I was talking to a friend of mine the other day. I will call her Jane. She is in her 50s. She has a lovely supportive husband and a grown up son who still lives at home. Her mother has been ill for a long time and Jane has been looking after her.
She works full time in a demanding career as an executive, goes home from work to cook for her family then drives to her mother’s house to cook for her. She is exhausted and at her wits end. When I asked her why her husband and son could not cook and take on more responsibility, she explained that this is what had always happened and that she had it under control.
She also admitted that she was a bit of a control freak and realised that she needed to let go. Women are often their own worst enemies! After we chatted she agreed that the boys could do the cooking and take more responsibility.
Yes….she has to put in clearly defined boundaries. Rules!
It is also really important that she has a discussion with her family after she has decided what her boundaries need to be. She needs to talk about what needs to change so that she can do some self-care and look after herself.
When you are a mother of young children, your main concern is for the children. You do everything and anything for them. You protect them, feed them and nurture them. It is your job to ensure they stay alive and eventually become the happy and successful adults you want so much for them.
As part of the job it is important to keep the house running. In my grandmother’s day, most women did not have paid work. They stayed home and ‘kept house’.
I suspect that it was a bit easier compared to today as women now not only need to keep the family and home running, but most also have full time jobs and demanding careers. I think most people would agree with me that it is a lot more stressful nowadays. This is despite all the mod cons we have in our homes and men being more involved in child rearing. Having said that, the lion’s share of the responsibility still rests on the woman.
A women has to make an awful lot of self-sacrifice to ensure her family is well-looked after. There is no time to think much about herself.
It’s our hormones that keep us there. They drive us to reproduce, nurture children and others. It’s an evolutionary thing. As a consequence, personal boundaries become blurred and may even disappear.
So, as you get older the hormones decrease in our bodies and many women feel angry and frustrated. As the hormonal veil lifts during menopause, it is no wonder we stand there asking ourselves ‘what about me?’
Menopause is an opportune time to have a good look at ourselves, our lives and our families. It provides the impetus to make changes and to set goals that serve US!
It is a perfect time to really define or even redefine boundaries around career, home, family and friends.
Jane is doing that now and I am sure she will feel so much better when she allows her family to share the load. This will free up some time so she can do some badly needed self-care.
If you feel like you would like some help with setting your own boundaries, just check in for a no obligation quick chat with me.