Q&A with a Client on Setting Boundaries

Q&A with a Client on Setting Boundaries

I’d like to share a Q&A between myself and one of my Setting Boundaries Masterclass attendees – Katy H, who works in Marketing & Communications – which I am publishing with her consent. 

Katy was unable to attend the live session and I answered her queries via email. I was struck by what common issues she faced, which I see time and again with both myself and my clients.

So many of us suffer from the adverse effects of unhealthy boundaries – whether at work or at home – but recognising how these affect you, then working to put healthy boundaries in place, can be so beneficial. 

This blog also gives you a bit of insight into how I coach and advise my clients in my women’s coaching practice in London, so while this is an email exchange between us, it shows you the types of things I ask or suggest. 

Thank you Katy for sharing your questions and for agreeing for this to feature on my blog. I hope our exchange might help others who are facing similar issues with boundaries. You’ll also see at the end of the blog that Katy reported back on how helpful this was for her!


Katy: There are two boundaries for me. The first is the fact I currently don’t work Fridays and I feel like do have to  remind people (although the message slowly is starting to stick). I have a note in my email signature and out of office, but work sometimes creeps in. For example, recently our financial results were out on a Friday and I was waiting until after lunch for someone else to complete a piece of work before I could finalise. I felt like I couldn’t make any plans for that day off work. 

Olivia: When you have big projects like these going live – are you able to remind particular stakeholders verbally and in writing that you don’t work on Fridays so the document that you need to review has to be with you by Thursday lunchtime at the latest. I know with things like Results the turnaround is so tight, but could this help? I would be reminding them both the week prior and on the Monday of that week.

Can you discuss with your key stakeholders what is critical for you to review? If there weren’t any changes since you last saw the document, do you need to see it again?

Can you buddy up with a colleague on your day off and you cover them for other instances? For example, if something really bad happened to you, who would be the next option in that scenario? Sometimes that can help.

Your email signature is good – it’s that people won’t necessarily notice it or remember, so you will need to remind them a lot.

As FYI – I used to work with people who were not contactable and wouldn’t check their emails/answer their phone on their day off as they weren’t getting paid for it. Fair game to them. I wonder how you may be able to embrace this, and have flexibility on that boundary when it’s really necessary.

Katy: The other boundary is how do I remove the guilt of wanting to get more ‘me’ time. My partner and I share the load with our two year old. But I often feel guilty stepping away for an hour to do some odd jobs. And I  rarely step away to just ‘be’. 

Olivia: This is a challenge of being a working mother – we carry the mental load as well as the physical load and are constantly rushing from one thing to the next. Often our partners don’t carry that same mental load.

Start with your self-worth. You need to refill your tank and honour your own needs first. Before kids, we were used to putting our needs first, now we come last. 

So try doing some things like affirming yourself when you have time off just to ‘be’. You can say things like: “I give myself the gift of time to relax and unwind from the busy week. I give myself permission to do what feels good. My needs are just as important as my family’s needs and so I am going to spend the next amount of time honouring my needs and listening to them.”

Do what you feel like – not what’s needed. Read a book instead of doing the laundry because it will always be there.

What things feel good to you when you can just be? Eg. going for a walk, reading a book, calling a friend to catch up and notice how you feel afterwards. Remembering that post-feeling can further inspire and encourage you to do it more. I frequently do things like go to an exercise class followed by coffee when George does rugby (bearing in mind he is only four) and we meet up afterwards. My cup overflows when I do this, as well as simple things like having a bath, or going to bed early. When working with my clients, we often create a list of “what feels good” that they keep somewhere visible and can turn to when it’s needed – sometimes we are depleted and need someone to remind us. It’s also connected to maintaining our own identities in motherhood.

Here’s what Katy had to say a few weeks after our exchange….

Katy: Thank you SO much for your detailed thoughts on setting boundaries. You’ll be pleased to know that after a significant work announcement yesterday, I set myself up to share information and file it so the team had direct access to avoid any questions on my Friday off. I also didn’t dial into any meetings. I may have checked my email a couple of times, but I’d say its progress. I was able to take my daughter to soft play this morning and we had a nice day 🙂 

I really like your Thursday review idea. I’m starting to implement that now and telling people upfront when I’m around for approvals and also telling them why I might not respond for a couple of days. I agree with the Friday no-contact recommendation – you have to be firm most of the time, but make a clear exception for something business critical. I otherwise don’t check my work phone much on a Friday or over a weekend. I have both a personal and a work phone, which does help. 

Do you face similar issues with boundaries?

My Setting Boundaries Masterclass is here to help. This 40-minute recorded Masterclass can be watched anytime and you can also re-watch it as you have ongoing access. It also includes presentation slides, to download and keep, a booklet on boundaries, three sample scripts to help you know what to say and my six steps to setting boundaries checklist and what to do at each step

  • It will teach you to set boundaries with confidence and less anxiety. 
  • Learn my proven method to setting boundaries effectively, in any workplace or situation. 
  • Includes example scripts and checklist and recording of Masterclass for you to watch anywhere, anytime.
  • You’ll learn to set boundaries with ease with my 7 step guide – navigating you through each stage and feeling.

Need more support?

In my coaching work, I help clients to overcome their barriers and set boundaries in place. The results? More confidence, more personal time, better self worth and less anxiety: you’ll be amazed at the positive effects these results can have.

If you are interested in one-to-one coaching, click here for more information or drop me an email: oliviabath@thewomensvault.com

Further resources:

Blog: Three Ways Unhealthy Boundaries are Affecting You

Blog: Setting Healthy Boundaries at Work

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