Self-Care Is the First Thing to Go in a Crisis

Nearly 400* parents shared anonymously how the pandemic is affecting their lives. This is the first in a series of updates with results.

“With the lack of childcare, I have no time to work or take care of our apartment. I earn a lot less than my husband and work for myself in an industry that has slowed down, so I have taken on the vast majority of the extra childcare and schooling. With only one kid and a small apartment with no yard, this feels like a full-time job! I love parts of it but would enjoy it more if I got breaks. The timeline is overwhelming.”

“My son is 3 and he DESPERATELY misses school and doing things with us. Both my husband and I work full time and cannot take shifts. We feel like terrible parents and terrible employees. For 14 hours a day. Every day. There is no break, nothing to look forward to, no sanity.”

We’re responding to epic change while doing more of everything. There’s more housework, childcare and involvement in activities for our kids. And more required to stabilize our work, families and communities. When the pandemic disrupted life, we didn’t know how long it would last. So, we eliminated self-care to make space for the added responsibilities. Unfortunately, COVID19 is just one of many threats to our wellbeing.

Caregivers lack predictable discretionary time. So, establishing habits to support our mental and physical health, can take years. In this crisis, it’s hard to even think about self-care but it’s critical to manage the stress that also harms our health. Most (61%) surveyed Moms report doing ‘terribly’ or ‘not as well as usual’ caring for themselves.

The Pressure is Unforgiving

When asked ‘what’s been the hardest?’ in this pandemic the list of concerns is long and varied. Moms worry about everything from their own Continue reading “Self-Care Is the First Thing to Go in a Crisis”

What Happens in Your Marriage When You Try to Set Personal Boundaries?

Coupled Moms who try to set limits get different reactions. However most experience extremes. They are either, rewarded with stronger connection or penalized with passive aggression, from their partners.

How does setting boundaries with your partner affect the relationship? Nearly 200 coupled Moms responded to this question anonymously. The results? Like everything-married-life, it’s complicated. Positive outcomes only slightly outpace negative ones for surveyed Moms. Trying to protect time and energy by renegotiating expectations with your spouse, gets tricky.

“It’s hard to ask for time for myself. When I do ask, even after a full day at work and taking care of the house and kids, I feel like my partner isn’t supportive. Even if he’s not doing anything productive himself. It makes me resentful.”

One surveyed Mom’s response

Did you understand how marriage would change after kids? Right. Few people do. Hours of togetherness become little scraps of Continue reading “What Happens in Your Marriage When You Try to Set Personal Boundaries?”

Wondering How to Honor Your Values With Better Boundaries?

Use Design Thinking as a Tool to Prioritize Your Values

Pre-kids, self-care and personal growth fit into our ‘spare time.’ That extra space between activities. Perhaps after work and life’s other obligations. Post-kids, there is no extra space anymore, we have to make it. To make it, we must set boundaries.

Intellectually we understand this but working it into real life is different. After sharing results from the Personal Boundaries survey April Seifert, Entrepreneur, Psychologist and Supermom, took a group of us through a ‘Design Your Life For Values Based Boundaries’ webinar that blends the best of design thinking with psychology. Moms are hungry for more space. Why is making it so difficult? Just like assembling sippy cups, Pokémon® rules and the afterschool calendar, we must learn.

Does Your Calendar Reflect Your Values?

Moms generally power through the lists of ‘shoulds’ like machines. We ensure our families are well cared for and cut corners for ourselves. Relaxation is a foreign land we never visit. Protecting some time to take care of ourselves, when there isn’t any extra, means Continue reading “Wondering How to Honor Your Values With Better Boundaries?”

Is The Myth of ‘Having it All’ Hurting Our Work/Life Boundaries?

Work. Is. Different.

“I generally prioritize my family and work over myself,” admits one surveyed Mom. “I am the breadwinner … and turn myself inside out at work to try to keep my standing there. Then I come home and want as much time as I can have with my kids. And there’s little time left for me. I feel like my kids are little once and I can’t get the time with them back.”

Nearly 200 Moms shared their struggles, triumphs and feelings in the survey about setting personal boundaries. The context and consequences for drawing lines at work are different. Somewhere in the back of our minds, despite grim statistics about the motherhood penalty, we believe there’s a loophole. We were promised life without limits, and want to prove to ourselves that being great Moms while doing Continue reading “Is The Myth of ‘Having it All’ Hurting Our Work/Life Boundaries?”

How Can Moms Set Boundaries Without Feeling Guilty? 

Six strategies to move past the dreaded mom-guilt

“…I realized I was a puppet. I tried to not hurt (others) feelings, but often mine were hurt…”

“… I’m a people pleaser by nature and I don’t want to disappoint. I’m better at meeting outer expectations versus inner.”

Moms already suffer from external pressure. Yet, we compound it, by poisoning our choices with self-doubt. Why do we feel so guilty about our decisions? Nearly 200 Moms responded to the Personal Boundaries survey and 12% said, guilt associated with trying to please or meet other people’s expectations, is what makes it hard to set healthy boundaries. As one surveyed Mom shared, “I struggle with this. I often do what pleases others, then feel resentful.”

