Comments on: can you be spontaneous when you have a full-time job? Sat, 21 Nov 2020 18:12:14 +0000 hourly 1 By: Alice's Rabbit Sat, 21 Nov 2020 18:12:14 +0000 In reply to OP.

He’s picked up some bad habits working there, then. He will have to be careful not to take those habits with him when he moves on, because that won’t fly at most companies.

By: Alice's Rabbit Sat, 21 Nov 2020 18:07:45 +0000 In reply to Portabella.

Same. My husband worked 9-5, but I didn’t get off until 10 pm.
I brought him lunch several times. He brought me dinner sometimes, too.. I carpooled in to work, but he’d often be there to pick me up at the end of the day.
Spontaneity has to look different when you’re a working professional. And yes, that often means not spending as much time with friends.

By: Alice's Rabbit Sat, 21 Nov 2020 17:56:48 +0000 In reply to DataSci.

He’s not saying that the preservation itself is frivolous. Just that many of the activities people undertake to blow off steam, and thereby preserve their mental health, are frivolous.
And frivolity is not automatically a bad thing. We all need some fun in our lives. We’re not robots.

By: Alice's Rabbit Sat, 21 Nov 2020 17:51:37 +0000 In reply to Garlicky.

Yeah, same thing. It’s taking a day off to recharge and relax, rather than because you have specific plans or you’re actually sick.
Some folks recognize the warning signs that they’re approaching burnout, and will schedule a day off in advance to do this. Others (especially newer employees in the work force) haven’t figured that out yet, and end up calling in sick.

By: Alice's Rabbit Sat, 21 Nov 2020 17:32:28 +0000 In reply to KateM.

Yes! Scheduling and planning are part of adulthood. Spontaneity, while fun, has to take a back seat to practicality.
One can still be spontaneous. Just not in the same ways. Unscheduled social events aren’t really an option anymore. But little surprises are still a fun way to spice things up.

By: Alice's Rabbit Sat, 21 Nov 2020 17:23:01 +0000 In reply to AnNina.

Yeah, working does remove a lot of spontaneity. It’s just the reality of life. You have obligations that require you to be in a particular place (work) at a particular time (your scheduled hours). It’s hard when your husband’s hours don’t line up with yours, but that happens sometimes. Mine didn’t line up with my husband’s for the first 18 months we were married. We worked around it, though. It just requires more planning ahead and scheduling.
If being spontaneous is important to your marriage, LW, then you’ll have to find ways to be spontaneous within the bounds set by your work hours. Surprise each other for lunch sometimes. Plan to have a date, but let the actual activities be a surprise. Plan some time off to spend together, and just do random fun things you haven’t done in a while.
But yes, working does curtail your social life at times. That’s just how it is, and it’s that way with any job, no matter what your schedule is. Your husband needs to accept that and support you in building your reputation as a reliable professional.

By: EngineerMom Fri, 20 Nov 2020 16:37:17 +0000 In reply to avocadotacos.

This sounds like a symptom of a bigger problem – how to resolve the differences between your and your husband’s work schedules.

That said, there’s a relatively easy solution to this – get better at planning! You don’t have to be spontaneous to have fun.

You can plan to take a day or two off, and just not plan the day, and make that the spontaneous part.

He can surprise you with an evening event when you thought he’d be working by planning to take a Friday or Saturday night off.

He shouldn’t expect you to be flaking out on your job just because he’s bored.

By: Sleepy anon Fri, 20 Nov 2020 05:14:20 +0000 In reply to Mockingdragon.

I agree that those kinds of days are important. I also think they’d be better off being called “self-care days” instead of “mental health days”. And with all that said, I don’t think what the OP was considering doing would fit into either category. It would have just been straight-up ditching work for something more fun.

By: Sleepy anon Fri, 20 Nov 2020 05:06:51 +0000 In reply to Massmatt.

This!! I was actually thinking that none of this looks good on the boyfriend – to be so willing to lie to suit his own wants, and to fully expect you to do the same. It might be a stretch but it seems like the kind of guy that would cheat and blame it on his spouse.

By: Sleepy anon Fri, 20 Nov 2020 05:05:20 +0000 In reply to Shhhh.

Ha, I had a moment where I was like, “did I write this?”

I eventually went with “not feeling well due to a pre-existing medical condition,” and sometimes a migraine (which is often true but usually secondary to the mental health issues – I get them when overstimulated and anxiety usually contributed to that).

