Colleague: “Do you have 10 minutes to help me check something?”
You: “Sure, let’s take a look.” You end up spending an hour helping your colleague.
Later that evening, your child: “Mom, can we watch a movie/play a game/build a puzzle together tonight?”
You: “No, I need to catch up on work.”
Does this sound familiar? It is time for you to do a mental audit. How often have you said no to your child or family versus the number of times you have said no at work? We get it; it is your livelihood, but it is not healthy, and it is affecting your wellness and your productivity.
The boundary between your professional and personal lives was already starting to blur thanks to technology and connectedness, but the pandemic came along and blew that scenario out of the water. Working moms were working remotely, spending hours in back-to-back Zoom meetings with very few breaks in between. After the pandemic, this became the norm, and women were unable to set healthy boundaries at work.
Here is a breakdown of mental, emotional and physical boundaries, and tips maintain them:
This means protecting your mental energy and applying it to the things that matter. Whenever you experience an interruption, solve someone else’s problem, or attend an unnecessary meeting, you waste valuable focus you could direct elsewhere.
Working moms protect their mental boundaries by:
- Set and stick to your working hours, even if you’re working from home
- Work with your boss to get clarity on organisational, team, and individual priorities
- Decline meetings where your presence doesn’t add value or is not necessary
- Turn off social media, messaging, and work email notifications while you’re doing work that requires intense focus
- Use your leave to disconnect and enjoy time off
Your physical boundaries involve anything concerning your body, physical health, or space. If someone or something encroaches on these boundaries, they’re crossing a line regarding your comfort and safety.
Here are ways to maintain your physical boundaries:
- Offer handshakes instead of hugs
- Turn off your webcam during online meetings when you need to
- Take sick days and mental health days when you need them, with only as much explanation as is required by your company policy
- Set and take a lunch break; don’t eat at your desk
Setting emotional boundaries means separating your emotions from others. This requires you to identify your emotions in real-time and understand the alternatives. It’s a skill that demands self-awareness and the courage to show up for yourself when someone else is making demands. This is not always easy, but skills you can develop with time.
Here are some situations that involve protecting emotional boundaries:
- If your colleague is having an outburst, don’t involve yourself
- Not internalising unjustified anger, blame, or disappointment from someone else
- Communicating to your boss how you prefer to receive feedback
- Delivering negative feedback to a team member with professionalism
- Communicating with your team about your preferred working and communication style
- Not letting work setbacks or someone else’s venting change your outlook
Being consistent with your boundaries is key to thriving as a working mom. Setting mental, physical, and emotional boundaries is a form of self-care and self-respect. Communicating your needs will help you protect your work-life integration and mental health.
Almost one hundred percent of our staff are working moms at RecruitMyMom and we prioritise healthy boundaries to promote employee wellness.
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Tips for preventing burnout in working moms