The Burning Question to Help You Take Time off from Your Nonprofit

It’s been a busy week and I am back in the full-time swing of things. Why? School started! If you are a parent, you know what I am talking about. Summer is real for taking mandatory time away from the computer when you have kids.

But it’s a great mandatory time away. If we try to ‘work through holidays’ we may end up feeling guilty for not spending time with our kids or burned out by trying to work regular hours and getting frustrated with everyone in the house.

You might say, “Just send your kid to summer camp or to daycare!”

Well, that’s not always the solution for every working parent. 

Summer camp and daycare can cost a pretty penny, your kids may dread it, and there could be major transportation issues. Plus, you actually might want to spend more time with the kiddos during these times off ;)

A better solution may be setting up your year so you work shorter hours during summer, Christmas break, and other holidays. 

It may not feel like you even have that choice to do that at this point in your life, but let me tell you it is possible.

I was once there, too. As a single mom working at a nonprofit and living paycheck to paycheck, I would literally cry some days because it is not sustainable.

Instead, I started to reshape the question. “What if I could take time off? How would I do that?”

When you start telling yourself that it is possible, your brain will automatically start thinking of solutions. 

If you find yourself listing all the ways that you could never reduce your hours (or – gulp – take the time off), then take a breath and redirect the question, “But what if I could?”

One of the answers was to stop working at the nonprofit that paid me pennies. 

Bold move, but necessary. 

Of course, I didn’t do that overnight. I set a plan in motion. I opened up a side company where I had no glass ceiling. I eventually was able to turn that into a full-time business that offered flexibility, more income, and greater opportunities. And I didn’t stop working the first summer I opened my business, but I did reduce my hours when my daughter was out of school.

Your answer might not be opening a business (but it might be!). 

  • It might be having that uncomfortable conversation with your boss and asking for a raise while simultaneously asking for reduced hours at work (believe me, you probably deserve both). 
  • It may be applying for a promotion within your nonprofit. 
  • It may be asking for that overdue bonus. 
  • It may be saying you will stay at the nonprofit but will work only 10 months out of the year.

The time to negotiate is NOW. 

We see this with the Great Resignation (or what I like to call the Great Redistribution) and the sheer number of jobs open right now. Empower yourself by shifting the power dynamics in the nonprofit sector. 

  • We are not meant to work for peanuts while working 24/7 just because the cause is good. 
  • We are not meant to advocate for child empowerment when we work so long we hardly see our own kids. 

The mindset, and subsequently the system, of the nonprofit sector changes when we pick up the reigns of how we want to design our lives. But first we need to believe that we can do it.

I know that’s when it changed for me. When I believed my life in the nonprofit sector didn’t have to be one of martyrdom, but one of empowerment. The how came after the belief.

I encourage you to start asking, “What if?”

Let me know what answers pop up for you! Tag me on Instagram or LinkedIn :)