What Is Family Worth To You?

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With my parents moving quite a distance away, the issue of getting down to visit them has been on my mind a lot lately. The drive is 12 hours long, and I wouldn’t feel comfortable making it all by myself. I don’t think I could make it in one trip either, so I’d have to stop at a hotel for the night, which would add to the expense. It therefore makes more sense to fly, and booking this far in advance saves me some money. A round-trip flight looks to be around $210, which is cheap considering I will get a free place to stay and free meals.

I have to give two months notice to my job before I take any vacation, which kind of sucks because my parents weren’t aware of when they would close on the house until yesterday, so I had no way of giving them advance notice to help them move. Thus, I plan on (hopefully) being able to take off around Labor Day, so I can use one less vacation day.

Beach

My Vacation Predicament

My job is not very lenient with days off – in our industry being available is important. Before, this wasn’t an issue – I actually haven’t taken a full day off since I started working. I feel too guilty about it, and everyone in my office works very hard. As an example, my coworker had to take her father to the hospital a few weeks ago, and was SO distraught when telling me that I had to tell her to stop being ridiculous. When she should be worried about her father’s condition, she is fretting about when she can get into work. I don’t think I would go that far – if one of my parents was in the hospital I’d be too busy having an anxiety attack. My coworker is obviously not someone who takes advantage of time off, but she has had some troubles recently that has led her to miss more work than she would like. I can’t even bring myself to call my bosses to tell them I might be late! It’s horrible, and as a result I’m getting a little burnt out. I would love a day to just relax, or a proper vacation with a week full of no worries!

So I only get five days for vacation at the moment. Since the end of the year is near I don’t have any qualms with using them all toward visiting my parents. R doesn’t have any vacation time yet since he only started his new job in April, so at least I don’t have to consider someone else in my plans. My parents will be living near a hot vacation spot in the US, so if I feel the urge to be touristy it’s not difficult. However, next year, this will be quite a dilemma. R will have vacation time and understandably using that to see my parents wouldn’t be amazing. Neither of us have taken an actual vacation together, and I’d love to go out of the country! But, if I only get one week long vacation a year, I have to choose between tropical beaches and my parents.

Beach

What Options Do I Have?

My parents can come up and visit us at any time, which they will, but I would rather be able to dedicate all my time to seeing them instead of coming home from work and having dinner with them. Then there is the option of a joint-vacation where we can all go to the tropics together, but my dad isn’t really a beach person. I don’t like having to choose! I can’t place a value on family time, especially since my parents aren’t getting any younger. I can only hope our plans will work out and we will be able to live closer to them so that weekend trips are possible, but as it stands, this will be the predicament I am placed in next year.

Vacation time, or even flexibility, is one reason why I would love to be able to work from anywhere! I can do a portion of my job online, but the other part requires having physical copies of documents. I wish I could take a guilt-free vacation, but I know what I went through when my coworker took her vacation a few months ago – being down one person really hurts our small office. However, I would really regret putting my work before my family if anything happened. Ideally, in the future, I’d love to get a job with more flexibility. It’s interesting that while vacation time wasn’t a priority for me a year ago, now it is! As circumstances change, sometimes values change.

Palm Trees

Taking It All Into Consideration

Everyone’s family situation is different, and it makes me feel like I’m being a little dramatic about the whole thing. R isn’t phased at all by moving away from his mom – they don’t have the best of relationships, and he went away to college and enjoyed his time apart from her. I really do place an emphasis on my parents and my grandma – they mean a lot to me, and I make as much time as possible to see them. They’ve done a tremendous amount for me over the years and it’s my turn to give back. Even if a flight cost a ridiculous amount I think I would suck it up, save for it and pay for it. At the end of the day, I know I’ll be happier putting my family high on the priority list. I just don’t think you can put a price on such things, so there is really no “saving” here, except on the price of a plane ticket. At least there is Skype!

Does anyone else visit family during the year? How do you make arrangements? How important is it for you to see family?

Erin is a total goofball who sucks at writing about herself (though she finds referring to herself in the third person amusing). When she's not editing videos, she can be found messing around in Photoshop, laughing at her cats, watching YouTube videos, playing video games, chair dancing, sipping coffee, or any random combination of the above.

31 thoughts on “What Is Family Worth To You?

  1. My family and my wife’s family live relatively close so we don’t have that problem. We have driven to visit my wife’s siblings, but the it was a trip that could be done during a long weekend. Family is important to both of use so visiting them would be important to me too. As for traveling, it might not be for everyone, but if you’re interested you can get some nice bonuses from credit cards which I used for free flights/hotels.

