Design

Four Fun Things

Portugal

When I first started working, my friend Jason told me his #1 career tip: Always take your vacation days. A new study shows that only 44 percent of working women in America used all their vacation time in 2016. But we’ve earned our time off — it’s part of our salaries, not a favor from our employers. You should never be made to feel guilty for taking all those glorious days. Bonus: Taking breaks is good for both your happiness and job performance.

How to Masturbate as a Woman

Teen Vogue just published a story about how to masturbate. After outlining different approaches, the writer points out: “You are not weird if you prefer one kind of pleasure over another. It is your body and you have total agency.” Bravo for sex education! (Here’s our past post on vibrators.)

Pairing Cheese with Cheese Crackers

For all you cheese lovers, here’s an awesome guide to pairing cheese with cheese crackers. “Cheese on cheese cracker love is real,” writes cheese writer Tia Keenan. “There’s simply no such a thing as too much cheese.” Cheese!

What Are We Eve Doing With Our Lives? book

The satirical “children’s” book What Are We Even Doing With Our Lives pokes fun of our grown-up lives these days. The animal-people text each other, binge watch TV, drink cold brew and ride Ubers around town — until the internet crashes!!! Made me laugh. :)

P.S. More fun things, and cheese makes you high.

(Portugal beach photo by Alamy, via Conde Nast Traveler. Papaya photo by Molly Cranna.)

  1. I write picture books and that one looks like a take off on Richard Scarry books, those were always my favorite to read my son. Thanks for sharing that book and link.

  2. As an RN who teaches sex education classes at times to our local school populations and working with adolescents- I loved seeing this Teen Vogue masterbation article! So often there is deep embarrassment from the girls on even naming body parts within the vulva& looking at anatomical drawings let alone talking about touching them. I try to have matter of fact discussions about how knowing you anatomy is healthy and helpful. Having an ownership and understanding of ones desires can (and I think will) later lead to better sexual satisfaction within a relationship. Bottom line for me is there is no shame in our vaginas – they are the root of our womanly power and the more girls that hear that and can internalize it the better. So go forth and love yourself ladies!

  3. I always use my vacation days and never felt guilty about it. I work best when I have time off every other month or so to decompress, even just for a long three day weekend at the beach. It is hard though to not only overcome your personal feelings of guilt, but to overcome the sometimes negative perception you get from others in the office when you take time off. I know that my mom hardly uses her vacation days and ends up cashing the majority of them in at the end of the year. If she takes the vacation days people start to wonder if she’s okay (she is older) and think that she can’t “handle” her job which is just completely not true. I don’t think it’s worth it to work 24/7 and then get burned out and have to use your vacation days because you have made yourself sick, you know? I think until we can get over this mentality of praising people who “get no sleep” or “work all night” we aren’t going to embrace the need for vacation days.

    • Samantha says...

      YES!!!! Why do we praise people who don’t take good care of themselves, physically and mentally?

  4. I have to disagree about the masturbation article. I think sex should be exclusively enjoyed being two married lovers, male and female. It’s my Bible-based belief, so I can understand non-Bible-adhering folks to disagree, but I also don’t think that all children/teens should be taught that masturbation is okay, when it is not clearly defined for some religions. Sexual education for kids, in general, however, is a great thing.

    • KS says...

      Agree with you but not for the same reason. I don’t care about any religious or moral reasons but coz I firmly believe that masturbation is kind of self-gratification like porn and will definitely affect kids ability to form a healthy sexual relationship with their partners in future. It is a serious issue emotionally and can make them make impaired decisions in relation to commitments and relationships.

    • Kelly M. says...

      I’m sorry to say but that is a very traditional way of looking at the world that people are veering further and further away from. Looking at sex as only between a man and a woman is a very restrictive idea. Masturbation is healthy. Self-love (in not just a masturbation way) is incredibly important and forming a strong sense of independence and self. We can’t just find gratification from others or we will never be happy. That being said, “man is not an island entire of itself” and marriage can be awesome. Well wishes…

  5. Jess says...

    I’m an American living and working in Japan and am absolutely shocked at how many hours of unpaid overtime my coworkers put in everyday. It’s common to see people working more than 12 hours a day, and the 20 days of vacation they allow us is almost laughable. As an American, I kind of get a pass for when I use PTO and nobody looks at me strangely for it, but I’ve definitely come to realize how valuable it is for physical and mental health to use the time your company allows you to recharge!

