Picture the scene:
You’re at your desk (at home, obvs) getting on with your work whilst your partner / friend has taken the kids to the park. They arrive home, but nobody disturbs you because they know that you’re working. Your phone is set to ‘do not disturb’ and you’re not tempted to look at it. You know what’s for tea (I’m a Northerner, OK?) later and you know that once the kids are in bed you’ll be going for a run.
Or is your reality more like 2 people trying to work whilst simultaneously trying to organise playdates for the kids, whilst keeping them from staring at screens the whole day, whilst checking your phone every time an alert flashes up, whilst trying to think about dinner and who will walk the dog and when, and exercise…that’s just not going to happen today. Add into the mix a large helping of resentment and voila – a perfect mixture of stress and lack of control.
Setting strong boundaries, both mentally and physically, can help us get closer to the first scenario. Being able to set boundaries for ourselves and our families has always had its benefits but now, with so many of us still WFH in some capacity, they have become even more important to implement as work and family life continue to blur.
Having strong boundaries in place means:
· We develop a real sense of being in control
· Better focus on the task in hand
· Fewer distractions
· Everyone knows where they’re at
· Things become more enjoyable
· Fewer feelings of guilt (notice I say ‘fewer’, not ‘no’ – that’s a whole other blog post)
· You can switch off from work
· Self-care becomes a priority
· Increased confidence and self-esteem
But how do we go about setting them?
Ultimately they come from your core – so that’s a pretty good place to start.
Ask yourself; what are my values & what are my needs?
Once you know this, work out what you need to put in place to honour them. So, for example, I value my time with my kids, I need to have some time and space to think – so I might work on how to carve out time to do both individually and well by making sure each is sacred and doesn’t blur into something else.
“But that’s all very well in theory, but life isn’t as simple as that” I hear you say!
No it isn’t, but you have to start somewhere, and once you start, it becomes easier.
So here are some tips on how to begin to implement boundaries:
Learn to say no
I can’t tell you how important this is. But also haaaaard sometimes. Other people benefit from us not having boundaries, but this is about YOU.
Don’t just set them in your head – tell others, and work together.
Ask for help
You don’t have to do this alone!
If you really need or value something, then try not to cave.
Explain to your kids (and why)
Kids are used to boundaries, they encounter them all of the time at nursery, school etc, so you can’t use your kids as an excuse!
Remember why you’re setting them
It’s easy to lose perspective, so remind yourself why it’s important.
Don’t hide from your situation
Sometimes it’s easier to bury our heads in the sand, but this isn’t helpful. Be honest with yourself.
Practice, practice, practice
The more you do it, the easier it becomes.
And remember, boundaries are limits that we set for ourselves, which determine what we will / won’t participate in, when, and to what extent. The only person that is going to set them for you, is you!