Balance and boundaries are so intertwined for me that I have put them together in this post. Though I am sure I will elaborate on both of these things more in future posts as they are so important to staying true to yourself.
It is hard to find balance with all the things we have to do daily. I have had days where I just did not want to adult (yes, that's a verb). I have even kept the kids home from school because I could not face driving in LA traffic (I know right?!). Some days you just need to stay in bed with the covers over your head and not be. Not be mom, not be wife, not be friend...
When we first moved to LA a few years back I was having so many of these days. Luckily the kids were barely in school and so keeping them home every once in a while was fine and when hubby could he would drive and pick up but it was hard on everyone. Now, I'm not talking about depression here which is a very real thing and one that should be addressed. If you think you or a loved one may be depressed please seek help. I am referring to that feeling of overwhelmed, exhausted, tapped out...
There was a time in my life when I would jump at the slightest "need". I would cancel work, hop on a plane, cancel my plans to help anyone who asked. I was the dependable one, the one everyone could count on to be there at a moments notice. It was exhausting. I did however have a sense of being the good daughter, the good niece, the good sibling, the good friend. What I wasn't was good to myself. The only person I didn't look out for was me? Now don't get me wrong, I don't regret caring for my loved ones. I certainly would not change the week I spent in hospice with my godfather or give up the time spent in the hospital with my mom when she needed me but there are other important parts of my life that got neglected over time. I dropped everything to help everyone and I ended up so drained that I wasn't helping anyone. Over the years I have learned some valuable lessons about staying in your integrity (being completely true to yourself) and creating boundaries. One of my very best friends and one of the strongest women I know does not make excuses or give explanations. If she does not want to do something or can't or is not up for it she simply says "no".
"No is a complete sentence" she says.
Guess what, she is right. You do not owe anyone any explanations and you certainly should not have to make excuses to anyone about anything. Not about how you spend your time, not about what you do with your body, not about the choices you make, not ANYTHING.
Do not do things you do not want to do. Stay in your integrity and say no. I get it, there are things that you simply need to do or need to get done; we all have obligations. Have you REALLY thought about which of the things on your list you have to do and which things you FEEL like you have to do?
I for example, create boundaries by not hanging out with friends if I don't want to. I also do not do floors. I hate cleaning floors beyond belief so I have found a way around it. Hubby bought a robot vacuum and he or the kids will mop when it's due and vacuum the corners and do stuff the robot can't reach.
It took me a while to let it go, at first, I would pester hubby that they were due but eventually when he said "so do them" I realized that I had to let it go. Now I hardly see the dirt on the floors unless we have people coming over and in that case, I don't seem to mind picking up a broom, a mop or the vacuum. Funny how that works eh? (I'm Canadian if you hadn't guessed by that blatant EH).
I am also a member of a roller derby league. A big part of participating in a league like ours is volunteer work and training a certain amount of times per week. The practices are late and as a morning person I find this hard. I adhere to the volunteer work as much as possible and I have a deal with the league that I practice once a week. As a result I do not play on any of the travel teams. I still get to be on my skates doing something I love but on mutually agreeable terms.
In fact, I have a whole list of things I do not do. A Not to-do list if you will (thanks to the ladies at the Radiance Retreat for that one). Or as my coach Denise says (yes, coaches need coaches too) a F%#@-it list.
I do NOT do:
-Floors - as established above.
-Windows - my kids actually love playing with the spray bottle and then cleaning it up
-Emptying the dishwasher - we put most of the dishes down low in a cupboard that the kids can reach so they can set the table and put them away and the glasses they leave on the counter for an adult to do.
-Cleaning the stock pot or cast iron - no thanks!
-PTA meetings - This is a hard line for me, you will not find me on a fundraising committee or at a PTA meeting. I'll help out but I will not sit through meetings to organize events.
-Toilets - I will however, pop a little scrubby bleach tab in the tank monthly.
-Putting duvet covers on duvets - I hate that most of all!
-Gardening - I love plants but they hate me because I forget about them so I have given it up. I'd love to grow fresh veggies but it's off to the farmers market for me.
Now obviously there are things on this list that someone has to do as many of them are household chores and would result in poor sanitary conditions but I do the ones I don't mind doing and my partner and kids do the ones I hate but they don't mind doing (if it's within your budget you can also hire out).
I DO do:
-Small dishes that don't go in the dishwasher - like wooden spoons.
-Meal planning/prep - I actually enjoy the process of planning our meals, especially dinner. I feel it gives me a sense of freedom from the "what's for dinner?" stress during the week.
-Groceries sometimes - hubby is way better than I am at this. I think the produce knows about my black thumb.
-Laundry - I actually don't mind washing it or folding it or putting it away.
-Making the bed - because I like when my room looks all tidy though to be fair this is one that could be dropped all together and there was a time we just didn't make the bed unless we thought other people were going to be seeing our room (hint, close the door).
-Picking up and dropping off the kids at school and activities - I usually listen to a podcast on the alone trips and then the ones where the kids are in the car are a really good time for us to connect, rock out and talk about our days before we get going on the evening routine of homework, dinner...
So consider for a moment some of the things you may be able to not do. Is there a meeting or a coffee date that you are not up for? Is there a party or a committee you could skip? Maybe its as simple as buying a coffee machine with a timer so you wake up to fresh coffee rather than having to wait for it. Get creative and see, you may be surprised at some of the things you can let go of.
Think it over and let me know.
P.S. Here is a great video by Brene Brown about creating boundaries.