  6. Kirsten says...

    Ha! I was just scrolling through this on my lunch break at work and a coworker stopped at my desk right as I got to the teen vogue article bit, and says “Oh! i LOVE papayas!! What’s that!?”

    I am a city employee who gets 15 days off, 11 holidays, 12 days of sick leave and 4 days of bereavement leave all paid. Not too shabby for a public servant, but still pales in comparison to other countries. Our vacation time does not rollover after 18 months, so people DEFINITELY use it. We also have the option of accruing more vacation time if we work overtime. Unfortunately though, our family leave is only 12 weeks unpaid, so you see a lot of expectant parents saving up paid leave and trying to cram in overtime before the baby comes to help with that.

  7. Wuselbibi says...

    Wow. I didn’t know about the vacation days. Living in Germany, you get a certain minimum of paid leave per anno. Plus sick days, which normally you have to get a doctor’s certificate of illness. Should you happen to get seriously ill, you’ll be protected from getting fired by law.
    We also get fully paid maternity leave, which begins 6 weeks before due date, ends 8 weeks after delivery and is covered partly from health insurance and employer.

    The US health care system makes me shake my head. Hard to believe you’re one of the world’s leaders but there’s no law helping people live a life without constant fear of illness.

    Btw, my son had a serious illness when not yet 5 years old. It had him in intensive care for 3 weeks, in rehabilitation for another 6 weeks and in ambulant ergo- and physiotherapy ever since. He is 6.5 years now and we’d be absolutely broke, had we had to pay everything by ourselves. And we are, thank god, living a real good life with an income above average. Even so, we’d be ruined by now. So.
    Shaking my head again because of no public health insurance in the US. The insecuritiy you must feel makes my skin tingle, I hope for everyone that somehow sometime (soon) common sense will win gloriously!

  8. Alyssa says...

    My boss and I were actually just talking about vacation days the other day. We’re very lucky to get 20 per fiscal year. In my past job I received 10 and they were kinda weird about you taking them.
    My current boss is very serious about making sure you never lose your vacation days at the end of the year. She emphasizes that we should take it all. I really appreciate that from a boss and totally agree with your statement. Taking breaks is so important. Often times, because we’re in a place where taking actual vacations isn’t very practical, I take a lot of days off where I just am at home…and it’s WONDERFUL.

    I am sad for everyone posting here who isn’t allowed more vacation time. We really do need mental and physically rest without the stress of not being paid.

  9. Kali says...

    Being late to the Mad Men tidal wave, my husband and I just watched the episode where Sally, (Don’s daughter) gets caught masterbating and everyone’s reactions to it. I just kept feeling so sad and sorry for this poor (fictional) repressed girl! It’s so refreshing to see how far we’ve come!

  10. L says...

    I’m lucky to get a lot more time off than many people in the US because I work for a small company that my bosses started in large part so they could have more flexibility and time with their families. We close for federal holidays and between Christmas and New Years, so everyone gets at least a week during the winter holidays without having to use up vacation days. Everyone accrues either 1 or 1.5 days off a month (depending on how long they’ve been at the company) and those are strictly vacation days. Things like sick days, kid’s sick days, jury duty, bereavement, etc. are essentially unlimited, within reason (and using short . Since a lot of our work can be done remotely, it works well to let people take time off whenever they need as long as they are getting things done as they can. No one will give you a hard time and you don’t have to stress about falling behind at work because your kid had the flu for 4 days if you bring your laptop home with you and work while they nap or watch a movie.

