One of the biggest struggles I am seeing in the career and business moms I work with is the struggle to keep work and family time separate. There is this perpetual need to set up clear boundaries. There is a belief that you, somehow, need to maintain clear boundaries.
Back in the day (and I mean pre-2020) we had clear boundaries… We had work hours; generally between 8am and 5pm, and home hours; everything outside of work.
Kids went to school and we went to work. Or worked from home. But either way there were clear boundaries in time for working and for being with home chores.
But 2020 has happened and home-schooling is thing. Having kids interrupt Zoom meetings is a reality. So is children demanding snacks just as you have sat down to reply to the 1000 emails that have built up over the last half an hour.
The kids are here in the work time and the work time is existing in the home time. It is a mess. There are no clear boundaries.
The biggest mistake most career and business moms are making right now: Believing that there is some way of getting that separation back. I see them feeling stretched thin as they continue to try separate work and home life.
It is not possible. Give up the fight. You cannot separate these right now.
The more we try to resist the current state of affairs, the more difficult it becomes. It makes for a tired and depleted mother at the end of the day – fighting a battle that is lost most of the time. With nothing more to give, you aren’t available to your kids when they ask to spend some time with you. You feel tapped out.
Perhaps you have become more irritable than usual and snap at the kids more often. And work doesn’t necessarily benefit either, right? Feeling distracted and simply not putting in the energy you expect of yourself, which often results in berating yourself for not doing a good enough job.
It is no wonder so many working moms are feeling burnt out, depressed and even a little hopeless.
What we resist, persists. This is a fact.
A Different Way of Doing Things
We could try leaning into the situation a little more. Practicing some acceptance for all that is difficult and working with what we have in this moment.
Now is the time to let up on yourself and be realistic about what it is you can achieve in your work hours. Have the conversation with your manager, your partner, yourself if you need to, and set an agenda that is achievable given the circumstances.
But more importantly, what if creating boundaries was more about creating clear boundaries in ourselves, than in our external world?
Creating Clear Boundaries In Ourselves
In this sense we can set clear boundaries around our own expectations of ourselves.
You see when we get clear on how we want to be showing up at this time then we can be clear about how we will go about achieving that.
Ask yourself what is important to you right now? What is missing for you? What do you need to feel better about who you are being in this moment?
I guarantee the answer to these questions does not include creating separation. It will likely include answers such as “My kids’ stability and wellbeing is important to me right now” or “my business goals are important right now as this will allow more financial freedom”.
What could be missing? Perhaps real time and connection with your kids is missing. Or you are needing some support in achieving your business goals.
What would you need to feel better? Being more present. Showing up with patience. Experiencing gratitude for your business opportunities…
Living in Alignment
When you have found answers to those questions then you are able to look at what needs to be implemented for yourself right now.
If your family is your focus right now then perhaps you need to say “no” to additional work tasks right now.
If your business is the focus, then maybe you need to give yourself a little grace to say “no” to your kids without feeling guilty?
Clear boundaries for yourself could also include creating time for practicing self-care so that you have the energy required to meet the needs and expectations of your work and family life.
Clear boundaries in yourself include knowing your own limits and how much you can offer to those around you right now. It means being brave in asking for help when you need it and honouring your own needs from time to time.
The fact is that when you are showing up in a way that feels good and aligned with your values then everything else tends to fall into place.
Leaning into this process means showing acceptance and acceptance creates lee-way and softens the pressure we place on ourselves.
When we don’t have so much pressure on ourselves, we inevitably feel better.
Happy moms have energy…to work, to play, to be available.
Being Present & Creating Grace
So the idea that you need to separate work and family right now may be the very thing causing undue stress. Shift focus to the clear boundaries you can create for yourself and work towards acting in alignment with your values.
This is a difficult time and it calls for compassion and acceptance.
Being present with our moments, intentional with the way we show up, helps us to live in more alignment.
So when the kids interrupt the zoom calls or the emails interrupt dinner time, you can practice patience, acceptance and most of all, grace.