I tried to just push through but it didn’t go well. It’s infuriating, though, when you see people like the LW’s boyfriend who think that mental health days are just fun days. What I would give to have a mental health day that wasn’t actually for my mental health.

By: L Thu, 19 Nov 2020 18:06:36 +0000 Sorry, I’m kind of stuck on:

“I had COVID and took three days off in the last six weeks” (shall I assume LW is working from home in general?) and “my husband wanted me to go hang out with friends outdoors in a ‘pandemic-friendly’ environment” which to my knowledge is basically nothing right now, especially with the recent news that smaller gatherings are responsible for more spikes lately. Or maybe I feel like someone who’s a little irresponsible to say “just lie about your health in a new job so you can get the afternoon off to play” may not be responsible with his own public health. Or maybe I’m just paranoid and exhausted.

By: DataSci Thu, 19 Nov 2020 15:02:29 +0000 In reply to Gray Lady.

I don’t think “preserving mental health” is frivolous. I’ve taken mental health days after major deadlines when I’ve been pulling 12-hour days for a week. No medical issue, physical or mental, but much needed to be able to come back to work refreshed and ready.

By: Nanani Wed, 18 Nov 2020 20:18:23 +0000 In reply to AguyinVa.

It would absolutely hurt a new employee with no PTO accrued. Especially if it then becomes a pattern… “But you took last minute time off last time”

By: Elizabeth West Wed, 18 Nov 2020 19:49:42 +0000 In reply to Not A Girl Boss.

When I worked varying shifts at factories, both as an assembler and for the company that managed the facility cafeterias, I knew a lot of people who did stuff like this. They often worked opposite shifts from their spouses and had to be creative in order to spend time together. It can be done.

By: RagingADHD Wed, 18 Nov 2020 19:46:22 +0000 In reply to anon manager.

Well, and that he didn’t just ask her to bail. He asked her to lie, which is obviously something she’s not comfortable with.

Bailing / short-notice is a work culture thing. Lying to your boss is a personal thing.

By: coldbrewraktajino Wed, 18 Nov 2020 18:50:46 +0000 In reply to EZ Like Sunday Morning.

That’s commendable and RIP his circadian rhythms!

By: ErinWV Wed, 18 Nov 2020 18:13:56 +0000 In reply to D3.

What if we came up with a new expression? I think the common usage of the term is more like what we today call “wellness” or “self-care.” It’s not an indicator that the person is suffering severe depression or having a legitimate breakdown, just a time when an otherwise functional and healthy adult needs to prioritize comfort over responsibility. Personally, my mental health/wellness/self-care days are usually spent watching Netflix in bed, not having an adventure.

Another vocab option: the university where I work has offered students scattered Respite Days, a day when classes are not in session, to give them time to decompress from school work and pandemic stress.

By: Starbuck Wed, 18 Nov 2020 18:01:54 +0000 In reply to Artemesia.

Yes, times certainly do change, thank goodness. People needn’t feel guilty for taking an afternoon off here or there. Especially teachers! They get screwed over plenty. Like this BS about the minimum exempt salary threshold not including them…. ridiculous.

By: MCMonkeyBean Wed, 18 Nov 2020 17:53:41 +0000 You definitely did the right think in this instance, but with regards to your question about whether people in regular office jobs can *ever* be spontaneous there are definitely lots of times/places where that’s doable.

As Alison said, it depends so much on your job, your workload and your manager. Also the amount of time you are asking for makes a big difference–at my office it’s honestly not that rare for someone to be like “I have to leave at 3 today” or something. In general, more time is probably going to need more notice.

I will add something that I don’t know if it would be something that you would be interested in asking about in future job searches. At my office, we have “busy seasons” that sometimes require overtime and they try to make up for that by being really flexible the rest of the year. One thing is that during slower seasons we have the option to work 10-hour days for four days and then take Friday off. I have never taken advantage of that specifically because I thought “well what’s the point of taking all those Fridays if my husband is working anyway” but I had a coworker who did that every week during the summer.

Obviously that setup is only workable in places that don’t require coverage!

By: boop the first Wed, 18 Nov 2020 17:43:27 +0000 In reply to AdAgencyChick.

Yeah, it’s also very not cool to do this to another person. My parent used to complain to my other parent for not ditching work to spontaneously hang out, even though that job was what paid all the bills, and, well, they’re split now.

By: Frageelie Wed, 18 Nov 2020 17:07:15 +0000 In reply to londonedit.

