I recently caught up with another librarian here in Canberra, and in our conversation, they mentioned that over a number of years, they'd managed to accrue around six weeks of unused annual leave. The main reason for this was that, whilst there were mechanisms in place for somebody to cover the essentials in their absence, they didn't feel like they could really leave the role unattended for more than a few days in a row, because a lot of things would fall by the wayside and work would pile up.
My initial response was, 'Oh, that's really not good!' But on reflection, I also realised it's been almost two years since I took more than a handful of days of annual leave - when I was away for two and a half weeks, and half of that time was spent running around at a conference!
I think that we live in a society where we're now often under pressure to work as close to capacity as possible, and the reality is that if you decide to go and take two weeks of leave, somebody has to cover for you - on top of their own work.
With the last year that we've had, it's an important reminder that making sure that I take leave isn't just about me going on holidays (though that's also nice). It's also about managing an equilibrium across the team so that it's something that the team is used to. Covering for other people's duties while they're on leave is something that should inbuilt into everybody's regular routines, so nobody feels guilty for taking leave, and nobody should feel resentful for taking on extra duties.
But that said, at the end of the day, I also really need to improve my ability to trust others. I'm quite protective of the work that I do, and I need to be better at handing my work over to others to manage in my absence, and trust them to look after my babies, and not worry about having a pile of things to catch up on when I return. That's really on me - and I also wonder how much of my reluctance to take leave is less about work culture, and more about my inability to let go of the work for a few weeks.
I suspect it's more of the latter.