  11. Jamie says...

    Re: the PTO. I used to be really bad about taking it, and got really burnt out. But then again at my job it was “necessary” for me to be there because there was often no one able to fill in for me, and we were always on strict deadlines. I still like to have some saved up, in case I need to call off unexpectedly (sick, bad weather preventing me from getting to work) because then my manager won’t care, and I know I always have it available. But I have started taking more days off. I figured out that if every couple months I take a Monday and Tuesday off, barely anyone notices, and I get a four day weekend. I used to try to take a week off at a time about once a year, but that’s more stressful because it has to be planned for more (and it was always difficult to figure out what week I won’t be missed). Now I get a mini vacation many times a year. Doesn’t work so well if you’re trying to travel on your vacation, but I’m mainly a staycation person so it works perfectly.

  12. Heather says...

    Yes to Teen Vogue! I have really loved everything COJ has linked to/talked about regarding sex positivity/body positivity. Lately I’ve been really baffled about how to talk to my toddlers (son is 4, daughters are 2) about why it’s not OK for them to touch each others’ private areas. They’re always running around the house naked – which is cute – but also touching each other and laughing hysterically, which makes my husband and I cringe and try to remind them about keeping their privates private and respecting other people’s bodies… I don’t want to shame them about sex, but I want to establish some clear boundaries as well. I obviously can’t google this. Does anyone have any good advice?

    • Kali says...

      Joanna’s past post about kids being the boss of their own bodies would fit well here I think.

    • jen says...

      my daughter is 4 and loves the book we got her for Christmas: “Amazing You” — it gives a preschool level explanation of genitalia and reproduction but also talks about masturbation and keeping things private. It’s a great introduction!

    • Heather says...

      Jen – Great book recommendation! I will definitely check that out. I have to say that the one star reviews for that book are kind of blowing my mind. I suppose this is why so many people are opposed to sex ed??!

  13. Yes to the PTO!!! I get a pretty good amount of time off both vacation and sick and I use every single bit of it. My mom asked me if I was okay taking so much time off (after returning from maternity leave I was taking off about once a week or so)… I told her they wouldn’t give it to us if they didn’t want us to use it. Take the time for yourself and you will feel so much more relaxed and energized when returning to work.

  14. Eva says...

    The Teen Vogue article is great – except for the fact that the author keeps referring to the vulva as the vagina (!). Your clitoris is NOT part of your vagina! I have to say I find that a bit ironic considering that the author states that “Sex education in the U.S. (and across the globe, TBH) is kind of a disaster. Only 13 states mandate that students be taught sex ed that is medically accurate”. Shouldn’t a “sex writer and educator ” know this?

  15. I read that stat on vacation days recently and it made me so sad. People really do seem to view vacation days as a favor rather than something they’ve earned and that’s a shame. I think American work culture is so terrifying sometimes.

    Briana | youngsophisticate.com

  16. Caroline says...

    PTO has always been such an interesting thing for me (I live in the US). I was in sales for the last 4 years, trying to achieve monthly sales goals, while also trying to figure out how to take time off. At my last organization we had “unlimited PTO” but couldn’t take off end of month, end of quarter, end of year, and goals were in no way adjusted should you be out for a period of time. So while you can be out, you live in stress all the time because it’s impossible to hit your goals while being out for more than 2 days, and that means less commission, and also risk of getting fired should it majorly impact your overall yearly standing.

    I’ve since moved into a management position at a new company, working with mostly fresh college grads and I make it very clear that they should feel empowered to use their PTO and not feel guilty! My directors use their time so if you set a good example from the top down, everyone in the organization will feel ok doing the same. As of last week, my organization finally adjusted the parental leave policy – 3 months paid leave for both mothers and fathers, which compared to many countries is nothing, but I’m pretty sure it used to be half that and no leave for fathers!

  17. Claire says...

    As an organizational psychologist who studies recovery from work stress, I love the tip to use vacation days! I would also add that according to the research, what’s more important than just taking a vacation is how you use it. Psychologically detaching from work is so crucial: if you spend the whole time thinking about work or answering emails, it’s not going to be effective. Vacations and work breaks that let you psychologically detach, feel a sense of control, master a new skill, and straight up relax are the best for your health. It may be hard, but really letting yourself enjoy the vacation will actually make you more productive when you get back to work!

