day is on the immediate horizon. And when you bite into that hamburger and take a sip of your favorite white wine Monday afternoon, I encourage you to savor the feeling of calm you have, and remember that feeling come July when you're contemplating taking a bit of time for yourself. Considering vacation time promotes creativity, staves off burnout, and aids in our overall well-being, it's just silly to work yourself to the bone.

Of course, that means take the time, fully. Sure, a getaway with the family is nice. And I understand the whole "being without my phone feels like I'm missing my right arm" explanation. But a vacation is best when you are fully there, participating. If it's not absolutely urgent (i.e. someone's in the hospital or your office is on fire), put down the BlackBerry. Sleep your iPhone. If you haven't noticed, being on your phone is a symbol to those around you that you are uninvolved or uninterested. And hostility doesn't add to that whole good karma/feeling of calm we're aiming for here.

We are entitled to relax. As employees. As women. And for many of you, as mothers. Happy Memorial Day, everyone!

How will you be celebrating this weekend? Do you take the time off you deserve?

Image via Sister72/Flickr

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