I’m a working mom and I love it. But walking in the door after a gruelling day at work, only to be pummelled by a raging toddler, demanding whatever shred of energy and attention I have left is definitely a downside.
That cute little mucus machine doesn’t care one bit about how my day went. The concept of boundaries means nothing to him. He’s just so happy to see me.
And so, I hit the ground running: make dinner, squeeze in some playtime, feed the toddler, answer random “why” questions from my kindergartener…
But then it starts:
The whining: “Why does he get more potatoes than meeeee!?!?!?”
The fussiness: *CRASH* My toddler’s dinner, once on his plate, is now a work of modern art splattered all over the floor.
The demands for MORE of me: “Mommy, I want ketchup.” “Mommy, can I have a popsicle for dessert?” “Mama, UP.”
And there I am, hanging off the cliff that is my breaking point, desperately trying to hold on until bedtime. But it’s no good. I can’t hold on any longer, and I fall.
Too often my evenings looked exactly like this, and I bet yours look pretty similar, don’t they babe?
I get it. The concept of setting boundaries between myself and my kids seemed so very wrong. I mean, I signed on for this, right? I like being a working mom, right? So why can’t I keep my shit together when I get home from work?!
You know what? I found the answer. Come on in close and I’ll tell you, babe….a little closer….
Because I’m a human being, hon.
They say that a lack of boundaries breeds a lack of respect, so just like setting boundaries with our grown-up peers, (learning to say no, leaving work at work, taking breaks when you need them, etc.) it’s important to set those boundaries at home with your family too.
Now I use the five strategies below myself with my kids and it’s very rare that I ever slip off the edge of my sanity anymore. NO KIDDING! Take a peek and pick the ones that will work for you and your family.
Kick that Mom-Guilt to the curb!
Most of us would rather run ourselves ragged than dip one single toe into the vast ocean that is Mom Guilt. But please believe me mama, when I say you WILL reach your breaking point; that line where Mommy goes from happy, fun and awesome, to irritated, nasty and angry.
And what happens then, babe? The yelling happens. The crying, the discipline and inevitably…the MOM GUILT you were trying to avoid in the first place.
But you can get ahead of that guilt, hon. When you walk in the door from a really hard day at work, communicate that to your family. Tell them you need a few minutes to decompress, and afterwards, you’re all theirs. Push the guilt aside and enjoy those few minutes to yourself. It’ll help you make that transition from one job to the other.
Say No to playtime.
You heard me! It is absolutely OK to say no to playtime, babe. You are a grown-up with (you guessed it) BOUNDARIES; grown-up needs that playing My Little Ponies for two hours just won’t fill.
And I know you’re saying, “Oh yeah? Well you don’t have to deal with the temper tantrum that will follow if I do say no to playing with my kid…what then?”
I get that too. I was the end-all, be-all when it came to my daughter’s entertainment. She never wanted to play with Daddy, only Mommy. So yeah, I endured a few epic tantrums and pouting sessions to claim a few moments of sanity so I could function.
Did I feel bad about it? Meh, maybe a little, but I know myself, and I’m a much better playmate when I’ve had some grown-up time to replenish my energy. The pro’s outweigh the cons.
Sit your little one down and tell them as many times as it takes that you are a better mom when you are rested, just like they are happier when they’re not tired or hungry.
If they won’t wait, set the timer on the microwave for fifteen minutes of play, then take ten minutes for yourself, or do whatever needs to be done. The idea is to say no for your own sake instead of always for theirs.
Let the kids do their own thing.
One of the greatest skills a child can learn is how to entertain and rely on themselves as a playmate, and it’s an ideal strategy for setting boundaries for yourself.
These days, moms are bombarded with enough kid crafts to choke a sock puppet, and most of them need a grown-up to help.
Now, I don’t pretend to not have spent a wad of cash at Michael’s on some Pinterest craft that popped up in my feed. We all have (don’t deny it babe:))
But more often than not, those activities turned into me trying to make the “art thing” look just like the picture I saw online, instead of letting my daughter take control.
Nodding your head, aren’tcha!
Grab a cheap colouring book and some trusty crayons, a couple of pencils and some blank paper, maybe even some Play-Doh, if you’re really brave and let their imagination run wild.
The point is, you do not have to be involved in every single learning experience, in every fine motor activity or in every creative art project in your child’s development.
You’ve shown them how to start, now sit back and chill out. Enjoy every sip of that glass of wine and see what they can create all by themselves. Bet they’ll surprise you, babe! Have those fridge magnets ready 🙂
Get buy-in from the kids and Your Spouse.
This one is a big one for our family, and it’s mostly based on the fact that your family cannot read your mind.
They have no idea how hard your day was, so if you don’t let them know that you’re in rough shape, when you eventually do explode, they have NO idea why, babe; they can’t read your mind.
Call a family meeting and explain to all of them that you’ve been feeling extra exhausted lately and you need some extra time to take care of yourself.
Come up with a few strategies together to help you make that happen. Your kids know that Mommy takes care of them when they’re not feeling well; they’ll want to help return the favour, and you need to trust in that.
Ask for help before you need it.
Keep your energy stores at a balanced level by asking for help BEFORE you need it.
Think about it. If you get home to a disaster of a house and try to clean it up yourself, while trying to do a dozen other things, what chance do you have of being in any sort of good mood for the rest of the night?
Round up the troops to help you stave off the overwhelm. Ask both your spouse and the kids to help. They all have two hands. Time to put those toys away and the dirty laundry into the baskets.
You’re teaching your kids that it’s just not cool for one member of the family to keep everything running smoothly. Eventually that member will reach their breaking point. And why is that again? Right, because you’re a human being.
So don’t be afraid of setting those boundaries, babe.
I know it might feel like you’re neglecting your motherly instincts, but it really is one of the best ways to keep yourself balanced. Give a few of these strategies a shot, and I know you’ll start to see fewer bad moods at the front door and way more of the Mommy your kids know and love.
Have you picked up your Daily Self-Care Checklist?
WHAT?! Dude, you’re missing out!
Download it here to start carving out some quality time for yourself.
Thanks so much for reading,