When I was a kid summers were gloriously long. We finished school in the spring just a few days after Memorial Day (never past the first few days of June) and we didn’t go back until just before Labor Day (never earlier than the last few days of August). That would give us almost three full months of summer vacation. The summers seemed endless–at least until mid-August when the start of the school year began to loom.
Now kids barely have two months off from school. And in their over-scheduled lives, summer camp and family vacations take up large chunks of that. No doubt enjoyable for the kiddies but it doesn’t leave much time for loafing around and running around the neighborhood, (and spending hours at the library!).
And don’t even get me started as to what happens as an adult. Unlike Europe, most Americans only get about two weeks of vacation time a year. Or in my current case three weeks of “paid days off” but sick days have to come out of that as well. Thankfully I haven’t had one sick day for about a year so I can use it all for vacation. And I am also good at linking up federal holidays and weekends to vacation time to really stretch the time away from work.
Studies show that humans need at least two weeks of continuous vacation to receive any mental health benefit from being away from everyday stress that builds up the rest of the year. Little 4-day mini-breaks, while fun and interesting don’t provide the necessary down time to allow one to decouple from the routine of life. Even worse is the increasing employer expectation that their employees shouldn’t actually take their two weeks all at once, or that employees should take their Blackberry with them on vacation.
I need to be a European.