Us too. Private company in the US. We just are….reasonable?

By: Frageelie Wed, 18 Nov 2020 17:06:40 +0000 In reply to Sylvan.

This is how ours works too, but in actual reality, you don’t make them “earn” it first. So in January, if I want to take the first week off, I can take the first week off. Technically that’s negative, but it just seems reasonable.
Also doesn’t make sense if you can’t roll over time. How do you earn that last PTO day because now you have to get to the end of the year to earn it. I understand this is how some companies operate, but I find it incredibly unreasonable.

By: kibb Wed, 18 Nov 2020 16:08:07 +0000 if you were sick with covid you should understand even a “small outdoors” gathering isn’t the best thing to even be doing right now.

By: Cendol Wed, 18 Nov 2020 15:52:15 +0000 Late to this, but wow, it is timely! My partner is an academic, meaning they set their own schedule and also have week- or month-long teaching breaks; I work 9-5 and have the usual “generous” amount of American PTO. They have never worked a 9-5 office job and have no understanding of how rigid it can be. It’s definitely a (small) point of friction in our relationship. When I explain how things are, their response is that “it shouldn’t be that way.” Well, I agree, but this is the system I work in! Lol.

OP, congrats on your new job, and I hope you and your husband can figure something out!

By: teapot product analyzer Wed, 18 Nov 2020 15:29:23 +0000 Does your husband have a habit of sabotaging you? Because this certainly seems like sabotage to me.

By: GoMonkey Wed, 18 Nov 2020 15:22:36 +0000 Has your husband ever had a regular job? His comments are phenomenally off-base.

By: Scarlet2 Wed, 18 Nov 2020 14:57:40 +0000 In reply to Massmatt.


By: Shhhh Wed, 18 Nov 2020 14:24:38 +0000 In reply to anon manager.

I have an anxiety disorder and have, in the past, done the “I’m not feeling great” thing to get a day off when I didn’t feel like I could explain the real reason, but I also haven’t done it since COVID even though I’m 100% remote because I don’t want anyone to worry. It doesn’t feel like the time to do that.

By: CowWhisperer Wed, 18 Nov 2020 14:17:03 +0000 In reply to Alex.

Yes! There are times and places in life where spontaneous works – and other times where it fails miserably.

My husband and I used to be able to pull of spontaneity when we were kid-free and working jobs with lots of flexibility. Now we have a kid and each work separate shifts – so planning is key.

By: CoveredInBees Wed, 18 Nov 2020 14:15:03 +0000 In reply to OP.

What you described at your previous employer is bad practice and should not be taken as normal. If you are out of work you are out of work; whether you’re sick or on vacation. There might be occasional emergencies, depending on your profession, but daily calls when you have the flu? That is not standard.

By: agnes Wed, 18 Nov 2020 13:44:17 +0000 In reply to animaniactoo.

I like animaniactoo’s read on this issue. These are different workplace environments.

This letter reminds me of the issues I had with my father. He was a tenured professor who taught 2 classes a semester and did research and graduate student supervision the rest of the time. He could never understand why I “only” got three paid days off at Christmas, or why I couldn’t just go for a hike at 3 pm on a Thursday or take a 3 week trip with him to Europe. . He still doesn’t understand. He also doesn’t understand that I LIKE my job and that I don’t feel deprived. He chose his career primarily for the lifestyle and I respect that. I wish he could understand that I chose my career for the challenge and impact I can have and I am happy with that choice.

By: LQ Wed, 18 Nov 2020 13:31:54 +0000 In reply to allathian.

Some people are just sharers like that. Some people want to share that information. It doesn’t always have to be a bad boss or traumatic past, sometimes people are different and don’t have the exact same values as you.

By: LQ Wed, 18 Nov 2020 13:27:32 +0000 In reply to Emma.

I think you can get a good enough feeling. If you constantly see folks shifting schedules and taking off time you’d likely see that by 6 weeks. On the other hand if after 6 weeks you haven’t see anyone do this I’d be very hesitant. It could be a fluke still at 6 weeks, but I think you can get a feel for it. But it would be worth looking a little more closely if it wasn’t one of those edge cases. If it’s only one group (either folks who have been around a long long time, or only one department, or only upper management, or only salaried/hourly) then I’d be much more likely to hesitate.

