‘Mommy, my zoom is not working and I can’t log in to class’.
‘I’m just on my break and thought I’d call for a quick chat’
‘Darling, I’m going to be late, yet again. I know it’s my turn to cook, but what’s for dinner?’
‘Can you put your plate away after your meal?’
‘How many times do I remind you that laundry is your task?’
‘Can you vacuum the house? It’s lockdown and the cleaners won’t be able to come’. What! It’s going to take a long time!!
The life of a woman (generally) and that too of a mother.
I get it. This is how I’ve been feeling the past few weeks and comparing notes with my girlfriends, I know that a lot of women are in the same boat.
I am known to be a boundary badass and even I was feeling the brunt of being a woman, a mother and a wife. The pandemic with the fourth lockdown in Victoria and concern for people all around the world made it harder for me. For that matter, getting out of lockdown and going back to ‘pre-covid normalcy’ didn’t help. It had me running around like crazy – school drop-offs and pick-ups and the face-to-face extra-curricular activities had my energy going from 100 to zero in less time than it would take to run a marathon.
Even as I am writing this, I was debating whether or not to pen this as I usually am a very ‘positive mostly’ kind of gal. But today, I was called to be vulnerable because this might save another person’s sanity!
So, here are my top tips to be a boundary badass and set rules.
Tip #1: Know your capacity
All of us have a limited amount of time and energy on a given day. It’s like you wake up with your tank full (or sometimes with less gas if you’ve had a sick child or a restless night) and can keep giving till your tank sort of gets empty.
For each woman, this varies depending on age, the food you eat, exercise and everything else happening in your life – even emotionally. If you are a working woman or a mother or a caregiver, your to-do list can be endless.
So, make a list of all the tasks in the house. Know which ones are your priority – considering your energy tank and knowing that there are only 24 hours in a day.
Women are known to keep giving even when there is no fuel and over time, the frustration builds up to a level of no return. Remember, you can only give when your cup is full.
Tip #2: Outsource
Good old outsourcing!
Outsourcing doesn’t mean that we always need to look for help outside. But there is a greater problem when we outsource to family. Things don’t get done the way you do it, when it needs to be done or sometimes never.
How do you solve this?
I’ve shared many tips on blogs and podcasts, but all I’m going to say here is that “YOU NEED TO LET IT GO”. Sorry for the caps, but I cannot highlight enough the importance of letting go. And, I know how hard it can be.
If it’s someone’s responsibility to do the laundry, and it doesn’t get done, don’t go ahead and do it. Let it be. If your hands get itchy, maybe only do your laundry.
Do you think the laundry will be done when there is no underwear? I bet it will happen.
Tip #3: It’s ok to love yourself more
When you have self-compassion, only then can you be truly present for others. This is so true for everyone, especially women. Often, women tend to give more than they receive because we are natural nurturers. Even if we try hard, we can’t hold back (and that’s beside the point of this article).
Initially, when we set boundaries, it works well. Slowly, it creeps on us – other people’s chores become ours and before we realise, we are back to square one. Back to frustration!
How do you catch yourself?
The key is to pay attention to your feelings and emotions. If you often feel frustrated or annoyed or angry or tired, take time to introspect – for me, journaling works. I pour out my thoughts and ask questions. Sometimes, I get the answers, sometimes it is just venting. It may always not be about something external, maybe you need to get your body checked.
I experienced this a few years ago. I was tired before noon every single day. It took me a few months, before I realised this was not normal. Throughout my life, I’ve known myself as someone who is motivated intrinsically. But those few months, when I got tired a few hours after waking up, it was super hard. I finally went to my GP, got blood tests done and that’s when I realised the reason for my tiredness – my iron levels were super low. The doctor was surprised that I was even functioning. It took me several weeks to get my iron levels up. It was a really good feeling to be back, full of energy in my body. Nowadays, I take my supplements regularly.
So, next time you feel the urge to do something that is not your task, catch yourself when the thought arises. What is making you approach this task? If it’s boredom, go do something you love (sing, paint, dance, walk, gardening or do nothing). If it’s the urge to get it done quickly, let it happen in its own time. If it’s the thought of it’ll never be done, surprise yourself by removing yourself from that situation, for all essential things will be done.
I can assure you this is not being selfish. You just need to love yourself enough, to even try. This is about being a good leader – one who has the clarity to know that people are capable enough and to let them rise to their true potential.
And lastly, if you ever need to talk – reach out to me.