  18. Maranda says...

    I see the hesitation to use PTO where I work all the time (I live in the US) and I absolutely don’t understand it. I work in HR and I recently had an employee approach me about taking time off- he explained that he had the time but he was hesitant to leave the office for so long, even though he felt confident his team would be okay without him. I explained that his time off is his to use and that he shouldn’t feel guilty- it’s a part of his salary after all! I’m glad I spoke with him because he stopped by to thank me for taking the time to talk to him, he’s been feeling really burnt out lately and he thinks some time away will really help him.

  19. As someone who get exactly ZERO paid days off at my current job, I heartily agree that if you’re lucky enough to get paid vacation days, take them! Take them for me!

  20. As a doctor in a busy ER, it is almost impossible for me to take vacation days without feeling horribly guilty. Maybe i’ll print that study secretly and paper the hospital one day. Thanks for sharing!

  21. Lauren E. says...

    I need those blue cheese crackers in my life!

    Also, re: vacation time: my job is not great for a lot of reasons (they do not offer healthcare for employees’ families, I get the bare minimum of maternity leave, a “boys’ club” culture, etc) but they are incredibly lax about vacation time and I take full advantage. I got married last year and probably took a total of 30 days off between bachelorette weekend, shower weekend, the actual wedding plus honeymoon. No one said boo. It was glorious.

  22. Alice says...

    I am always constantly baffled by the lack of vacation days (annual leave) those in the states get! I’m British and work in Higher Education in London. I get 30 days of annual leave per year, plus 8 bank holidays and 6 closure days- four at Christmas, and two at Easter (in addition to the bank holidays on Good Friday/ Easter Monday). This gives me a total of 44 days out of the office each year, and you’d better believe I take- and enjoy- every single one of those days! While my annual leave entitlement is higher than many people I know, but no one, at all, feels guilty about taking their annual leave in the UK. Taking time off work is normal and expected, and it DEFINITELY helps make people more productive!

    Oh, and my work give nine months of paid parental leave, too. And while you’re on parental leave, you still accrue your annual leave too!

    Anyway, as I said- I’m horrified by the lack of personal time afforded to workers in the states!

    • Lisa says...

      Yes yes yes. I have a friend who was working in NY for a British company (he’s British) and all the staff got UK levels of holiday, around 25 days a year. He said they were continually mystified as to how they’re going to use up “all this leave”. On the French extreme – my cousin in law gets around 60 days off a year (I wish!)

    • Vee says...

      This feels like how it should be! I think we sometimes forget that a 40 (or 40+) hour work week was created. It’s not a natural part of being a human. I usually have work and class 40hrs a week but have had time off work lately because my employers are away. I have been playing instruments, gardening, spending time with friends, making art, riding my bike and running, plus taking my school courses, and it’s like the most magnificent weight has been lifted. I’m really enjoying having enough time and energy to pursue these new things.

    • Lisa says...

      I’m not sure if this is the same everywhere, but when I was on maternity leave I also accrued bank (public) holidays. My employer also offers “emergency parental leave”, which I used a lot when I went back to work and my son was constantly catching viruses. They also pay for a certain amount of emergency childcare which was a HUGE help.

      I’ve had to condense my hours somewhat when going back (to be able to do drop off and collection), and I prefer it. When I was able to stay late I found I faffed around more during the day and was less productive (on longer hours). When I started out on my career, my cousin’s husband (who was very senior in his role at the time) said that if he saw people working very long hours, it indicated a problem – either the workload was too high and not being dealt with effectively, or the people aren’t managing their time effectively. That always stuck with me

  23. Time off from work is so important. Competitive over-working is not healthy, at all. In Australia, where I grew up and began my career, all workers get a minimum of 4 weeks paid vacation annually. I don’t know how Americans survive with so little time off!

  24. CC says...

    So nice to see “Portugal” featured on your post!
    I’m a huge fan of your blog :)
    Thanks!

  25. Sian says...

    Another UK reader horrified by people not being/feeling able to take their annual leave… Ours tends to run out within 12 months so can’t be banked (and we’re entitled to 12 months maternity leave anyway). I can’t imagine not having the occasional week off from my job!!

