I am a part of an online network called Chairman Mom. I’m not a huge fan of Facebook groups anymore and while I don’t get the benefit of face-to-face interaction there, I appreciate the honest + respectful conversations that happen with other working mothers (an added bonus is zero ads and inability to mindlessly “scroll” - something I keep in mind here).
A woman who has a toddler recently posted a question to the group (there are hundreds of us):
“How do I set expectations for a new job where I want to leave reasonably early?” She went on to say that she’ll be leading a team after four years of working freelance, and has a four year old that she must pick up by 4 // 4:30 p.m. She’s worried her team will have a hard time understanding this, even though her boss who lives in another city is okay with it. And, she’s already promising to make it up by logging onto the computer later and tackling emails because she cannot stay late.
This sparks all kinds of thoughts in my mind:
Kudos to this woman who is starting to set boundaries after having a child.
Why is it that she needs to log on again after her kid goes to bed? Would it be possible to focus the work and get more done in less time? When is she making time for rest? Side note: “Rest” looks different for each of us.
This isn’t just a conversation about boundaries, it’s a conversation about worth.
Let’s go straight to #3, shall we?
Boundaries are directly correlated to your sense of worth. Boundaries are sharing what you need to function and serve well in the world. Boundaries are not selfish, they do not make you look weak, and, in fact, lead to a decreased chance of burnout and heartache in a world that is always asking for more.
So, what we need to do is pause, get still, meditate, breathe, move our bodies, and remember that our vessels come first. Our souls come first. That in order to rock it at the office, be patient with our children at night when they’re throwing tantrums at bathtime (just me?), be present with our partner // friends // mother on the phone, we must get clear on what we need. Without boundaries, we’re all on a fast track to fatigue, resentment, illness, being overworked, and feeling less creative and inspired.
Who wants that?? NOT ME.
I’m learning that mothers (and I’m speaking as a mother) wear many hats and have different expectations. And, of course, if you are not a mother, I acknowledge your roles, too. It’s just this has been more tricky for me to navigate in the career space. My needs are different now and they are important and sometimes complex. So are yours.
So, circling back to this poster’s question about setting expectations to leave reasonably early... First, we have to be confident in the decisions we make. And, that stems from knowing our worth.
Getting in the office early and leaving early to be with our children, grandchildren, or aging parents does not make us less than.
Taking personal days as needed to do whatever it is our soul craves does not make us less than.
Going to bed earlier than much of society (9:30 p.m. club right here) and choosing to forgo Hulu until the weekend does not make us less than.
Needing walks and an actual lunch break during the day at work does not make us less than.
Asking our partners to take over bathtime/bedtime a night or two a week so we can go do yoga or get outside alone does not make us less than.
Committing to working hours that respect your need for a rich life full of movement, learning, family and friends, art, etc. does not make you less than.
In fact, boundaries give you MORE. They give the world more. But, you have to get clear on what it is that you need. You have to ask: How am I doing? What I do I need to feel love? To live from love? To feel joy? To give joy? What do I need right now in this moment? It starts with getting still enough to listen.
What is a boundary that you NEED to set for yourself? I'd really love to hear it in the comments below.
With love, Leanne