Taking time off to recharge is beneficial to your own spirit, creativity and relationships — but when you're programmed for an always-on-the-go life, shutting down is harder than it sounds. In this issue of Working Mom 3.0, writer Stephanie Taylor Christensen explains why you can and should allow yourself to take a real break from it all.
In packing for a recent girls' trip to Florida for a friend's wedding, I actually pondered packing my laptop. After all, I’m accustomed to waking earlier than most, and traveling by air without a child actually equates to downtime. As a self-employed working mom, my vacations come with a literal cost: time away from work is time I can’t bill.
Interestingly, I spent my trip with two other work-at-home moms to two small kids: one owns a fitness studio, and the other is a part-time accountant. Theoretically, we all have some degree of power over when and how much we work, yet our first afternoon spent basking in the sunshine next to our private pool included a constant background “ping” alerting us to new iPhone messages. Though we were still able to have a great conversation (we are, after all, expert multitaskers), I couldn’t help but notice that although we are certainly most deserving of uninterrupted time off, we’ve not only lost the ability to just do nothing — we opt to keep going!
Whether it's a result of the fact that we are so programmed as work-at-home moms never to let a ball drop, or we're motivated by money or the pursuit of success, not letting up is the surest way to let yourself — and those who rely on you — down. Here are three proven reasons why you deserve a real, uninterrupted, technology-free vacation. The next time work-at-home-mom guilt sets in and you feel bad for powering down, review the research and remind yourself that you can't argue with science!
According to a study published in the Wisconsin Medical Journal, workers who do not take vacations are more likely to stay up at night worrying, to eat and work at the same time, and to eat a less healthy diet than those who take the time slow down and rejuvenate with a vacation.
The study cited above also tested populations of women who took vacations once or twice a year, compared to those who vacationed once every two to five years, and once every six years. It revealed that the odds of being depressed increased as vacation frequency decreased. The more frequent vacationers also reported being more satisfied in their marriages.
A study called Creativity in the Wild: Improving Creative Reasoning through Immersion in Natural Settings tested a group of participants for creative thinking and problem solving before and after a four-day backpacking trip. The backpackers scored 50 percent better on a creativity test after four days in nature and away from smartphones, iPods and laptops. "The constant bombardment of technology and urban life is draining the frontal portion of the brain, suppressing problem solving, decision making and creativity," explained researcher David Strayer.
The modern woman is redefining what it means to have a successful career. Rather than feeling torn between climbing the corporate ladder and having a happy family life, many women are choosing to merge the two and transition their careers from a traditional role to a more flexible one. Working Mom 3.0 is reinventing the definition of "working mom," as office hours are held at home and revolve around nap times.
This column begins by chronicling the experiences of Stephanie Taylor Christensen, a former marketing professional turned self-employed stay-at-home mom, writer and yoga instructor, as she strives to redefine "having it all" on her own time and terms.
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