By: RebelwithMouseyHair Wed, 18 Nov 2020 13:07:40 +0000 Agree with Alison, you did the right thing.
I’m more concerned with your husband’s attitude: would he have done what he was telling you to do if the circumstances were flipped? If he did, that would show a poor work ethic. If he didn’t, that would show a lack of respect for your job. Personally, I have noticed that my partner never values what I’m doing and has expected me to drop it for him on many occasions. Partly it’s because he earns plenty for both of us, my earnings are quite pitiful in comparison. For me, it’s my independence and pride that are at stake. I have managed to din into him that I take my work seriously and he no longer does it, but it took some time.

By: agnes Wed, 18 Nov 2020 12:33:14 +0000 IMO, A “mental health” day is different from a “mental wellness” day. Ii think people should take PTO or vacation time for a mental wellness day, which I define as just being tired or a little burned out, or unmotivated, or “meh.” A mental health day, on the other hand, is to deal with a flare up of a diagnosed condition, such as depression, OCD, etc. In that instance, that does seem to me to be a reasonable use of sick time.

By: EZ Like Sunday Morning Wed, 18 Nov 2020 12:23:59 +0000 In reply to coldbrewraktajino.

I had a very similar situation- My dad worked 3rd shift my entire life, but he always made sure to come to my school/sports events for as long as he could before he had to go to work in the evening, and he somehow was able to have a normal weekend after coming home from work Saturday morning. I don’t know how he did it.

By: KateM Wed, 18 Nov 2020 12:08:25 +0000 In reply to Ponytail.

The fac that husband would suggest this AT ALL make me sideeye him.

By: KateM Wed, 18 Nov 2020 12:07:34 +0000 In reply to micklethwaite.


By: KateM Wed, 18 Nov 2020 12:03:50 +0000 In reply to Alex.

This kind of spontaneous that OP describes I would call being a weathercock. It’s normal to make plans once you are an adult with responsibilities.

By: Kate H Wed, 18 Nov 2020 11:45:46 +0000 I want to emphasize that this depends very heavily on your workplace. I have a job that doesn’t require coverage and if I so much as ask my boss if I can take my *lunch hour* late for an appointment, he complains that I didn’t give him two weeks’ notice. Fair and reasonable practice go out the window when you’re working somewhere toxic.

By: allathian Wed, 18 Nov 2020 11:11:55 +0000 In reply to Frageelie.

My gripe is with the people who won’t commit to a plan and who send the message of “oh, I’ll come if nothing better turns up.” One of my husband’s friends is notorious for this. I mean, if we’re doing a barbecue night, we want to know if 3 or 8 guests are coming before we do the shopping. With this particular friend, who’s otherwise a decent guy, my husband’s learned to plan only things that can either be easily postponed or his presence/absence at the last minute can be easily accommodated.

I went through a tough period in my mid-20s following breakup from a dysfunctional relationship. I was also underemployed at the time and didn’t have a lot of money. I had only myself to please, but I needed routine to keep going. So I’d almost always turn down an invitation to meet a friend on Saturday if I got the invitation on Wednesday or later. The more advance notice I had, the better I liked it. I was also “socially paralyzed” to the point that I had a hard time planning any events myself. I was diagnosed with depression while I was in the bad relationship, but I recovered from that fairly soon when the relationship ended. I don’t think I’ve ever completely grown out of this need for advance notice and my intense dislike of even happy surprises, although I admit that being a parent has made it easier for me to accept that things don’t always go according to plan…

By: micklethwaite Wed, 18 Nov 2020 11:04:09 +0000 In reply to OP.

I think your husband doesn’t realise how much that just wouldn’t fly in a lot of workplaces. I can’t think of anywhere I’ve worked where that would have been OK for people at my level to do. He may get an unpleasant shock in his next job if he assumes he can do the same thing!

By: allathian Wed, 18 Nov 2020 10:56:53 +0000 In reply to NW Mossy.

Hard agree. That said, I wasn’t all that spontaneous even in my early twenties. I was either working part-time while studying full-time, or else I was studying full-time without a job and not much money to spend on fun stuff.

By: allathian Wed, 18 Nov 2020 10:43:41 +0000 In reply to allathian.

This only applies if you’re just due to go on vacation. If you get sick in the middle of your vacation, you’re sick on vacation.

By: allathian Wed, 18 Nov 2020 10:43:05 +0000 In reply to londonedit.

The same thing applies in Finland. But I guess we’re even more extreme, if you have arranged to take time off work and happen to get sick just before you’re due to go on vacation, you can postpone your vacation with a doctor’s note. The idea is that vacation is earned time off, if you’re sick, it’s on company time.