    • Laura says...

      12 months!? That sounds like a dream come true. I’m not even pregnant yet and I’m already dreading going back to work 6 weeks postpartum.

  26. Sam says...

    As a UK citizen, it breaks my heart to hear how awful US annual and parental leave is. My husband is American and this is the main reason holding us back from moving back to the US. I don’t know how I could ever give up my 28 days annual leave.
    We recently had a baby and through my employer, I was entitled to a years maternity leave where 16 weeks was paid at my full salary, 21 weeks at the government statutory pay and the remaining weeks unpaid. It’s so crucial for parents to have those early weeks and months to bond with their child, not to mention who can actually focus and be a useful employee when they are that sleep deprived :)
    Sx

  27. Annelies says...

    I knew in the USA you don’t have a lot of holidays but I never knew so nany people can’t use their days and have to save them for later! It blows my mind and it so unfair. You should be able to take a break once and a while to keep you sane. I need it and luckily I live in Belgiul where I have to take my days off before the end of the year. We also get paid maternity leave, paid leave for grief, marriage or taking care of a sick or elderly person. This is a right we all should have as this is human.

    • Annelies says...

      Belgium…

    • Paid leave for grief would be so wonderful! My husband’s father passed away after a quick, but brutal experience with brain cancer. My husband was traveling back and forth between our home in Texas and his father’s home in Illinois and the treatment center in St. Louis while also trying to help care for our toddler and infant at home. He missed a lot of work during that time, and actually ended up taking a brief leave of absence after his dad passed, but it was unpaid, and not welcome by his company (they granted it only when he told them he was going to quit because he needed some time). That time was so critical to him though. Otherwise he wouldn’t have had a chance to grieve at all.

    • KS says...

      LOL if there are any Libertarians reading these posts regarding paid maternity and grief leaves they will be stabbing themselves. And of course many Republicans too, not all, I don’t.

  28. Jules says...

    I work at a start-up tech company and have unlimited vacation days but feel bad about taking time off. My previous job granted me about 35 days off a year and I used all of them, but now it feels like uncharted territory. I work a lot harder at the new job too so I need those days off. Hopefully I’ll find a balance soon or burn-out will win.

  29. Emily says...

    Can we just stop comparing female genitals to fruit already? I am so sick of that trend, and it’s all over Instagram – my body is not something to be consumed.

    • Heather says...

      Ah, to each his own. As a fan of Georgia O’Keefe and that beautiful scene in “Their Eyes Were Watching God” where she stares up at the bees going in and out of the pear blossoms, I think comparing female anatomy to fruit and flowers is beautiful.

    • Erin says...

      I agree, Heather. I find the connection fascinating!

  30. I love the sass in the children’s book. It’s great to be able to joke about ourselves every once in a while, keeps us humble. XD

  31. Bec says...

    As an Australian, the American approach to taking leave baffles me. I know in a lot of cases people aren’t offered adequate leave, but so often people don’t take the leave they’re entitled to! It’s madness.
    At my workplace we get 4 weeks of annual leave, plus 5 days sick leave (no doctors certificate), extra sick leave with a doctors certificate, one rostered day off a month, bereavement leave and carers leave. This is common. You better believe I take every day of my annual leave and rostered days off!
    My partner and I quit our jobs two years ago (after saving up) to travel for a year and a half. The Americans we met on the road couldn’t believe what we’d done. But a ‘gap year’ is common for Aussies and Brits.

  32. Michelle says...

    I’m always amazed when people talk about their PTO and vacation and paid sick days. I’m a speech-language pathologist, conveniently exempt from NYC’s Paid Sick Leave laws, and the nature of the types of positions available in the city leave the majority of us in employers that do not offer us the privilege of vacation or PTO or paid maternity leave. I have had this job in various settings (pre-k, charter school, public/private schools, outpatient rehab clinics, private practice) for 6 years now and have never had a vacation because I literally cannot afford to take more than three days off of work.

    tl;dr if you’re blessed enough to have PTO or vacation or paid sick days, USE THEM. You don’t know how frustrating it is to be someone without that luxury to see people complain about not having enough and that they go to waste.

