We live in a society where we are told we have to hustle and work ourselves into the ground in order to be successful. Days off are for the weak. And work-life balance? It’s more about survival. Balance doesn’t exist.
We live for the weekend, rushing through our workdays, burning ourselves out to prove that we can work harder than the next person. I am guilty of this mentality. I spent the greater part of my 20s working long hours, multiple jobs, and virtually getting nowhere.
I wouldn’t sleep. I’d forget to eat, rushing from one job to another. Late nights focusing on projects that could have waited until the next morning in order to get it done ahead of time to prove I was worthy.
I stopped doing it.
My daughter would look up at me with her big blue eyes asking if I had time to play a game with her as she watched me click away on the computer, focused on something other than her.
It broke my heart, and I knew I had to change.
I now teach my daughter that mental health days are important. Even as a child. That family is invaluable, and time—you won’t ever get it back.
I work hard. Don’t get me wrong. I get my tasks done, go above and beyond, but learned over the years that risking my own health, both mentally and physically, missing my children’s school functions, forgoing date nights—none of that was worth fitting into this hustle culture.
I let my daughter take a day off. We go shopping, get our nails done, sometimes just cuddle up on the couch eating junk food and watching movies. We recharge. Spend time together, and, more importantly,
Do I get looks when I am walking Target with my daughter on a random Tuesday? Yup! People often ask if she’s home sick and I quickly reply with a “Nope! Mental Health Day!”
All I know is that after a day of rejuvenation, my daughter wakes up happier, livelier, and continues to rock at this thing called life. She gets good grades. Makes good choices and is happy.
That’s all I ever wanted when working long hours. Hustling. Was to make sure my daughter was happy. But things don’t truly matter. It’s time. Time together. Playing that game. Walking Target. That’s what matters.
Just as we struggle with finding balance as adults, children face the same. We often think they have it so easy, but navigating expectations, school, friends—it’s a lot for a child. They deserve a day off just as much as we do.
For me, thankfully I work for a company that offers unlimited PTO, two mental health days quarterly, no meeting Wednesdays and a plethora of other initiatives to ensure we don’t overwork ourselves. I hope that by the time my daughter finds her career, that focusing on mental health for employees is embedded in all workplace cultures, and not an anomaly.
But for now, I’ll continue to give her days off and enjoy the time we get to spend together.