Are You Struggling With Family Boundaries?
Wondering why does my family walk all over me? Ever feel like a human doormat?
Here’s an even more painful question: Are you inviting people to walk all over you?
When I used to work as a department chair, I complained about feeling taking advantage of to another co-worker. His words stuck with me, “Remember you are a Chair not a Doormat.” It made me laugh but it was so true.
When you work from home the rules of the game change.
Stop Being a People Pleaser
This was a hard one for me. I want to see my family happy and we all like to be popular, but it can come at a price if we turn ourselves into a “people pleaser” who does everything to make others happy but seldom gets the same treatment in return. Women, in particular, are taught to be people pleasers. We are told from a very young age to act “ladylike” and that being assertive means being a b*tch (B), which means of course that no one will like you.
Nowadays, there are actually books on how to be a B, which one author defines as “Being In Total Control of Herself.” This is a nice image of a confident woman who does not let anyone push her buttons.
There are several male equivalents of being a B, but they don’t seem to bother men in the least. In fact, we are
sure they coined the phrase, “Nice guys finish last.” Switch that to nice girls and you can see why you might be getting the short end of the stick at work, and in particular at home.
Do You Have Trouble Asking for Help with Family Boundaries?
There is nothing worse than feeling taken for granted. We want to do everything we can to be a good spouse, good parent, good son or daughter, and so on. Where does all this goodness get us? A pretty good life if we are lucky, or an endless cycle of demands for more from everyone you are trying so hard to please.
If you feel as though there are never enough hours in the day and your partner and kids are doing nothing but draining you dry, it’s time to tap into your authentic inner self to start building the life of your dreams.
It will mean working on some changes, but you will be surprised at how little things can make a big difference. The first one is to stop suffering in silence. Ask for help nicely. “Can you please help me with this?” might be tough to say when have been in the role of super-person for so long, but you might be surprised at the results.
Here are a few tips that have worked for me to not feel like my family is walking all over me:
- Stop making dinner alone – Turn dinner into a group effort in preparing, setting the table, and cleaning up.
- Post a white board on your office door (or where ever you work) that says when you are not to be disturbed
- Ask everyone to pitch for a 10 Minute Tidy. If you notice your living room looks like a big mess, ask your whole family to spend 10 minutes cleaning up a portion of the house.
- Give age appropriate little jobs to children and lots of praise for completing those tasks nicely. For example, my youngest son used to love to dust the wood furniture because he made it look so nice and shiny.
- As your children get older, you can give them small tasks that help you with your business, ask for their help in caring for younger siblings, and pay them for their help.
Have You Learned How to Say No, and Mean It?
Saying no is one of the hardest things people pleasers have to learn. Practice in front of a mirror as often as you need to until you sound and look convincing. Make eye contact and say, “No, I can’t.” Don’t say sorry and never give a reason, because that leaves the door open for them to try to talk you into doing it after all.
Do You Need to Set Boundaries?
Setting some family boundaries can feel tough at first. Learning to say “no” is setting a boundary. Making time for yourself to do things you enjoy is setting a boundary. It can also be that you are not expected to sacrifice your career for the sake of the family, but that your work outside the home is recognized as being of value. Setting expectations such as chores, curfew, computer time permission and more will all show the children who is in charge and will ease the feeling that you are always fighting an uphill battle.
Practice these simple techniques to establish family boundaries and see what a difference it can make in your life.