    • L says...

      I think part of the problem is people feel like they shouldn’t take vacation days and they go to waste, but part of the problem is that in a lot of companies people really can’t take the vacation days they get. Well, technically they can but then they are passed over for promotions, first to get laid off if the company isn’t doing well, or fired (with some other excuse) and replaced by someone who doesn’t take vacation days. If your job is at will and no one else in your company takes vacation days, it’s not always so easy to get what you are entitled to.

  33. Meg says...

    Teen Vogue has been KILLING IT lately. <3

  34. Claire says...

    The fact that paid parental/family leave is not federal law is probably responsible for a lot of women (and men) not using all their days – I’d love to take my vacation days but I also hope to have kids. As a federal employee, I have no paid parental leave (meaning no maternity leave) and have to hoard my days instead so I can cobble together, through annual leave and sick days, a few months of leave. And I’m lucky in that I have annual and sick leave – a lot of people aren’t as lucky.

    • Caitlyn says...

      THIS times a thousand. I have barely taken sick/vacation time in the five years I’ve been at my job to save up for parental leave… because my institution offers paid leave for faculty, but not staff. I seriously question every day I take off against the potential of not having that day with a new baby.

    • Sasha says...

      Because birthing and caring for a baby is exactly the same as a vacation. Sigh. This just makes me sad. And angry.
      I work as a nanny (in the US), and I do have paid holidays is they fall in a day I normally work, which is not usual and I consider wonderful of my employers. But not a single day of vacation or sick leave. Ever. You can guess how often I work sick. Day off means no money, simple as that.
      My husband works at a university and he has vacation, sick, personal days (& health insurance & retirement of course, which I also lack). He hoards sick days, just in case, but uses vacation days…..it makes his job bearable.

    • Veronica says...

      This is so true. My sister and I both work for a company that offers FMLA unpaid leave, but only AFTER an employee uses all of their personal and sick leave. My sister is currently on leave, and she will be getting paid for maybe a third of it based on the time we was able to bank. Watching her go through this has made me determined to leave this company before starting a family.

    • Heather says...

      This is so true. And even harder when you go from one kid to two, as you may have possibly had years of saving up leave for your first kid, but between the first and second you save no leave because your kid gets sick all the time, etc.. Almost all of my second maternity leave was unpaid.

  35. Anna Kleinfeld says...

    Love these!! Go teen vogue!!

  36. Annie says...

    The best advice I ever got as a teenager (from Oprah, naturally) was to learn how to masturbate so that I would not associate sexual pleasure exclusively with a partner. It liberated me at an early age from ever compromising when it came to choosing romantic partners, because I didn’t technically *need* them to enjoy sex, but rather I could choose romantic partners because I *wanted* to. It has given me complete confidence and joy as an adult — both when I’ve been single and when I’ve been in relationships. I recommend any moms give their daughters the resources they need to be self-reliant when it comes to sexual pleasure!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      that’s amazing, annie!

  37. Vancouver reader says...

    the US is unique in its view of vacations for employees. People come back refreshed & do a better job so it’s really a good investment. We’re lucky in Canada to both have paid vacation time & maternity leave. Can’t imagine how people get by without it.

  38. Totally agree with the fact that vacation days are vital! It’s so easy to get burnt out if not. Love that you highlighted this in a post!

    xx, mel

  39. Teen Vogue really is doing great journalism, especially regarding important issues like racism, sexism, and intersectionality. (See what happens when the editor is a woman of color? ;) )

    • shanze says...

      i agree that the current editor is doing great work but (as a WOC myself) I object to the idea that her color is what makes her good at it- she, as an individual, is good at her job. Its a great achievement since its probable she had extra hurdles to cross to achieve success but there are plenty of amazing women who are of the dominant euro-american culture doing great stuff too, e.g.. this blog. Everyone brings their own experiences to the table and all experience is of value.

