Is it time for a StayCation?


Why are working parents reluctant to take any sort of holiday leave in 2020? and should they be?

Hands up if you need a holiday right now.

Ordinarily, many of us use the glorious run of public holidays between Easter and Anzac Day to take a short break, solidify our work, school and family routines and finally feel just a bit productive and in control.

As we all know, this year is different. One thing that, we at Grace Papers, have increasingly become aware of with clients, is that people are reluctant to take any sort of holiday leave in 2020 (and it’s not only because they can’t access a tropical beach to spend it on).

Why aren’t working parents taking leave right now?

  • We’re concerned about job security – we don’t want to be replaced. Even employees who are taking forced leave, are still logging in and working due to fears about job certainty.

  • We want to save our leave, incase we get made redundant and get paid out.

  • We don’t want to waste it when we can’t travel to a holiday destination.

  • With routines so out of whack, we are having a difficult time being able to tell if we actually need a break.

And yet, at the same time, reports of increased stress on families are through the roof – it’s the coronavirus curve we are absolutely not flattening.

But, just because travel has been cancelled, it shouldn’t mean rest, fun and sanity are cancelled too. So take a moment this afternoon to consider, would your mind, body and soul thank you for a staycation?

Here’s some reasons your answer might be YES.

  • You need to reduce your stress levels ASAP. At what cost are you not taking your leave?

  • You need to reset in order to rediscover your best productive self. Many of us are now at the point where we’d be better off taking a few days off in order to come back more positive, more creative and more productive with our workloads.

  • For those with school age kids, you’d feel bloody excellent knocking over two weeks of their school work in a few concentrated days. It’s been harder to live up to your world’s best parent! coffee mug lately, but this is one way to feel smug (as you sip wine out of it).

  • You’d love to spend some more time exercising and getting outdoors with the kids, especially as the restrictions start to lift.

  • Your relationship with your partner has been a little more ‘make war not love’ lately, and you’d kinda like to get your mojo back.

Reach into your flex toolkit to build breaks into your work structure

If you’re not ready to take an extended break – you may want to try more regular days off. Job flexibility is so much more than just working from home. We shared some tips a few weeks back about how you might be able to use flexible work strategies to make some more time for you.

Set yourself up for a smoother transition out

Not many of us had the luxury of planning a smooth transition into social isolation, however we now have the opportunity to plan for a better transition back to work, childcare and school.

If your home has been increasingly stressed over the last two months, then it’s likely that everyone in the house is feeling a bit on edge – and this might amplify the already set-to-be-challenging transition back to work/school/care. *cue frightening flashback of your return to work after parental leave* 

But what if you took a break now to spend some time focused on family; building their confidence, self-esteem and managing their expectations? Your future self will surely thank you.

Tried (or is it tired?) and tested:  A case study for your staycation

Grace Papers Head of Digital Coaching & Client Success, Tegan Sturrock, took a staycation last week to reset and spend some quality time with her family. We asked her about her experience and some of the key benefits for her and her household.

What did you do during your staycation? 

We are very fortunate to live near one of the few Sydney beaches that wasn’t closed, so we pulled on the wetsuits and went for a one hour boogie board each day. Connecting & making memories as I shivered in the surf was so positive for us all as a family. Bush walks, bike rides, evening walks with the kids, also became our daily rituals. Despite my complete lack of artistic ability I even joined in with the chalk art that our 11yr old spent hours doing out the front of our house. Being out there as neighbours passing by commented on her art & seeing the joy it brought them, will be great memories for us to have of lockdown.

Did it have any impact on your mental health – sleep, kids? 

I am so refreshed both mentally & physically. Putting my laptop away for the week made room for creativity, book reading and puzzles. I now have clarity in my return to work and I’ve given myself space to become comfortable with the “new normal”. And yes, whilst we might have had a few late nights watching movies, binge series etc, the quieter pace of the house allowed us all to catch up on sleep.

How did taking a break help you stay connected to your vision for lockdown and your parenting legacy? 

Taking a week off definitely highlighted the need to stop & reset – despite working out our family vision for lockdown, I felt I was at times overwhelmed with the constant demands that having a family of five brings.  As we faced our second week of school holidays, I needed to gain some control over what had been a hectic end to the school term (with three school aged kids and two parents working from home).  Our kitchen table was buried under laptops and school work and even though we had our mantra “this time will pass & our family will be stronger for it” I needed time to stop, reflect, reset & just connect with the kids. 

And…how did it support you as parents/couple to regain a sense of control? 

My staycation definitely supported and enabled a sense of control for my partner and I, both individually & together. Even though the long road ahead is looking brighter we are prepared for the “new normal” of WFH & staggered days at school in the next few week

A final note, is isn’t always easy to be this flexy, but it’s up to us all to embrace flexibility and balance now, so that we can set some solid flexpectations for a post-corona new normal that we all deserve.


CEO Prue on podcast Work Like A Motherfather discussing diversity and equality in the workplace and the basics of understanding your rights as a working parent. Login/Register for Grace Papers