Christine A Howard

Six Great Reasons To Play Hooky From Work!

Do you remember the pure joy that could come from a snow day when you were a kid?  I remember watching the weather report during the winter months praying for a storm to come my way. If that weatherman would even hint at the possibility of no school the next day, I would go to bed so excited, dreaming of all the things I would do with my day off.  I think the teachers might have been even more eager for a snow day than we were.

Now that we are all grown up, whatever happened to those wonderfully beautiful snow days?  They seem to have faded into 50 hour work weeks, working from home on the weekend, and putting in a few hours of overtime to please the boss.  On top of all of the work commitments, there is soccer practice, ballet class, and karate to shuttle our kids to several nights per week.  According to CNN, Americans are taking less and less vacation time, and it isn’t having the results everyone had hoped. Instead, the lack of vacation is making people less productive, and hurting life outside of work.

So why not take back the snow day?  Instead of waiting until you or your kids are sick to take a day off of work, try taking a “play day” when your family is well enough to enjoy the time off?  Spend a day with your spouse and your kids, in your PJ’s doing whatever makes you happy.  You don’t have to take a whole week off from work at once to get recharged and energized.  One relaxing day every now and again can definitely do the trick.

Still need convincing?  Here are six great reasons for you to play hooky from work very soon.

Work won’t miss you when you’re gone; Your family will!

You know how they say “Rome wasn’t built in a day?”  Well neither is your work career, so if you take one day to rebuild your health and your family relationships, I promise your career can withstand it.  The trick to this play day is that you have to completely disconnect.  I mean no social media, no texting, no emails (yes, even one’s from the boss) for the entire day.  Put the phones and laptops in total lock down.  Emails will still be there, and so will all of your other tasks, but after a day of real rest, you will be better able to handle the things that await you on the job.

The goal of this day it to reconnect with your spouse and your kids, not with your devices.  Try some activities that don’t involve screens or technology.  Pinterest is full of ideas if you have trouble coming up with something fun.  You could start the day with everyone joining in to make a fun breakfast, then eating it together in bed while watching cartoons from your childhood.  Have lunch under a homemade living room tent made from blankets and furniture while telling spooky ghost stories.  Think back to the things you might have done on a snow day when you were a kid, and share them with your family.  Fun is never out of style!

Your kids need a play day too.

Today our children have so much more on their agendas than we ever did.  The pressure to succeed is ingrained in them even in elementary school.  Our youngest son came home with college planning and resume writing tools in 4th grade.  I was recently informed that our district is now sending home homework in Kindergarten!  This on top of all of the extracurricular activities most kids are involved in has sent our youth the message that to be successful, they need to be busy working.  Now I am not against keeping kids busy and out of trouble, or even against teaching them a good work ethic.  It does concern me though, the growing numbers of teens that are diagnosed with depression and anxiety today.  I have to wonder if stress is partly to blame.

As parents, we need to help teach our children how to have a healthy work : life balance.  To do this, we have to have one ourselves.  Planning a day of hooky once in awhile won’t teach our kids how to skip school, but it may help them understand that work is not the number one priority to a healthy lifestyle. Simply telling your teen to give up their phone for the day isn’t going to work if you are not setting a good image.  They need to see you taking regular breaks, and they will eventually learn by example.  It will help send the message that even while striving to do their best, they can also take time to re-energize.

Quality time with your kids is essential.

Social media has made us closer together than any other time in history!  Wrong!  Social media has given us the illusion of closeness.  Parents believe their children are safer with technology, because we now have ways of communicating with them that were not available when we were kids.  There are tracking apps that will tell you where your kids are at all times.  Snapchat can be used to prove your kids are where they say they are.  And these apps and devices give us a mock sense of security, so we can feel closer to our kids.  The trouble is, we really don’t know what is going on in our kid’s private life like we used to.  The same technologies that allow us into our kids lives like never before are also keeping us out.

The only real way to know our kids is to spend quality time with them.  A really good way to get your children’s attention in the morning is to announce that there is no school and no work for the entire day.  After they accuse you of losing your marbles, you will slowly become the coolest parents on the planet.  That is until you tell them that this is also a no technology day.  Then you will have a litany of reasons they cannot live without their phone, and you will be downgraded to the worst parents on the planet.  That is until you explain that your devices are in lock up too!  Then will come the blank stare, until they realize they are hungry and you are offering food.

Take this opportunity to reconnect with your kids.  Teens tend to open up when they are involved in a project.  There is less pressure, and it doesn’t feel as much like a lecture when they are doing a shared activity.  Use the task of making breakfast as a way to open up the lines of communication, and make it light and fun.  You might be surprised by what they are willing to share!

Reconnecting with your spouse could change your marriage.

Marriage is a tough business to be in.  And the worst part is that we only have the one customer, and we can’t always keep them happy can we! I am not sure how many of us really look at it that way, but our spouse is our customer too!  Yes, we have customers at work that we need to please to stay in business, but our number one customer is right there at home.  So why is it easier to schedule time for our work customers than it is for our most important one?  Probably because we don’t think of our spouses as customers.  But they are, and they deserve our time too.

I love the memes floating around today that show the dating relationship versus the old worn in relationship.  Every marriage gets comfortable after awhile, and that is really a good thing.  We need that one person we can truly be ourselves with, but if we are not careful, it can get too comfortable.  Polite even.  More like roommates.  And this is where the danger sets in.  Hearts tend to wander where the mind leads them to, so if we are not filling our spouses intellectually and emotionally, we are not truly meeting our customer’s needs, and just like any other customer, they may choose to go elsewhere.

If we think of our spouses as our customer, we just may find that we treat them a little bit better.  We may even discover that we can find more time for them, and that they suddenly become much more of a priority in our lives.  Take a hooky day with your spouse and send you kids to school!  Spend that day how you would have when you were newly married.  Do this every so often and see how it works to build your relationship to where it was when you first met.  I will bet that your number one customer will continue to do business with you if you are pouring into them like you do your work customers.

Your body and mind will thank you.

Women are now equal to men in one alarming area.  The number one killer of both men and women is heart disease.  Stress is a large factor for heart disease, so it only makes sense to lower stress levels as much as possible.  Taking a day to relax may be just the right medicine to do that.

Now that both spouses are working outside the home more routinely, it seems that the days of the home cooked meal may be gone.  Fast food, take out, and prepackaged foods tend to be finding their way to our dinner tables at an ever alarming rate.  While these options will get dinner on the table much faster, they don’t provide the healthy nutritional value of their long ago counterparts.  When we top that off with the lack of exercise and the often sedentary lifestyles Americans tend to live, its no wonder that obesity has become such an issue.  Taking part of a hooky day to get some healthy meals into the freezer could help reduce stress on other days too!

Your employer wants you to.

Many people believe that working more and vacationing less will help them to obtain that big promotion.  However, productivity levels are decreased among those workers that take less time off.  Employers know this, and they actually want their employees to take the vacation time they have coming to them!  Employers understand that happy employees make hard working employees.  Some employers have started programs to help encourage workers to take their time off by giving incentives when an employee takes time off, and sometimes there are even penalties for not taking vacation time.

So the next time you feel like the world is crashing in around you, take a hooky day form work!  It can be a family play day for when the whole family needs a break, or just some time for you and your spouse to reconnect.

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