During our weekly meet-ups, as we sit with our coffees in hand and laptops open, Frankie and I find there’s always an underlying theme to our discussions. So, in our quest to keep it real and provide our community with relevant content and insights each week, we felt it made sense to share with you our weekly debates and discussions.
This week is all about setting boundaries.
We live in a time where technology makes it increasingly difficult to separate work and life. As a working mother, I wanted to explore the idea of creating space to avoid burnout.
In this blog, I challenge the idea of being everything to everyone and share tips on slowing down and setting boundaries in a world seemingly without limits.
No.12 of our values is “Wellbeing is essential to success. Burnout, overwhelm and stress will ruin your business if you allow it. Wellbeing is absolutely essential for your creativity and productivity. Look after yourself, first and foremost.”
So, how do we avoid burnout and how can we create a work/life balance that is stress-free and works for us?
We feel it has a lot to do with creating space to just “be”. Setting boundaries for work and other areas of our lives are essential. Without these boundaries, how will you ever dedicate time to relax and just be with yourself? We feel taking time out is paramount in order to create space for all the other areas of your life to flourish.
We get it though, life gets in the way and sometimes it’s easy to get into a muddle. We’ve both been there!
What does setting boundaries mean to you?
Catherine Blyth, Writer, Editor and Broadcaster, recently spoke at a Mothers Meeting event, where she talked about her latest book Enjoy Time. She said, “we live in a world without limits and because of this, we need to set our own.”
With the increasingly blurred lines between our personal and work life, we have to take back some control when it comes to where those lines start and finish. Personally, as a business owner and new mum, I really struggle to know where these lines are and as a result, can become incredibly overwhelmed at times.
Lindsay Holmes, Senior Wellness Editor for HuffPost says “boundaries aren’t a way to keep people out. They make life as enjoyable as possible for you and for your loved ones as a result.”
I’m aware I need to be clearer about the boundaries I set with my work, personal and social life. In doing so, I believe I will be able to give more of myself to the areas I need to focus on, whilst having time and energy left for the areas that matter most to me.
I am at my happiest when working on exciting projects and nurturing business ideas, but it shouldn’t be to the detriment of family time and vice versa.
So how do we set boundaries?
Sharmadean Reid, London-based entrepreneur, mum of one and founder of Wah Nails, wrote an article for The Guardian on “How do I find time for my family?”. In it, she talks about how she sets boundaries and separates her working life from her family life.
“I decided to carve out dedicated family time and work time, and I now rule my life by a fairly tight calendar. If I am working from home and Roman wants me to play, I’ll explain that I need 10 more minutes, then the laptop is closed and he has my full attention.”
Sharmadean has set boundaries for both her family and work. This way, she knows she can complete her work on her own time, and can then give 100% of herself to her son.
I love this dedication and discipline. These simple boundaries enable Sharmadean the opportunity to be a focused business owner and then a present and doting mother. I find myself
A few tips for staying focused:
- Write down goals for each area of your life, both personal and professional. Make sure they’re achievable. When you write things down they manifest and once written down they are more likely to happen.
- Know your “why?”. What motivates you to do what you do? Have your intention at the surface of everything you do. It will not only help you determine what you should be doing and when, but it will also help with when you have to make important (and potentially game-changing) decisions.
- Implement the rule that your laptop only comes out when your child is napping, sleeping or otherwise entertained.
- When you sit down to work, turn your phone to flight mode. This will help you avoid any unwanted distractions.
- Be proactive rather than reactive. Plan ahead and know what you want to achieve in a specific time frame. That way, when you have the time, you know exactly what it is you want to get done.
- When you’re with your family, it should be a no-screen zone. Avoid the temptation to look at emails and work-related subjects.
I recently wrote a blog on juggling motherhood and entrepreneurship. I include some tips on how to stay focused. Looking back, they all seem incredibly simple but sometimes, it’s the simple things we tend to overlook. You can read this blog here.
Taking a break
Frankie recently posted about her experience attending a ‘business coaching meets spirituality’ workshop run by Tracey Liv. In this post, she said how she wanted to “take a break and connect with a part of [herself] that doesn’t have to be doing in order to matter”. This really resonated with me as I’m sure it will have done for many others.
We’re fortunate that society now recognises that slowing down and taking some time to unwind is important to succeed in all areas of life. However, setting time aside to do nothing is much easier said than done.
Tips for slowing down:
- Take regular breaks, it’s proven that by taking regular breaks, you allow more space in your brain to absorb information.
- Don’t forget to schedule in downtime.
- Breathe – slow breathing and the 4-7-8 technique is a natural tranquilliser for the nervous system.
- TV and screen time is incredibly stimulating so try and replace this time with reading a book or listening to a podcast. We love Audible!
- Mindfulness and meditation are still wildly underrated as a tool to help us all with slowing down. Some of our faves are Headspace, Calm and Insight Timer.
You can’t be everything to everyone
As a mother and business owner, trying to figure out my new role as a ‘mumpreneur’, I’ve realised that I can’t be everything to everyone. ‘Mum guilt’ is real, and depending on whether we are giving our time and energy to our business or babies, we can sometimes feel guilty that the other one is being neglected.
Motherhood is a juggling act but so is life in general. If you give a piece of yourself to everyone there would be nothing left. So prioritising your wellbeing is key. Establishing what is important for you, your happiness and sense of self is crucial to then being able to help others.
Robert Holden, author of Think Happy: Instant Peptalks to Boost Positivity, says: “your relationship with yourself sets the tone for every other relationship you have.” When we consider our relationships with ourselves and others, could the same can be said for our relationship with business?
Further to this point, Suzy Ashworth, mindset and business coach, believes that how we treat and perceive ourselves will have a direct impact on the way we approach business. The idea that confidence, focus and drive are mindsets that transfer across both our personal and professional lives seems obvious. But how can we achieve this?
Suzy, in an interview by Alison Parry on her ‘Not another mummy’ podcast, suggests there are some simple ways you can achieve a limitless life:
- Take some time to get quiet (mediate, write a journal, whatever it is that allows you the space to stop and be still.)
- What’s the big picture? Write down the one thing you want to achieve, if fear of failing wasn’t an issue.
- Put yourself in situations and environments in real life or online, where you are surrounding yourself by people who inspire you and lift you up.
Perhaps it’s naive to think we have all the answers. However, I feel if we were to have a moment of self-reflection, we can find a lot of what we’re looking for within. By asking ourselves the right questions, we can establish necessary boundaries, which in turn protect us from feeling stretched, overworked and like we’re stuck in a hamster wheel.
- What do I want to achieve?
- What do I need to do?
- What’s standing in my way?
I’m still establishing certain boundaries in my life. I think my biggest challenge is separating my role as a working mum and being a present mum. I can’t be both at the same time. So, finding a solution to this is paramount to ensure the success of my business as well as my own happiness and wellbeing.
For me, I believe the solution is to find childcare for my son, Bodhi so that I know he is in safe hands while I spend a few hours a day focusing on my work. I’m looking into childcare, co-working space with a creche and other options for working mums so that I can be close to Bodhi whilst still having the independence and space to work or just “be”.
If you have any advice or your own experiences to share, please comment below or get in touch. I’d love to hear from other working parents!
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