Today I’m sharing a guest post from Tasha Shields at Shields Coaching. Tasha is a workplace wellness coach so I thought she’d be the perfect guest to talk to us about creating healthy boundaries between work and family life.
So we’ve all been there. There are a bunch of new hires at work and it’s taking longer than expected to onboard everyone. A deadline for a big project looms. And then it happens. Your boss asks you to stay late. Since its for a project you’ve spent months nurturing you agree. You think to yourself, just this once.
But a few weeks later your boss asks you to stay late again…
Creating healthy boundaries is an important part of achieving work-life balance. And before you assume I’m talking about some unattainable version of work-life balance, lets just take a second to examine it.
Work-life balance is not about spending 50% of your time at work, and the other 50% at home with your family. Balance is about splitting your time between things that are important to you in a way that makes sense to you and makes you happy.
Balance is knowing things are not going to be perfect and that each day will be different, but also knowing that you’re rocking it no matter what is going on.
Boundaries help keep your own unique version of balance in check. They remind you of what you’ve prioritised and keep you feeling good about the decisions you make.
They also help free up some brain-power. You don’t have to make the same decisions everyday because you know exactly where you’ve set your own personal boundaries.
Healthy boundaries are important for not just work, but for our personal lives as well. Bosses, children, partners, friends, and other family members all need boundaries so that you’re not always put in a position where you have to choose between work and family.
Communicate your boundaries in a clear and respectful way so that others know ahead of time what to expect.
A useful step in creating new healthy boundaries is to write down what your specific boundary is and why it is important to you. Think of it as giving yourself a guideline to work within.
For the staying late after work example, you could write a self-guideline such as “I will not work past 6:00 pm”. List the reasons why you’re making this a guideline in the first place, so you can refer back to it at a later time. Examples might include so you can be home in time for dinner, you don’t miss football practice, or you need to leave enough time to hit the gym.
If you’re ready to start creating some new boundaries for yourself here are a few suggestions to get you started:
1. When not at work, don’t look at work emails. Emails can wait until the next day. If you’re working on something important and an immediate response is necessary, discuss with your boss how you’re going to be compensated for being on call to answer questions while at home.
2. When you are at work, be at work. It is ok to not be thinking about your children, your to-do list, your partner, or feeding the dog while you’re at work. If being awesome at your job makes you feel wonderful, then drink it all in. Let go of the guilt associated with not being with your family and focus on your tasks for the day. Your family will be there waiting when you’re done.
3. Talk with your partner about common work-life boundaries that you can share. This can help you feel accountable, and also not feel that you are doing all the heavy lifting in the relationship. An option could be to set a shared time that you both unplug from devices. Freeing up this time can lead to more organic conversations that might go unsaid if you think your partner is busy on their phone. Setting an alarm or turning on the downtime function can help keep you both on track.
4. Set time aside for your own personal downtime. And unless its an emergency, DO NOT give this up. As an ambitious mother who wants to kick ass in this world, you need to take care of yourself. If you make plans for some personal time (gym, yoga, movie, reading, etc) and then don’t follow through you are telling your family, colleagues, or partner that your needs are not important. You need this time so you don’t burn out.
Don’t be afraid to reevaluate your boundaries. Give them a while to see if they’re working for you. But if you’re finding that it’s just not cutting it then give it a rework. Adjust and communicate it again. Keep doing this until you have a version that works for you and your family.
If you find creating and sticking to boundaries tough, remember that you are setting an example for how your kids are going to view work-life balance in the future.
By setting clear boundaries you are showing your kids/telling them that it is OK for them to set boundaries that are important to them in the future.
To connect with Tasha and continue the discussion on creating healthy boundaries: