According to a recent study, the average American is suffering from a debilitating syndrome known as the work-martyr complex. A work martyr is someone who sacrifices their paid time off—even if it costs them their health, well-being, and relationships—because they believe that no one can fill in for them or because they don’t want to be seen as replaceable by their coworkers. The result? Forty percent of Americans don’t take all of their time off, resulting in 430 million days of unused paid vacation per year, according the U.S. Travel Association.
Despite working full time, stay-at-home moms are often left out of the paid time off discussion—or the time off discussion at all. This is a huge oversight. The average American worker is entitled to 16 days of paid leave per year. However, the average American stay-at-home mom is often shamed for considering taking a single day to herself, let alone a vacation. Parents Magazine conducted a poll in which 30 percent of respondents believed there to be an element of moral reprehensibility to vacation with your partner but not your baby. When a mom, stay at home or not, says she needs some solo time off, she is often met with “Oh, I could never do that” responses from her peers.
Ultimately, we are doing a disservice to our children and ourselves if we ignore this human need for time off. Jennifer Senior has dedicated years to studying early parenthood. In her book All Joy and No Fun, she concludes that early parenthood is the phase during which people are surprisingly “least happy.”
According to Katrin Schumann, author of Mothers Need Time-Outs Too, “Parenting and birth order research shows that a little benign neglect turns children into independent, out-of-the-box thinkers…Kids need space too.”
So what’s the lesson? It benefits everyone—the mom, the child, and the partner—for mothers to take time off every year.
Read more about the need for moms to take time off at The Washington Post.
Want to know more about the importance of mothers taking time off? Shop the experts’ books below.
What are your thoughts on the work-martyr complex plaguing America? Share with us in the comments.