I’ve reached 30! Crazy thought, that. I’ve never been one for keeping a note of my age, but it’s easier to do on round numbers. This birthday, as with all of mine over the last ten years or so, I took two weeks off work.
I have always appreciated birthdays. I know some people don’t appreciate the necessity to celebrate them, while others celebrate massively at extravagant parties. I don’t like parties much, but I really do like to make the most of birthdays. And that’s why, for my family we take two weeks out of our busy schedules and focus on celebrating with each other for each others birthdays.
It seems foreign to some. Ridiculous to others. But it’s a tradition that I started just before leaving my previous job at Sainsburys. They didn’t understand it then, much like many people don’t understand it today. Both me and Becky are now self employed, so we don’t get holiday pay and as a result, it does cost to celebrate in this style. But we still see beyond the financial side of it.
But let me explain the rhyme and reason behind my madness.
There’s a hilarious illusion surrounding self-employment. That it’s a doddle, that it’s a constant holiday and that it’s living the dream. I do love being self employed, but let me be clear – it’s hard work. And while it does have its perks, it does mean that a LOT of my day revolves around work in some form or another. Being self-employed and working from home brings this atmosphere into my family life too. While enabling me to be with them (which is incredible), it also means that they see me in focus-mode a lot.
I should point out here – I have an amazingly understanding family. My wife understands that when I work, I’m doing it for the family. I’m earning to enable the life that we live. This mentality allows me to work as hard as I do when I am in work mode. But equally, in response, I need to make time for my family to show them that working isn’t the only way that I demonstrate how much they mean to me.
I can’t help but being busy, it’s what pays the bills! But I can ensure that when the office shuts, I keep away. It’s a mega challenge and one that leaves me exhausted at the end of a work day. Barely enough time or energy to play with my baby girl, walk the dog or spend quality time with my wife. So that’s where the idea stems from – regular time off from my job provides an opportunity to shed the work stress for two weeks and show my family just how much they mean to me.
Rather than a once-a-year tradition, we try to make it as regular as possible. At least at all of our birthday’s. Sometimes it can cause money problems, with lack of holiday pay, but the truth of it is simple: family trumps work every time. And if it means I have to work double-as-hard before and after my break, then so be it.
We rarely go away in our time-off, whether it be too costly or simply impractical. But that’s ok, that’s not what the break is about. It’s about spending time with my family. Resting in front of the TV together, walkimg the dog together or even doing house chores together. The key is that my birthday celebrations, along with the rest of my family’s, aren’t just about me. But I will jealously defend my time off because I know the value behind them. And I know the value of my family. Judge all you want, but that’s the way I do birthday’s.