When I adopted my girls around 11 years ago I thought I was just going to take 6 months off my corporate high level job until they settled in and went to school. The social workers told us these girls just needed firm boundaries and I thought,
I can do firm boundaries!
I’d spent years keeping the Directors and Senior Managers in line and on track with everything from business transformations to high level meetings. I thought firm boundaries meant that we I just needed to be clear on what were the rules and timeframes. How wrong I was!
The girls needed to learn so much about the things we take for granted. So much so, that I ended up taking a much longer time off, only to eventually leave my beloved job altogether.
In short, I ended up retraining as a mindset coach and hypnotherapist. Now that I’m running my own business I really began to see where the boundaries needed to be and how important it was to get them in place.
In corporate world, I just worked until I was done (or until everyone else was in the pub). I was used to grabbing food on go, and pretty much being ‘on call’. I couldn’t do that with these two children to look after. It was a whole new way of living that I needed.
When I set up my business I needed to ensure that I was still available for the girls when they needed it. They’d never had anyone else they could rely on, so I needed to change that!
Setting the Hours
I began by working just a couple of days a week, within the school hours. So my availability was very strictly between 9.30 and 2.30pm. The only exception to that was one day a week when I would go back to my therapy room in the evening (once my husband got home) so that I could see clients later. It made sense. I paid for the room for the full day, I might as well get good use out of it. My clients were happy I was accommodating them in the evening, I had the opportunity to earn a bit more and it fitted with childcare and family life. That was definitely a win!
Screen the Calls
The next important thing was to screen all my calls. I remember being away with the family for a short break. Hubby answered my mobile and then came to me saying, they want some therapy. I took the enquiry call. I then realised I had to teach my husband about my boundaries.
“I don’t actually answer my phone when it rings you know!”
He was surprised until I explained that each potential enquiry call could be at least 15 minutes long. If I wasn’t sure that I had that time, I didn’t answer. It didn’t matter how inquisitive I was, or even how much I needed the business, if I didn’t recognise the number, I didn’t answer. I couldn’t be taking calls and juggling screaming or demanding kids. So that needed firmly set boundaries that everyone was clear on.
Owning My Diary
There were certain times of the year when the kids really didn’t manage well. It was usually when there was change or disruption, like new school year, Christmas, anniversary of things. On these times they might often be off school because of fear or anxiety or general struggle. It’s common for adoptive kids. Instead of fighting this or trying to juggle too much, I would recognise these times and often could just put a line through my diary. No point setting appointments when there was a high risk I would have to change them because the kids didn’t get to school. So I took ownership of these times. Putting a line through my appointments and telling clients “I don’t have availability that day” was all I needed to say. I don’t have to explain why. I could have been away or on a training course or anything. No-one ever asked why I wasn’t available. Keeping this boundary meant that managing the stressful or difficult times was much easier. The recovery was faster. It’s something I recommend to a lot of my clients too!
The big lesson I learnt really was that boundaries are not just about rules or timings. They are very much about us getting comfortable with what we are doing and why we do it. Getting over the need to please people or to be super flexible and accommodating — in the diary or when answering the phone — means we are so much more effective when we set those boundaries. There’s not worry or guilt afterwards. We set boundaries for good reason, because we need to do it and we shift our mindset to feel comfortable about it.
If I had never adopted, I would still be rocking the corporate world of long hours, lots of expectation. Bringing my girls home and re-arranging our lives to meet their needs meant I had to do a lot of self development and some massive mindset shifts. I now know that healthy boundaries are not just what I needed to do, but they also about setting expectation and guidelines for others. When we are clear on our boundaries and comfortable in stating them, they really can work incredibly well.
If you want information on how I can help you set healthy boundaries in your life book a call here and lets chat!
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