Setting Boundaries


ADHD & Marriage - Weekly Marriage Tip - March 30, 2012

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“…the press corps thinks that if I’m not spending enough time with them I must be cold and aloof.  The fact is, I’ve got a 13-year-old daughter, and so, no, Michelle and I don’t do the social scene, because as busy as we are, we have a limited amount of time, and we want to be good parents at a time that’s vitally important to our kids”.

- President Barack Obama

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Setting Boundaries

I am often asked about life balance questions.  How do you get enough done at work while also still meeting the emotional needs of your family?  The answer to this comes in setting boundaries.  With very few exceptions, which mostly happen when you are just entering the work force and are often single, anyway, your co-workers respect the setting boundaries around home life.

Here are some examples of boundaries between office and home that might work for you:

  • Be home for family dinner at least 4 nights a week (including weekends).  This might mean giving the kids a snack and eating together a bit later.  Family dinner has a very strong correlation with a child’s success in school and ability to articulate their needs as they grow up
  • Date night with your spouse every other week (get a sitter) – critical for nurturing your relationship!
  • Set aside specific times for work on the weekends that don’t interfere with the family time you and your spouse agree is most important (might be with kids or dating time). Tell your subordinates and co-workers that you will only be working sporadically on the weekends, and only on time-critical stuff.  If they have a true emergency, they should (of course) call you (no emails).
  • Don’t read your emails as they come in on the weekend.  “bunch” them for that time when you are working.
  • Kids’ bedtime (stories!), Scouts and games are good to set time aside for letting your children see through your actions that you care about them.
  • “Sacred time” around bedtime for your and your spouse – don’t work all evening.  If you have to work, spend some time attending to your spouse and then work at a time when he or she is unavailable to you (doing a chore, etc) or asleep.

Sadly, the concept of “quality time” with kids is something of a myth.  You need to block out “quantity time” and then find “quality time” within those hours.

As they say, few look back on their life and says “I wish I had worked harder.”  Many look back and say they wish they had connected better with family.  If the President of the United States can put aside his job at certain times for his family, so can you.


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Melissa Orlov

© 2011 Melissa Orlov