It goes without saying, parents feel stretched in several different directions. We have our household and family responsibilities, work expectations and our own needs that require our attention and engagement.
As mom of three and a full-time employee outside of our home, I operate in several modes simultaneously — planning, execution and reaction. It's as exhausting as it sounds. Even when things go as intended, it's hard to maintain a level of energy and intentionality day-in and day-out. In the past when I've been asked to enter situations or roles that require me to go beyond my capacity, it's been hard to say no or to disengage. However, in recent years, particularly since COVID, I've practice the art of creating healthy boundaries to avoid burnout and tension when possible.
Healthy boundaries are just as they sound — guardrails in your life that foster healthy outcomes that you can accept without issue. This often times means declining offers or invitations as well as compromising and negotiating with yourself.
To help build healthy boundaries, I practice a piece of advice that was extended to me many years ago — redefine "no" to mean "yes" to something else. For example, a couple years ago, I was asked to serve on my daughter's school's teacher-parent association. I had served on it the year before, but I was heading into my first full year at my new job and had three kids at three different schools. I knew it was going to be a hard year personally and professionally. Agreeing to serve again would stretch me in ways I didn't need to be. In conversations with myself, rather than framing it as "no," I reframed as a "yes" to more free time in the evenings to decompress, shorter to do lists and less meetings. However, I promised myself I would continue to support the association by volunteering to help at events, sign-up to provide food, etc. I am really proud of myself because I contributed my time and resources in a way that worked for me.
I can't stress enough how healthy boundaries can change the quality of your life and boost your feelings of contentment and peace. When I am stretched too thin, I know it affects my family, too. My goal is to be present, happy and balanced. I fail some days, but creating healthy boundaries provides a pathway to being the best version of myself.
When is a time you created a healthy boundary?