  40. Meredith says...

    Each January 1st, my company front loads 22 days off per year in addition to 8 holidays. If you work there longer than 5 years, the amount of days increase. We do not accrue more time off throughout the year. We have to use all 22 days before the end of the year and no time off carries over. I really love this policy because EVERYONE uses their time off!! The managers encourage it! They don’t want us wasting our days. It’s amazing. At my last job, I was cheating myself by not taking much time off because it carried over, but there was no reason for me to be saving it!

    • Brianna says...

      I earn two days of annual leave and two days of sick leave per month, plus 11 holidays per year. I just had to use four sick days to attend my grandfather’s funeral (I’m not complaining), but I do genuinely wonder why companies don’t offer actual bereavement leave. I suppose some companies do, but I work for a state institution that does not.

      I don’t use my annual leave and rarely use my sick leave, so I’ll eventually get paid out for it when I separate from the company.

  41. L says...

    i only get 3 vacation/sick days per year (but the option of getting more non paid days), so it’s not that i don’t want to take vacation, but can’t. :/

    • Amanda says...

      Likewise. I am an emergency/trauma registered nurse and literally spend my days saving lives… And I am only allowed 3 days per year for sick/vacation. Any PTO accrued must be used for sick calls as well. I always tell my children to *not* follow in my career footsteps haha!

  42. Roberta says...

    As a reader from the UK, I find it pretty incredible that “taking your vacation days” is a career tip…your holiday allowance forms part of your salary! If you don’t take them (and your firm doesn’t pay you for them in lieu), it’s like you’re refunding part of your salary to your employer. Madness! Definitely one of the reasons why I’d not move to a US firm (I’m a lawyer). And as for “paying” for your maternity leave by saving up holidays…simply a barbaric idea. America is certainly not a world leader in this respect!

    • Emma Bee says...

      You are absolutely correct, the US is far from a world leader for many health/wellness related issues and no way are we going to make any progress over the next 4 years. It’s really disheartening.

    • Meg says...

      The problem is that there is a culture in some US offices that people who take all of their vacation days are lazy or not good employees. It’s really stupid but it’s a reality! I worked somewhere where my boss used to gloat that he hadn’t taken a vacation in a decade. I took my vacation days (or almost all of them) but definitely had some guilt about it because most people didn’t, and I had to be strategic about requesting my days and not making a fuss about my trips because I didn’t want to draw attention. It’s terrible!

    • Katharina says...

      As a reader from Germany I can only agree with Roberta. Here – as far as I know and by my own experience – the employer reminds you to please take your vacation days if you haven’t planned them already.
      You can save up some but if it gets too much the employer will probably say something.

  43. How people could not take their vacation days is so crazy to me! I work from home and my flexible schedule is SO important to me. I don’t know what I would do without the ability to travel a few times a year – it would feel like I was living for someone else. I wish I could free people from their corporate chains! We need to take some tips from France and Italy where they get this right.

    http://www.shessobright.com

  44. ellen says...

    re: vacation time. At many workplaces, you have to use saved up sick/vacation time to pay for leaves (like parental leave). We’re planning to have a kid, so for the past 3 years at my job I’ve been avoiding using my time and banking as much as I can to cover a 12 week leave later this year.

    My strong hunch is many people do this, especially women, which is why America ranks so low in employees using their PTO. We don’t have paid parental leave, so we have to save it! If I used it all every year, I’d go completely unpaid while on maternity leave.

    It’s the worst. I still don’t even have enough to cover the whole leave.

    • Jenny says...

      Yes! I’ve worked for over 10 years for a medical company that has profits in the billions. When I had my son last year I got 5-weeks of paid maternity leave. Then exhausted all my vacation time and took several unpaid weeks to take a 16-week leave. So now I’m very cautious about using my vacation days as I want to save them for sick days for my son and also start stocking them back up in case we have another child in a couple years. It’s unfortunate having a child can be so expensive from so many different angles.

    • Andrea says...

      That’s exactly right. I recently changed jobs and left seven weeks of sick leave on the table – I had saved it up over four years just in case I needed to take maternity leave. I do take all of my “use or lose” vacation time by the end of the year, though (the amount of sick time you could carry over each year was higher than the amount of vacation time).

    • Becca says...

      And masturbation! ??