I was recently talking to a youth worker who hadn’t had a holiday in over five years. Aside from a couple of long weekends and the forced week off between Christmas and New Years, he hadn’t had time away from work. When I probed more it turned out the he had marriage issues, spent next to no time with his children and was off the charts on stress tests; basically a self care nightmare. I asked why he was pushing himself and he said that he needed the money and that if he wasn’t there his clients would be in trouble.
If I had a dollar for every time I heard a story like this I would have a decent car brought and paid for. Recently, at the Australian Youth Affairs Conference, I was on a panel addressing self care. One of the questions I was asked was the reasons I hear for a lack of self care, really all I hear are excuses.
The main excuse I hear is that our clients need us. The fact that 100% of them were doing life fine before we got involved in their lives never enters the picture. It is like, if we weren’t there all our young people would die or end up in prison. So we run ourselves into the ground and give them sub standard service along the way.
I spoke to the youth workers manager later that afternoon, and after giving them a serve about not showing care for their staff I told her that she needed to send this guy on a forced vacation in the next month. The Director of the service did not know that there were staff in their service that hadn’t taken holidays in years. That service now has a policy that staff must take holidays every year.
You have to take holidays. Your family, career and your clients depend on you looking after yourself.