Hello, and thank you for joining us for the third post in this series on taking time for yourself, planning to making it happen, and today’s topic is all about boundaries and clearing away the guilt.
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.
Welcome and thanks for joining us as we continue this series.
Part of the process of flushing out the guilt is knowing yourself and setting yourself up for success.
Step 1 – Review your schedule. Take a look at your schedule and be realistic. When could you potentially do your meditation, yoga workout, or a walk to get coffee with the dog? There is a theme here about personal time connected to exercise, because it’s often something that quickly falls off the radar when we get busy. Be realistic though, can you really squeeze in a trip to the gym and groceries in 1 ½ hours.
Step 2 – Communicate and Plan. As I mentioned in my post last week, communication is vital with your partner; you need to let them know, because if they are going out of town it might mean you are running on the spot in the family room with the kids hanging off you instead of heading to the gym. When you talk with your partner, express your desire and be curious; maybe they have something they want to do as well, and maybe you can inspire each other! Really feel deserving of this time to yourself.
Step 3 – Set some Boundaries. Here is where it can be a little challenging with guilt. For instance, you have decided that you are going to make it to the hot yoga class for 4:30 straight from work, you need to be home by 6:00 to eat and get the kids organized for swimming. But at 3:00 you see the potential to push through a project you have been procrastinating on instead of heading to yoga. Remember not to disappoint yourself if you find yourself in this scenario – you deserve time away from work. I always wonder why it’s so easy for us to say no to ourselves. When you make a plan, stick to it.
Step 4 – Don’t sabotage. Once you have reviewed and planned and set some boundaries, follow though. Many of us who balance kids and activities along with some form of work often find it easier not to spend time on ourselves. For example, we stay up late and then sleep through the 6:00 am alarm and then beat ourselves up all day for not sticking to the plan. Set a bedtime routine and follow it.
Step 5 – Stay Focused. When I go to my dance class, it’s 75 minutes of focus and not thinking about anything else. Sometimes when guilt creeps up on us, we feel like we should have been doing something else, instead of what we are presently doing. And as a result, we are not focused or present. And in the end, we cannot really enjoy what we are doing, because we are not really there. Sometimes that means releasing the worry that you won’t be tucking the kids in, or see them straight after school. Take a breath, it’s okay to let your partner or a grandparent or neighbour take over and know they will be just fine without you.
Being the best version of you is important. When you have time to focus on doing something for yourself, you will be in a better space to nurture everyone around you. If you have children, you are modelling this behaviour for them. You may not think they are paying attention, but they are and for them to see you take time for yourself is fantastic.
Thanks for reading our blog. For me personally, I like to get things off my list first thing in the morning.
Is the guilt still lingering? – Join us next week for more tips on setting boundaries and saying no.
Hi, and welcome to the first post in a series about taking time for yourself.
When you describe yourself to other people, who are you? Are you someone's spouse, mom, sister, daughter, dad, brother, son? Has your spare time been taken up by chauffeur duties to shuttle your child/children to activities? Do you have time to see your spouse for a date night? Do you get to the gym as often as you'd like? Do you get out to walk the dog regularly? Do you feel like you have lost a part of yourself along the way?
Carving out some time for yourself is essential. When we don't make time for ourselves we can get cranky and resentment starts to build. We might not even recognize warning signs at first, but they can continue to grow and escalate as we continue to be all things to all people. When things start to unravel, simple requests may appear demanding, and are met with a curt response.
A lot of people talk about balance which is important, but not always possible, at least on a daily basis; I like to focus on passion. What gets you motivated? What would you like to do that isn't happening right now? Maybe it hasn't happened for years. Let's take getting to your yoga class or gym, or just getting out for a walk around the neighbourhood. Figure out when you could make that happen — possibly it's first thing in the morning, after the kids are in bed, or maybe on a lunch break. Then, use that passion to make it a priority.
Talking to your spouse or significant other is also important — share how much this means to you and why, as this can bring up feelings. It means being open, honest and vulnerable, and maybe even being accountable for some of the things that you have said or done recently. Check in with your spouse or significant other; is there something they are trying to make time for as well? Maybe they are feeling the same as you! Negotiating and supporting each other is vital as you navigate a busy life.
The potential benefits of doing something for yourself include an elevated mood and increased patience with everyone. Whether it's daily or weekly, push to make it happen!
Thanks for reading our blog - I am a spouse, mom and therapist who has a passion for dancing and baking and I try to make time for myself every week!
Next time: Getting rid of the guilt
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