The first part of being able to do something for ourselves without the cloud of guilt hanging over us is the need to feel deserving of that time, that it is ours to spend. It’s hard to maintain healthy boundaries when we are not feeling deserving or entitled to have some “me” time. Many of us have a hard time setting boundaries and more importantly, saying “no”. Have you ever said “yes” to something, but inside you were thinking and feeling like saying “no”? As I mentioned in last week’s post, we often find ourselves in the predicament where we have volunteered for the school craft sale for example, but are really wishing to be at the lecture with the author we find so inspiring. As a result, we can find that we are not present and fully participating and enjoying what we are doing; instead we are resentful or distracted.
The other layer to this is that we then may even beat ourselves up, wishing we could have spoke up and said “no” instead of always agreeing. Take it easy on yourself, we have all been in that situation before. Ask yourself what prevented you from saying “no”. Did you feel you needed to make up a big excuse, or that other parents would expect that you would volunteer – because you always do? It is okay to say “no”, and you don’t have to make excuses - period. Being aware of why you find it challenging to maintain that boundary is helpful. Give it a try sometime. Take a pause, or better yet when you are asked to take on something additional that you feel you just cannot do, tell the person you will think about it and get back to them. Don’t feel pressured if you are caught off guard at 5:29 doing the last-minute daycare pickup before running to soccer practice. Boundaries: they are essential. When you can take time to think about it, you can be realistic and recognize how easy or difficult it will be to fit in the request of your time, and what it will mean to your schedule. When you make a decision, it is solid, and not rushed or feeling pressured.
Once you have set the boundary – enjoy yourself! Really dig in and absorb your activity; whether it’s coffee with your friend from high school or just being able to watch your child’s hockey game without interruptions from your phone. Be there. Breathe. It’s okay not to be multi-tasking. Guilt sets in when we feel we should be doing something else, and sometimes it’s attached to productivity. When we feel we said “no” to one request, it seems to ramp up our need to shift gears regardless of whatever we were intending to do, and be extra productive. Quiet time is important too, instead of just going on that hamster wheel all day long. Remind yourself you are deserving, and it is critical that we take time for ourselves to re-charge. As I mentioned last week, remember your children are watching you and learning the behaviour you are modelling. Teaching your kids that it’s okay to say “no” is a vital skill, as well as taking a break for yourself, which is something you want them to see you doing so they can feel deserving of it when they get older.
Thanks for joining us again. For me, I have learned that being on the hamster wheel all the time is no fun and I take time to consider what it will really mean if I say “yes”.
Join us next week as we continue this series and look at the proud badge of being busy and how some mindfulness can help slow us down.