When you become a working mom you're going to need to start saying "no" to people or events. To help protect your time you will establish personal boundaries you'll need to stick to. Sure, it's hard letting people down but your time and energy are important. This is where setting boundaries can help
What a Personal Boundary Is
A boundary is what you set up to protect your time and energy. A personal boundary is put up by you, not because someone told you to do this.
It's a limit you know you can't exceed and the reason why is personal. There’s no need to announce the boundary has been set in your head. But when the day comes that where someone crosses this boundary it’ll be time to speak up.
Here’s how personal boundaries work. First, you build your rock solid personal foundation based on you creating and understanding personal and professional values. You take the time to set up daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly priorities to gain clarity about your working motherhood lifestyle. Following a self-care plan that you can’t resist following will give you strength for when you need to say no. You'll need to be more self-awareness and gain strong emotional intelligence skills so when these boundaries come into question you know what's going on. Last, you have faith in a good personal energy management system of your own and are willing to defend it with your boundaries.
With this personal foundation built you are ready to take on any challenge! Work/life balance becomes simpler and less chaotic. You'll feel more confident and courage to go after you core desired feelings and goals.
How to Set Up Boundaries
Now that your foundation is built it's time to set up boundaries to protect all that work.
Here are a few ideas to get you started
Make a list of the people, things, and emotions that are important to you. This is a list of your values that you need to think about often. Next, it's time to get organize your priorities and self-care tasks. Keep your work calendar updated three months out is a top priority. It's important your team members know what your commitment are. Get time away from your desk to build up your personal energy. Take a walk, meditate, or just find a quiet space to sit.
This can also go for your children. There are boundaries to the rules that you set for them. You can also setup boundaries to keep your sanity when dealing with them. For instance, you won't tolerate sticky hands all over your purse or laptop. Practice keeping this boundaries with your children to help you deal with the bigger boundaries you set at work.
How to Manage When A Boundary's Been Crossed
Let's say you have personal time off scheduled on your calendar but a co-workers plans a meeting anyways. This means a personal boundary of yours has been breached. What do you do? Using the A-E-I-O-U assertiveness technique you approach the meeting leader with something like this:
Acknowledge: I understand that you want to schedule a meeting this afternoon for our big project that we’ve all been working hard on.
Express: I feel like I would have a lot to contribute but I’ve had personal time off on my calendar that was on there three months ago. If the meeting is held this afternoon I will not be able to attend.
Identify: If the meeting can be postponed until tomorrow morning I could help you run the meeting and take notes.
Outline: With these meeting minutes it should help us with our project management. They can be saved on the server so that everyone isn’t searching through their inbox for data.
Understanding: I’m really excited to contribute as well as hear where everyone stands. Organizing the meeting minutes will be a great way to keep others motivated to take the next steps in their project. How does this sound to you? Do we have an agreement?
Sticking up for your boundary sets future expectations.
It shows that you want respect for the work you put into scheduling your work and personal life. Being assertive takes courage but it's a great way to defend your boundaries.
Keep Updating and Setting Up New Boundaries
This will always be a work in progress. When you feel like a boundary was just crossed but no boundary has been defined it's time to give the feeling some thought. What within your personal foundation has been threatened? What, within your control, can you do so that your foundation is not rocked again? Put the boundary into a sentence such as, "If I'm asked to work when I've scheduled a personal day I will say no and give an alternative". This boundary thus gives you direction. You have an action plan that you will take once the boundary has been set.