Why are so many of us struggling to say “No”? Is it the Brit in us that is polite and eager to please? Is it our belief that we must work ourselves in to the ground or we feel as though we are not pulling our weight? Is it because we are fearful of what others will think of us if we say no? Is it all of those and more? The answer is, yes probably.
I have worked in those places in the past where those that left at 5.30 were frowned upon. I may have even on occasion been the frowner. Did we think that because they left “early”, which was actually on time, meant that they didn’t care about the job as much as we did? Did it mean that they were not committed or that they didn’t do a good job. No it did not. It meant that they had boundaries and that they had a life outside of their work that was important to them.
This weekend, we went out for a Father’s Day dinner with my family and my Mum and Dad. It got me thinking about how hard my Dad had worked through his career. He always went to work with his briefcase and his butties and he was back at tea time in time for the 6 o’clock news. He swapped his time and knowledge for his salary. He made the leap to become a contractor later on in his career and he worked just as hard but was in control of when he worked and how. Driven by the money that he brought home to care for his family.
My mum looked after us all 24/7. No boundaries. No “off”switch. No recompense. Without Mum though, Dad couldn’t have done what he did. It was team work and how it was then.
Fast forward to my own world and my own children. There was no leaving at one time and back at another. We worked around the clock. The home was an overflow of work to the point that the kids used to say to us, can we have a night without work tonight please. The boundaries were blurred. Not having boundaries affects every aspect of your life.
As a result of my boundaries were blurred at best, as a working mum I ended up burning myself out. I tried to be absolutely everything to everyone. The best employee, the best boss, the best wife, the best mum and what was left over was a worn out shell that was no good to man nor beast.
My children now are 20 and 15 and have been used to me working or being in bed ill. They are my greatest achievement in life. I regret not having boundaries. That affected the amount of quality time that I had with them. Thankfully the last few years have been different and I am grateful that they are still happiest spending time as a family. It feels like a week ago that they were 10 and 5 and just like that we are here.