I asked Dr. Ramani Durvasula, a Psychologist, Professor, Author, Supermom and Jedi-boundary-setter, about how we can conquer the emotional conflicts that surface when setting limits. She did not hold back with her candid and thoughtful observations!

Stare Down Resentment

Many of Ramani’s patients are parents. She said, “People feel guilty about putting resentment and kids in the same sentence.” So true! The Mom-role is among the most time-starved yet Continue reading “How Can Moms Set Boundaries Without Feeling Guilty? “

If Setting Better Boundaries Can Improve Your Life, Why Don’t You?

“I think part of the problem is that I hardly have any boundaries. I’ve given up eating, sleeping, showering on a regular basis just to maintain work and family. Forget self-care, tv, movies, reading or seeing friends. No time!”

“I’m not sure what to say about this… I don’t know that I have rules for myself at home, other than the ‘alone time’ trigger, which is less a rule than an escape clause…”

What rules do you set to protect your time? What routines help you keep commitments, to yourself, and others? In an anonymous survey, nearly 200 Moms shared their experiences setting, modifying (and yes, ignoring) their personal boundaries. We spend so much energy navigating external boundaries, the barriers between what we have and want, that we forget to erect our own. Protective ones.

Strong personal boundaries are the answer to over-do and never-done. The tenuous states of anxiety most Moms call home. We fritter from must-do to have-to and rarely make space to think. Practicing regular self-care, or just relaxing, begins to feel impossible. It’s scary when the life we wanted doesn’t leave room for what we need. We do it for our children, partners and communities. We do it because it’s  Continue reading “If Setting Better Boundaries Can Improve Your Life, Why Don’t You?”

Can Mindfulness & Modeling With Our Kids Overcome Impatience?

Regain Presence Despite Mental Load Overwhelm

After conducting an anonymous survey with 225 Moms, to gauge how the ‘mental load’ from carrying the always-on to-do list, affects everything from careers to health and family relationships, 79% shared they experience increased anger, worry and distraction with their kids.

“…Throughout dinner and bedtime, I feel like I’m pushing my kids off, like ‘I’ll look at your picture…after I finish unloading the dishwasher,’ or ‘As soon as I’m done making your sandwich, I’ll be right there.’  All they want is my attention but I just don’t have it to give unless I want to do two hours of chores after they go to bed, which I don’t!  I try to get it all done before they go to bed…(after) I can take a shower, then sit down and rest.”

Mom Is A Utility

We preach the value of attentiveness and focus to our children. Yet unmade beds and unread messages vie for our mindshare. Constantly. In most families, Mom-energy powers everything from hugs to planning playdates…leaving little space for the trial, error or antics of childhood.

“They view me as regularly stressed… There’s really no full down time between what I need to do and the kids’ schedules.”

“I have less patience when I’m overburdened, which leads to being short tempered…and less engaged with them. I feel like I can’t stop and play Legos® or help with a craft because I have TOO MUCH TO DO!!!” Continue reading “Can Mindfulness & Modeling With Our Kids Overcome Impatience?”

Embrace The Mind-Body Connection And Boost Resiliency

We’re forced to adapt. Our kids develop new routines, needs, rapport, schedules and activities. We’re dealing with new bodies, sleep schedules, org structures, hormones, rules with our spouses…new everything. Often. Ridiculously so.

If you’re blessed with healthy children, their developmental changes are expected and (mostly) joyful. Our own career, physical and environmental changes, maybe not so much. On difficult days, it’s hard to know where the anchor is.

The ‘anchor’ can quickly become ‘the work.’ For a while. It’s easier to pick up toys at the end of the night, or email, than self-reflection or a new pursuit. It can be soothingly productive to enter a messy kitchen and emerge from a spotless one. It’s hard to ask the big unsettling questions when we’re Continue reading “Embrace The Mind-Body Connection And Boost Resiliency”

When Do You Keep Your Boundaries?

I reconnected with a friend and team-mate at the gym recently while running on neighboring treadmills. She had just returned from a work trip and shared she felt “happy to run” after a two-day absence.  Why the absence I asked?  She stayed with her in-laws and enjoyed the family visit, but missed the opportunity to workout.

That sparked a fascinating discussion about our bodies and our willingness to ‘cross’ boundaries we set for ourselves, mostly to adhere to other people’s expectations of us or comfort.

Moms often feel at the whim of everyone else’s claims to our bodies, time, attention, and energy. Why are we so willing to give up the precious little control we do have?

Where are your personal boundaries?

  • When do you stop pleasing and start protecting?
  • What are those times when to be ‘polite’ you have that piece of cake, cancel that workout, take that Friday meeting when you work Monday -Thursday …?
  • Why fill time with draining people or tasks when time is so limited?
  • When is it hard to make the best choices for ourselves? When is it easy?  What are your rules for this and why?

I would love your help putting context around how boundary setting (or lack thereof) is shaping our day to day lives.

Please take the survey, it will take less than 10 minutes of your time.

Thank you in advance for your help!

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