Working Mother

Boundaries for Working Moms

I recently read an article in Working Mother magazine called 12 Truths About Being a Working Mom. There was a bit of humor, some seriousness, and absolute truth in this article – very refreshing.

Toward the end of the article was this:

Setting boundaries isn’t a luxury; it is a priority for working mothers. Without boundaries and guard rails for how and with whom we invest our energy, it becomes very difficult to create any sort of harmony between work and home. Boundaries are a must for working moms.

While all 12 points in the article are very relevant, the one that struck me the most was this one. And yet, this point had the least amount of commentary.

It may be that I am currently evaluating my own work and life boundaries so it struck me based on where I am with that. Or maybe I just needed the permission that this little section gave me.

As usual, once I think I have life figured out and finally have the right routine down, things get tossed around. This time, it was a great opportunity to work with a local program that fits my passion project. An opportunity I could not turn down so I had to figure out how to make it work.

Here is comes… I’m going to have to say no to some things so I can say yes to this. And that involved setting new boundaries.

While I love to be involved in my community, I can not say ‘yes’ to every initiative that comes my way. So, what WILL I say yes to?

Of course, I want to support my children’s school. But when and how will I do this?

It would be incredible if my house was clean enough to invite guests all the time? Since I don’t have all sorts of free time to spend cleaning, what would I consider clean? (And who can I invite over to see my ‘clean’ house?)

It is very important to me that I be home to check in with my children when they are done with school each day. For this reason, I have a firm boundary not to schedule meetings for that hour time slot. Once the running for sports and activities starts, I can call in the ‘village’ for help on busy days, but at least I have that magic hour with my kiddos before our schedule gets crazy.

When I started setting this boundary, I would always feel guilty when I would say no to meetings during this time. My tone was very apologetic and I could be easily convinced to bend.

However, I noticed that if I didn’t get that hour after school, I didn’t get quality time with my kids at all before the craziness of bedtime. Not sure about your house, but bedtime is a little chaotic at my house with three kids all demanding attention.

That after school time tends to be more relaxed and enjoyable. It gives us the opportunity to go for walks together and simply chat. That time is precious.

Since starting my own business, I have had to really change some of my thinking patterns and this was one of them. That after school time in my schedule is even more important than any other meeting on my schedule. I rarely back out on meetings with other people, so why would I do it for this one?

Every boundary I set is important, especially since I don’t usually set them until I have hit a point of frustration or exhaustion. (I definitely need to work on that!) No phone calls after 7:30 p.m. Meetings must have a firm agenda. My volunteer time is committed to my own nonprofit first, followed by two other nonprofits in my community. The weekends my children are gone are commitment free.

What boundaries have you set for yourself, your family, and your work? How have they worked for you?

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