I sat down earlier this week to plan how to take my annual leave this year. I studied the calendar and marked the dates of all the school holidays. I compared this with the number of days in my annual leave allowance at work.
Last year, I was on maternity leave. So, I was at home for the entirety of my elder daughter's first year at school. Now, having returned to work (part-time) in September, I juggle nursery, school, work and family.
Between us, my husband and I don't have enough annual leave to cover all the school holidays and teacher training days. We have been managing school holidays using a combination of holiday club, annual leave and inviting grandparents to come and stay.
Recently, I've been feeling tired. Apart from the office closure at Christmas, I've only had two days off work since September. And, when I'm not at work, I'm the primary carer for our 18mo daughter. The family weekly routine involves after-school clubs, toddler groups, school runs, nursery runs, chores, volunteering and paid work. I try to fit in my hobbies (singing and knitting), exercise and 'grown-up time' with my husband. But I feel very time-poor. I wake up tired and I go to bed tireder.
I have a long list of things I want to do for myself. Things that I need to do when the children are both out of the house, so I won't be disturbed. Things that take longer than the hour or two I can snatch during my toddler's nap. Things that need to give space and time. Things I've been putting on hold during pregnancies and periods of maternity leave.
I've been considering taking some annual leave for myself. But it feels very indulgent to think of using the time in this way. I have an in-built conscience or guilt that tells me that I if I'm not doing paid work, I should be looking after my child(ren).