We can’t always afford the time or the money to take a weeklong vacation with the family. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t utilize our time off. Historically, I always felt like I should just stock up on PTO if I’m not doing anything fun. But that’s a bad idea for two reasons: first, many companies, mine included, max out PTO and you stop accruing it if you don’t take it; second, the burnout struggle is real if you never take a day off. And what better way to use that time off than to spend a little quality time with the kids? Granted, it’s important to spend time taking care of yourself as well, but here are some unique ways you can use that PTO for some good old fashioned fun with your family, bank-breaking not included.
Category: Play (Page 1 of 2)
True story: I am the least crafty person on the planet. Okay, well, maybe not, but I definitely rank in the lower-than-average realm. I am not a creative person and spending what little free time I have doing arts and crafts does not sound appealing. Nor does the post-craft cleanup. But we can’t spend every weekend day at the park or out somewhere, and I know that a little variety is good for my kids’ development and imagination. So reluctantly, I set out in search of easy, mess-free(ish) crafts that didn’t require a trip to a hobby store and that I was least likely to screw up. In addition to meeting my high standards of clean, interesting, and using on-hand items that I didn’t need to go out and purchase, I also needed to come up with things that could entertain a four-year-old and one-year-old at the same time. It was a tall order. Read on for a few of my attempts.
If it hasn’t been established yet, I like things to be as easy as possible. It is nearly impossible for me to stop on the way to whatever event I’m going to to pick up a bouquet of flowers or a bottle of wine. And don’t even get me started on Saturday morning birthday parties. There’s zero chance I can pick up something during the week, and trying to buy a gift with a toddler and baby in tow on the way to the party is a recipe for disaster. (Seriously, taking your kids into the Target toy aisles is for sure a method of torture.) To make my life easier and to minimize the risk that I’ll be the a-hole that shows up empty handed to a party, I keep a little stock of grab-and-go gifts so I’m always prepared. Here are a few things I keep in the house so I have something for every occasion.
I’ve always been pretty outgoing. I’ve made friends relatively easily, and I have a large and diverse set of interests that makes it easy for me to connect with many different types of people. However, as a post-higher education adult, I have mentioned on many occasions how difficult it is to make new friends when you’re not forced into a college classroom, a sorority house, or a weekly Friday house party. But friendships are so essential to good mental health, so it’s important to go out there and forge new relationships. The problem with making friends as adults is that everyone’s schedules are vastly different. And when you work full-time, it’s exacerbated because you have so little free time to begin with. But it’s not impossible. I’m fortunate that my closest friends have been in my life since high school or even earlier, but I’ve made some truly awesome friendships even post-kids. Read on for a few tips for creating meaningful friendships even in the crazy life of a working parent.
A few months ago, we went on a family vacation for the first time in three years. And since then, we have had the opportunity to go on a kid-free trip to New York. So when my husband’s best friend gave us two months’ notice for his wedding in France, I figured due to time and cost, we’d be sending my husband alone. My parents had already agreed to watch the kids for our trip to New York only three weeks earlier, so I was confident that even if I could take the time off work, we wouldn’t have a plan for the kids. But my incredible parents agreed and we were able to buy my flight with frequent flyer miles, so off we went for a very quick trip to France.
I am never away from my kids. I mean, you know, except for 40-50 hours a week while I’m at work. But like, never away away. In the 16 months my son has been alive, I have literally not been away one night from him. Not one night. And my daughter just turned four. In total, I have been away from her four nights. But only one night at a time. Combine these with the fact that my husband regularly travels for work plus some travel for pleasure, and I have been totally overdue for a trip away.
It took A. LOT. for me to ask my parents to watch the kids for us while we went on vacation. My parents are helpful, but they’re busy. They have lives. My kids are little. They need a lot of supervision and attention. And to be honest, that is kind of a pain in the ass. Not only is it hard for me to ask for help in the first place, but it was torture for me to ask for someone to parent for four whole days. But I am so glad I asked. We needed this trip so badly.
Have we established yet that laziness is my mantra. Okay, let’s go with a nice euphemism: efficiency. I’m not a big drinker, and if my day/week/month has been one where I need to knock a few back, it needs to be as simple as popping off a bottle cap or a quick twist of a corkscrew. But I have had house guests that prefer a little something stronger when the clock strikes six thirty, so I’ve made a point of trying to stock a bare-bones bar. I don’t want to stock hundreds of dollars of liquor, mixers, and garnishes if they’re not going to be used. The key is to stick to a few classics that are likely to satisfy the broadest number of potential imbibers. Check out my summer cocktail bar–a minimalist bar utilizing a few key liquors and a host of things that should already be in your kitchen.
This was a very bad idea. Setting a time-consuming goal two weeks into adding blog writing on top of a full time job while parenting a toddler and baby was a bad idea. I’m not really sure what I was thinking here, other than I really wanted to catch up on the 50+ books that continued to stack up inside and on top of my nightstand. I challenged myself for the month of June to read one book per week for a total of four books.
I don’t read particularly fast, despite my parents’ investment in a speed-reading course in high school, and I know very well how little time I have outside of work, parenting, and now, blogging. And yet, I delved into my first book with high hopes. On June 13, I was 60 pages into 234 of book one. Out of four. Did I cut myself some slack and cut my goal down? Hell no. Within 2 days, I finished book one and was on to book two.
And by June 30, you bet your ass I finished All. Four. Books. Aside from learning that I can function on very little sleep even when it’s not baby related, I actually did manage to enjoy most of my reading. I tried to hit different genres for each book to push myself out of my comfort zone.
When I went back to work after I gave birth to my daughter, my husband and I were each working about 60 hours a week. We’d often eat dinner at 9:00 pm while hovered over our computers finishing off the day’s work. It was a schedule that worked for us with an infant that had no interests beyond milk and sleep.
As she got older, we wanted to put her in extracurriculars, but there were very limited options that worked with our schedules. We settled on two classes in a row on Saturday mornings, but ultimately cancelled them because too many conflicts arose with birthday parties and other obligations, and it was impossible to get make up classes on the weekend. After my daughter begged to get back into her classes, we decided to give it another shot. Here are a few tips that we’ve found helpful as we learn to juggle extracurriculars and two full-time work schedules.