One big thing I am working on personally this year is my BOUNDARIES. I am a notorious “people pleaser.” I hate saying no, I hate disappointing people, and I hate feeling guilty. But I realized that my irrational need to please everyone was actually detrimental to my own well-being (it’s REALLY exhausting), and, in turn, detrimental to my ability to be my best for my son. When my son was born, as you can imagine, my priorities shifted – he became the most important thing. And I needed to figure out how to push that need to be a people pleaser FAR, FAR AWAY so I could be my best for myself and my family. Plus, breastfeeding mamas (and ANY mamas) don’t have time for all that BS! Breastfeeding is a full time job in itself. We don’t have time to be everything for everyone. But, for life-long people pleasers, it’s a hard habit to break!
So, as a recovering people pleaser, let me share with you how I’ve been able to create some boundaries so I have more space for the right things in my life:
Get comfortable with saying “NO”: “No” is not a bad word! Us people pleasers have been conditioned to think that saying “no” to things is rude and it is NOT. If something is going to interfere with my ability to be my best self as a mom, then I have decided that it is a “no” for me. And that is OKAY. The people closest to you will understand. It is 100% natural for your priorities to shift when you become a mom and you no longer are able to do ALL the things. Don’t say “yes” to something just because you’re going to feel guilty for saying “no.” You will be so grumpy at yourself if you do. You have limited, if any, “free” time. It doesn’t make any logical sense to fill that time with things that don’t feel GOOD for you. But let me tell you…this is not easy! There are certain people in my life that I have a really hard time saying “no” to and I am still working on it. I KNOW I don’t feel good when I say “yes” to some of their requests, yet I say “yes” anyways. And I spend SO much time and energy kicking myself for not saying “NO.” But now I’m AWARE of this and I’m practicing saying “no” more often and to more people. The more you do it, the easier it becomes! You need to do what works for YOU as a mom. Just remember that.
Be clear about your boundaries and expectations with others: If you have been a serial people pleaser like me, then you can’t expect everyone in your life to understand that you’re now switching gears when they’re used to a very different response from you. If your boundaries are not being respected, be VERY clear about what they are and what your expectations are moving forward. Remind yourself that it is completely REASONABLE for your priorities to shift now that you’re a mom and you deserve for your boundaries to be respected, even if they are new for you. Verbalizing your boundaries to others also helps mentally solidify those boundaries for yourself too. For example: If you do not want to respond to text messages or phone calls from family or friends from 5pm to 7pm because that is when you get home from work and have time to spend with the baby, then don’t! Tell your friends and family to expect you to be unavailable in the evenings during the work week unless there is an emergency. Then stick to that. Sometimes we can disrespect our own boundaries when we aren’t used to having them! Verbalizing and practicing your boundaries will make it easier on everyone involved and make you happier in the end! And we want to be happy mamas for our babies right?!
I’ve been focusing on these two things to help improve my mental and emotional well-being. I was EXHAUSTED and spread way too thin in trying to be the best mama, wife, and everything to everyone else. I’ve been implementing stricter boundaries both in my personal life and in the workplace, and it feels AMAZING. If you are a serial people pleaser like me, I highly suggest this whole boundaries thing…you won’t regret it.