I wanted to do all the things this weekend. Maybe you can relate to the feeling.
I signed up for an afternoon yoga class, and I also wanted to take my son to a free morning outdoor boot camp. But then I also wanted to do a family bike ride to the library. Plus there was Buster Days. And I wanted to plant flowers and our garden! Oh, and then there was the Children’s Festival.
It’s easy to get pulled in a bunch of different directions, especially when friends are going and invite you to join them. I could have tried to squeeze in all the things, but let’s be real: it’s not realistic! Nor would it have been fun. I’d end up feeling overwhelmed, probably resentful, and cranky. So I had to set some boundaries for myself and pick what was really important to me. In this case, bike ride over boot camp, family time over Children’s Festival, and flowers and garden have to wait: little by little, they will get planted.
It would have been easy to try and do it all, but you know what the result would have been? I would have been exhausted, and I wouldn’t have been very fun to be around if you were my husband or child. I also wouldn’t have had much patience when it came to bedtime, which is often when you need patience the most!
A few weeks ago I had to make the tough decision to cancel one of my support groups. When I went to schedule posts about the breastfeeding support group, I looked in my calendar, and saw multiple things that day. I *could* have kept the support group, but I opted to cancel it. (I also cancelled an appointment for my son.) If I had kept the support group, I wouldn’t have been my best self, and then the experience for moms wouldn’t have been very good. I can’t support moms if I’m not my best self. See where I’m going with this?
As a mom, you are pulled in all directions constantly, and some of it is beyond your control, and you do have to learn to roll with it. But there are always opportunities to set boundaries and put yourself first, and this isn’t selfish. As I always tell moms, the best way you can take care of your baby is by taking care of yourself. There’s a reason you’re supposed to put the oxygen mask on yourself first: if you pass out, you can’t help your child or anyone else.
Maybe you’re a better mom if you carve out time to exercise a few times a week. Then you need to speak to your spouse to make sure you can do this while s/he is with the children, or find a class with childcare. Maybe you hate or don’t have time for cleaning, so you find room in your budget for a housekeeper. This might mean fewer coffee dates, so you have to be confident to tell your friends to come over for coffee instead of meeting somewhere. Maybe you are pumping for your baby, but it’s taking up huge amounts of time and negatively affecting your mental health: then it’s time to give yourself permission to stop if this is what would bring you peace and joy. No guilt. No apologies.
If you set boundaries, you will be a happier person, and a happier person is able to give more of themselves to other people. So it’s actually the opposite of being selfish. And, if you respect yourself and set boundaries, other people will respect you, your boundaries, and your time more as well. We all win.
So I encourage you to take a look around you and ask yourself what doesn’t bring you joy, and what can you do to change it? Speak up! Because no one else will do it for you. And then don’t be afraid to take steps to make it happen. I’d love to hear what boundaries you plan to set – leave a comment below here or on social media!