Advice from Denver Life

How to take the work vacations you deserve. (And other advice.)

Illustration by Ingo Fast

At my workplace, vacations seem to be frowned upon, so most of my colleagues don’t take them. I love trips and feel that getting away really makes me a better employee. What should I do? —Brittany, Greenwood Village

Isn’t it a nasty twist of fate that businesses are trending toward flex or unlimited vacation time, yet employees hesitate to take time off? You don’t say whether your company is a big one or small one. If your company is small and may suffer from your absence, talk with the boss about how (not whether) you can take your accrued vacation with minimal disruption. If you get three weeks a year, maybe you can offer to schedule them no more than one week at a time and during less hectic months, promising to check your email/messages in case there are any emergencies back at the office. If, on the other hand, your company is a big one, simply ask HR what rules are in place for vacation scheduling, and then follow them. HR departments want happy employees so it’s easy to make new hires. Take your trips and set a new trend in your workplace—or find a new job and make sure you take your accrued vacation pay with you on the way out.

My brother is always “too busy” to help our elderly mom, so I’m the one taking her to doctor appointments, the store, and even social events. I am starting to feel used. What do I do? —Jim, Castle Rock

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Well, Jim, you’re not alone. Statistics show that siblings rarely share equally in the care of aging parents—it happens in less than 5 percent of families. So it is common, if not entirely fair, for one child to take on more than the rest. That may not make you feel any better, but at least you know you’re not alone. Here’s a suggestion: Make a list of all of the needs and wants your mom has, from the large to the small (doctor, dentist, or weekly hair appointments, rides to and from the mall or bank, help with financials, etc.). Then sit down with your brother and any other siblings (with your mom not present) and talk about what duties he or they can take on. Perhaps he has more money than time and would pay for your mom to have a home caregiver once or twice a week who could drive her to certain appointments. Perhaps he is a whiz at financials and could take the bill-paying burden off of your plate. At the very least, listing all of the tasks involved in your mom’s care will remind everyone in the family of the breadth and depth of your responsibilities, and hopefully they will step up to the plate.

I happened to score great tickets to the Broncos home opener and mentioned them to a friend. Now he thinks I’ve invited him and keeps talking about it. What do I do? —Sam, Highlands

Friend, you say? Do you not like this particular friend enough to take him along with you to Joe Flacco’s Broncos home debut? Could it be that he’s a Patriots fan? Or maybe you were secretly hoping to use your tickets to score a date with renowned sports fan Jennifer Lawrence? If you did not correct your buddy the first time you realized he assumed that his friend was not merely boasting about Broncos tickets but sharing them, you have two choices. Door A: Call him now and very gently tell him you’ve noticed he seems to think you two are going to the game together, but you have other plans. Door B: Take him to the game and get your rah-rahs on.

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