So, this year I kept seeing the word ‘boundaries’ pop up everywhere, which initiated a huge inner process of learning about and applying them in my everyday life.
A few weeks back, when I was in some big energetic turmoil (I’m talking feeling wiped out on a daily basis) I picked up the book by Nedra Glover Tawwab that I will link below, and things changed for me.
One part struck out for me in particular about feeling exhausted in the time and the correlation of porous boundaries.
I had never thought about it this way before! When you have more energy for you, you have more positive energy for your kids. Energy flows.
What are boundaries then?
Taken from the book by Nedra Glover Tawwab ‘Set Boundaries, Find Peace‘, she describes boundaries to be ‘Expectations and needs that help you feel safe and comfortable in your relationships’.
However, it’s hard to know how to know what those needs are, especially when you’ve been a habitual people pleaser or you put others before you often, which often happens as moms.
‘A good mom means family first’
A common phrase used among moms, is that they put their family/kids/husband before themselves, because if they were a priority, it would be selfish.
The problem lies that when we get into the habit of serving others, it’s harder to come into contact with our own feelings, wants and needs. You need to have time and space as a mother to come back to centre, listen to your body and understand what it’s asking from you.
Now I know that this is easier said than done and time alone can be hard to come by, especially for those solo parents out there or partners who are away from home often. But you can do simple breathwork or stretching in such a short space of time.
Here are some quick hacks to come back into your body and observe the sensations:
- Random movement – intuively moving the body how it feels it needs
- Calm breathing – in through the nose and out through the mouth using 4-4-4
- Shaking your body to regain sensation and release tension
- Unclenching your jaw
- Doing a body scan to feel where in your body you feel good
My Own Process with Boundaries
So the first thing I did was to just sit back and observe myself and my interactions with others.
I observed myself with:
Putting my relationships into categories gave me clarity and allowed me to able to treat each one individually.
It was very interesting to explore – I knew that I had trouble expressing myself from a young age, understanding what I was comfortable with and when to say no.
I needed to get in touch with how I felt. When you’ve been doing things for and pleasing others for such a long time, you lose sight of yourself. So my next step was to observe my own feelings.
I do this by feeling where I feel tightness or open in my body. When it feels like I have a lump in my throat, when my belly gets sore, when I feel anger rise in my chest from nowhere… identifying where in the body I was feeling the feelings, helps me understand the origin better.
I started to recognise the patterns in which I’d fall into due to the bodily response.
My body showed me where my limits are.
Where I was feeling tested.
Why was I feeling tested? What was out of sync?
Where I felt the most tested
I do still work on my boundaries with my coparent now that we’re separated and see each other every week to exchange the kids. From the beginning, I didn’t want a cold back and forth situation for them, so I worked on holding a respectful and agreeable feeling, whilst knowing where to draw the line.
Surprisingly though, when I looked at the categories – one that came through the most was the boundaries I have with my kids. Granted, mine are still very young at the moment, but I realised that this was also the perfect opportunity to start implementing them more around what I’m comfortable with.
Here are some examples of boundaries with my kids I since got a little tough on:
- I avoid the use of glitter in my house because the aftermath bothers me
- I ask the kids to help me set/clear the table
- I state when I am not ready for a cuddle and allow them to do the same
- I explain that I need mummy time after their bedtime and how filling my cup allows them to be more kind and patient with them (this I mainly explained to my eldest)
- I don’t allow water play unless in the bath (it gets very dirty easily, another trigger for me)
You will hav different ones according to what works for your family, take a pen and paper and write some down that would help you.
Getting comfortable around decision making
When you become more confident in your boundary setting, you will find that you feel guilty afterwards – did I phrase that the right way? Am I right for taking that distance? Is it okay for me to ask for that?
This is completely normal.
Boundaries also mean you have to get comfortable with the decisions that you make and learn to be at peace with them.
This is never an easy feat, but the more you practice the more you will understand that you did the best you could with what was present for you then.
The guilt often comes from the thinking that boundaries = being mean. I actually uncovered that I became more kind after doing this work.
Boundaries I personally implemented:
-Talked to my almost four year old about my own boundaries and filling my cup, aka leaving mummy to have time alone after her bedtime
-Started to make more of the decisions in my co-parenting relationship rather than waiting for him to take the lead and then have built up resentment
-Understand that I can’t do it all alone anymore the weight is too heavy, so hire a childminder for the youngest two days a week
– Work on the imbalance between work and family time (in my case the balance tipped over heavily in my time invested in my kids, which I wasn’t enjoying anymore)
– I have a tendency to over schedule myself – becoming highly ambitious about the amount of projects I can take on at once so using discernment to understand what is beneficial for me right now
What I learned from work with boundaries
We often think we’re being aggressive when stating our needs but actually I felt more kind and loving, because I wasn’t giving from a place of guilt. I was giving from my heart. So much so it felt merely an extension of myself.
I found boundaries difficult because I have a generous nature and I thought they would take that away but they actually strengthened it. The more I was limiting people and things that drained me, the more energy I had for people who are special to me in my life – such as my kids.
How You can Start with Boundaries
There are numerous ways that you can start with work around boundaries, but the process I just walked you through is a good start.
I use different tools in my coaching practice that allow you to gain insight on which areas in your life need more and less attention and I guide you to finding what works for you.
Also some exercises you can do:
- Write a list of two columns what you want to see more and less of in your life.
- Map out your values and ask yourself if you’re living in accordance to them.
- Get into your body often and feel what’s going on for you.
Sometimes it’s enough to work through this yourself, but if you do feel like you need a little gentle guidance, just click the link above and get access to how I coach, for free.
Hope you enjoyed this article and you stick around 🙂