There was a time not too long ago when I was at my employers beck and call. I was working as a contractor, and would answer the phone anytime day or night, weekdays or weekend. Whenever I received a a work related email, I would drop what I was doing to answer, and I can’t tell you the number of times a “Let me just reply to this really quick” turned into “I need to run home and get on the computer to handle this.” It was absolutely ridiculous. I set the precedent that I was always available, and once I was hired, it took some time to be able to change that perception. Now, my work hours are clear. The weekends are my time to get plugged into my family, and I don’t feel like I have to jump out of my chair every time I hear a new email notification.
I didn’t only have to set boundaries at work, I also had to set them at home. Since I work from home, I’m often multitasking with work and mommy duty. Every single time I’d get on the telephone for a meeting, without fail, Ayva would ask for candy, juice, the iPad, or anything else that she thought she might have a chance at getting because I was distracted. A few weeks ago, I told her that the answer will always be no to everything except water when I’m on the phone. I set a boundary, and it causes me less stress because I’m not trying to juggle talking to her and have an important meeting at the same time.
It’s impossible to be everything to everybody all of the time. Boundaries are important because they help others manage their expectations of you. Your children won’t feel like they never get attention from you if they know that from 9 AM – 11 AM every single day, you’re working. Your job won’t feel like you’re neglecting your work because you let them know that you are simply not available on Saturdays. You can always adjust the boundaries if necessary.
Day 3 – Set Some Boundaries
1. Decide what boundaries you need to set. Don’t just think about work and home. Also consider church, your friends and other social obligations. Write them down and tell your family so that you don’t forget them in the heat of the moment.
2. Find tools to help you with managing your boundaries. For example, I put an away message on my work emails on Friday late afternoon and turn it off on Monday morning. Of course, if there’s something really important going on, I can be available, but that isn’t the standard. Can you use a timer with your children to let them know when you are unavailable? A family calendar to keep your partner abreast of your schedule so he can be sure to be available when you can’t be? We live in a digital age, it shouldn’t be that hard to find tools to support you with setting and keeping your boundaries.
3. Remember your hierarchy of needs, and check in on them every day. Don’t feel bad about setting these boundaries. They are going to be the thing that helps you to be more present for your children, and isn’t that the point of all of this?
We’re going to lighten it up a bit tomorrow and talk about creating sacred spaces. Until then, set some boundaries, Mama!
Read yesterday’s post: Mommy’s Hierarchy Of Needs