Thursday, August 13, 2009

That Elusive Paid Vacation

It was 20 years ago next month that I took off on maternity leave from my last full-time job.

After my son was born, I confided to another mom-journalist that I was thinking about becoming a freelance writer and not returning to my job at a Los Angeles newspaper.

Her mouth dropped open in surprise. "But you ... you won't get paid vacation!" she exclaimed.

Well, two decades later I can say she was right. I still don't have paid vacation.

What I gained working from home, spending as much time as possible with my children, learning about entrepreneurship and eventually becoming a sought-after expert on small business, has more than made up for the lack of two paid weeks' leave per year. (I suppose I might have gotten up to three weeks - or maybe four by now!)

But it's true that taking time off when you're self-employed isn't easy. Unless you really want to take unpaid vacation time (which none of us can afford), you have to work extra hard planning and setting up work in advance while you're gone.

At the same time (if you're the mom), you also have to work extra hard planning and setting up your vacation reservations, itinerary and making sure everyone will be happy away from home.

The stress of all the extra work can mean that you're so wound up by the time you leave, that you wonder if it's really worth it.

But thankfully, the answer is always "yes." Just getting out of your routine, away from that ever-present home office and being with your family for a whole week is wonderful.

Here's to happy trails, low stress and August vacations! See you later this month.

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