When life gets in the way of life
Jacqueline Vance, RN
You ever have one of those weeks that kind of runs into the weekend and then runs into the next week? And while you wanted to do your personal life “stuff” your work life “stuff” just doesn't let you? How about when this happens week, after week, after week? And why do we let this happen? Whose fault is it? Did we set the standard or did society? I'm not sure.
Sometimes it's just really hard to achieve the balance we know we need to achieve. But the thing is, smelling the roses isn't just a platitude, it's essential to survival. We can't work 24/7 or we will burn ourselves out, leaving nothing left to contribute to society.
Nursing home staff can't work double shifts five days a week. We just can't! We can't work an “office” position, and bring the work home every evening and weekend and not have it adversely affect our productivity.
I mean for most of us, no one said we had to work 24/7, so to speak. The American work standard has unrealistic expectations of doing more with less, working longer and harder, and, oh, don't forget that there are a ton of people who want your job so you better not complain!
So we put ourselves in a position to prove we are indispensable or a superhero. (I am never sure which I am, but I am pretty sure there is no red “S” on my chest). Then the expectation is set. BAM! You did it this week or month so you SHOULD be able to do it again and again and again …
And did you know that the United States is notorious for giving the fewest paid vacation days to its employees? No wonder we feel like we have to work nonstop. Many countries have government-mandated paid vacation days a year.
Want to see how the United States compares? Australia: 20, Austria: 22, Belgium: 20, Canada: 10, Denmark: 25, Finland: 25, France: 30, Germany: 24, Greece: 20, Ireland: 20, Italy: 20, Italy: 20, Japan: 10, Netherlands: 20, New Zealand: 20, Norway: 25, Portugal: 22, Spain: 22, Sweden: 25, UK: 20.
The U.S.: 0. Yup, a big zero. No mandated days at all, so you are lucky if you get any.
And even then, sometimes you are looked down on when you do take off! (But that is more of a corporate mentality, I am told). We need to respect and honor whatever time off we have to really recharge the batteries.
So I am going to take a pledge to stop this bad behavior I have set for myself and take time for “life-life,” so I can for once truly enjoy my life-life, and be a better employee as a result.
We have to stop trying to be human robots and expecting the same of our employees. Otherwise, our warranties are going to expire and unfortunately, there isn't a factory full of spare parts!
Just keeping it real,
The Real Nurse Jackie is written by Jacqueline Vance, RNC, CDONA/LTC, a 2012 APEX Award of Excellence winner for Blog Writing. Vance is a real life long-term care nurse who is also the director of clinical affairs for the American Medical Directors Association. A nationally respected nurse educator and past national LTC Nurse Administrator of the Year, she also is an accomplished stand-up comedienne. She has not starred in her own national television series — yet. The opinions supplied here are her own and do not necessarily reflect those of her employer or her professional affiliates.