    1. I am working on credit card rewards, but I honestly don’t spend enough to acquire much. What I have right now wouldn’t even cover this upcoming flight. I could look into travel specific ones, but I’m not sure if it’s really worth it for the few trips I might make. Thank you for the suggestion though!

  2. Our nearest family is all at least 1,000 miles away so we feel a bit of that pain. Thankfully most of them come to visit us now that we have little ones as everyone wants to see the grandkids. :) My youngest brother is actually moving to be about 2 1/2 hours from us as he just got his first job out of college. Hopefully that’ll mean we’ll see him more at least.

    1. Apparently my parents will only be 700 miles away (had to look it up after you mentioned that!), but I have made the drive before and it is extremely tiring and boring. My parents will be coming up for major holidays, so that will be nice. Grandkids are a nice excuse for everyone to drop by! It must be comforting for your brother to have someone close by as he starts out, I know I would appreciate it. All my relatives have been a tremendous help since I got an apartment.

  3. Family is incredibly important to both me and my wife. Unfortunately our families are 1400 miles apart, so travel is part of the equation. I’m really lucky that my job is incredibly flexible with things like vacations. I’ve even gone down to Florida and worked there for a week. It’s definitely tough when your employer is as strict about it as yours seems to be.

    I will say that I used to do 12 hour drives to and from school and I actually enjoyed it. I would usually do it all in one day, though sometimes would stop to see my Nana. If you’ve never done it, you might want to try, especially if your husband can go with you. The downside is that you lose a little more of your vacation time to travel, but depending on the flights your looking at the difference might not actually be all that much.

    1. It’s great your job let you do that! I would actually be willing to work while away if it meant an extended vacation, but I would probably only be operating at 50% capacity.

      Whew! I definitely do not enjoy the drive – I have done it twice as I vacationed down there, and both times my ex drove (mostly because he was one of those “I need to be in control of the car” types). When my mom and dad drive, they usually split up the trip; unfortunately R cannot make it this time around. The tolls and the gas definitely add up to where it’s almost comparable to fly, plus I’d get there in about two hours. And I won’t have to put more miles on my car…That being said, if I had two weeks and R coming along I’d probably opt to drive. Maybe next year if something changes!

  4. Wow, life sounds tough there! We get 20 vacation days a year, and you earn about 0.43 of a day per week. We have problems with people accruing too much leave – after 40 days, you get forced to take time off! So it’s a shock to hear you have five days – that’s just mean. Let’s not start on the fact we also get rostered days off.

    My parents live nearby (suburb of my city). But they travel a bit, which means I miss just picking up the phone to speak to them. My bf’s parents are in WA, and he doesn’t miss them! He went for Christmas (missed him terribly) and his mum’s visited once. I think he’s ok not seeing them much.

    I think you were mentioning the other day about how you struggled to find a job for a while, so gather the market is still pretty tough there, but it seems like you’re between a rock and a hard place, with all the demands of work :( I hope something works out!

    1. It really depends on the company you work for. My mom worked for the town, which is unionized, and she had so much time off she never took it all! At the end of the year she would start taking Friday’s off to use up all her days that didn’t roll over. It was sickening! I would love to have 20 days though. Are you allowed to take them consecutively or is there a limit (like only two weeks at a time)?

      Thanks! It’s the sad fact that I didn’t come out of college with a marketable degree (Criminal Justice) and neither did R, so I was mostly looking at entry level assistant jobs just to get started somewhere. There’s a lot of competition for them, from those that are older who were laid off and have a ton more experience, and others like me who were just out of college and looking for anything. Both of us have been taking the state and local government tests for jobs that we qualify for, so something may come of that, but it would mean staying in this state when we mostly want to move. We will just have to wait and see though!

      1. Ah, I’m also in a heavily unionized industry, so perhaps why all the holidays! We can take them however we like – single days on a needs basis (friend in town etc), or 6 week block to go travelling. So long as the boss knows, and the group can handle it. I’m in a big section, so it’s fine, but even in smaller sections, the bosses pretty much have to say yes :D

        Criminal justice sounds so interesting, so I can understand why you chose to study it – such a shame the economy and job market probably wasn’t at it’s best when you graduated. We don’t have the tests like you mention, but I bet getting one of those jobs would come with some good benefits. Could you apply for other states, where you want to move?

        1. Traveling for 2+ weeks sounds like heaven to me! That’s great they offer such flexibility. That was pretty much the same story with my mom – bosses usually had to say yes, unless circumstances forced them to “order” you to work (if they were very short staffed). No one ever had an issue with her taking off though, as she did so responsibly. They were required to fill out time-off sheets at the start of each year (they were allowed to change the time within reason) so they were able to plan in advance who needed to work when.

          Criminal Justice (and all the different sub-sectors like forensics) is very interesting, and I would still love to pursue it. I am hoping that once I do move I can apply and see if I get lucky, but as it is right now, the state I’d like to move to requires you to be a resident and hold a valid license. The other day I was job searching for my parents, and came across a great position, but it required the state license and firearms training, which I lack.

  5. We see the fam once every 2 years for about 3 days. Occasionally fam members come to us, perhaps one member a year from varying parts of the fam. It is usually a low-cost affair, thank goodness. The fam can be great, but we really value our freedom living nearly 2000 miles away.

    1. Oh gosh, I definitely couldn’t go without seeing my parents for a year, let alone two – that’s hard to imagine. It’s probably because I grew up as an only child, and my parents were really all I had. It’s kind of strange to me that I am so bothered by it when most people my age would be celebrating the fact their parents are moving away.

  6. The joys of being at a new job and not having those vacation days! Our family lives in SC and VA so we don’t often drive. But we do wish they were just a little closer maybe a hour or two away would be good. I don’t like people just popping up all the time at the home. We usually see the family at least once or twice per year though which is good. We visit the wifey family once and mine once together. If something comes up then sometimes she or I go on our own. It works for us. It sucks with the stress it seems that some people have in your company. What industry is this?

    1. My family always plans on when to see each other – no one just “pops up.” Well, my grandma welcomes us stopping by unexpectedly, but we always call beforehand. Otherwise, it would be a different story!

      It’s business finance related.

  7. For me, the day a company tells me I can’t take a vacation to take care of family is the day I leave. Any company that can’t handle an employee absence is too shaky anyway.

    1. We are in a bit of a transition period where they’ve been hiring more staff that myself and my coworker need to support, which means we’re getting busier than we were before. When she’s out, her duties fall on me and vice versa. It can be pretty stressful.

      I’m sure they will let me go for a week, I just wish I wasn’t putting my coworker in that situation. We also have less than 20 employees, making us a pretty small company. I think it would be different if we had 100+ employees.

  8. I go to France once or twice a year because the tickets are $1,100+. After doing that for the past 10 years, I am used to long family visits, 3-4 weeks at a time, then we just skype and email. I had the same holiday problem with my job, they would make you feel guilty about taking days off, about taking all your holiday allowance… that is bully and I hated it. But I only had a few more months to go to reach my goal and say goodbye for good so I stayed, in your case I would look for something else that offers a more flexible schedule.

    1. Wow, for $1,100 I would only visit once too! A month at a time is nice though. I have had to teach my parents how to use Skype but it’s been worth it.

      When we (hopefully) move I definitely plan on putting an emphasis on flexibility. After working for a year and a half I have more knowledge of what matters to me in the workplace than I did when I started, which is good for prioritizing!

  9. Not that work isn’t important, but holy crap! I would start looking for a new job if I was stuck in a position where I could only take five days and you have to ask two months in advance. What if someone has some medical issues to deal with? I personally would be screwed at your workplace because of some of the issues I’ve been having (I now have to go in for allergy shots once a week and it inevitably cuts into my regular working hours, though I can shift around work a bit). I know this isn’t what you want to hear, but I totally would look elsewhere.

    1. I was a little surprised at the two months in advance thing as well, but that’s just for week long vacations. For everything else they need two weeks notice (if you need to take a half day/day for medical issues). It’s still not ideal as I have a few outstanding medical things I’d like to take care of and this prevents me from doing so. I wish I could find a Dr’s office with late hours!

      Considering R will probably get transferred to a new location for his job in 5-7 months, I feel like now isn’t the time to be looking. I’d likely leave four/five months after starting. Otherwise I would be looking!

  10. Wow, tough situation, with your employer and all. You are so lucky to be close with your parents – cherish that and don’t let it change, not everyone has great family relationships. Hopefully you can find a new job one day that is more realistic about vacation time.

    1. Thanks Laurie! My parents and I have had a rocky road in the past, but nowhere near as bad as some stories I have heard. For the most part, the last five years have run pretty smoothly, except for my parents’ tendency to go away on vacation on my birthday. Now they are leaving before it too :(. They have done a lot for me and I will always be grateful for them.

    1. I agree that it’s good to plan in advance, but unfortunately the closing dates weren’t concrete until about a week or so ago, so I wasn’t sure when it would be best to visit them. Huge family get togethers are always fun and interesting!

    1. That definitely happened to me – when I was younger I didn’t care about what the adults were talking about. My cousins and I went in another room and watched TV. I don’t mind hearing about it so much these days because there’s usually something to be learned. Plus my family is rather hilarious when we all get together.

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