Stay Curious.
Dig Deeper.
Nurture What Matters.
Be BoldHeart.
Enjoy Your Life.

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The BoldHeartMama desires to enjoy living out the choices that she’s made for herself and for her family. She is a relentless learner: curious, inquisitive, and open to the possibilities of her life and of the human condition. She understands that there isn't one right way—she asks questions that dig deeper to make sense of it all and to find her own path.

She pays attention to and nurtures whatever it is she really cares about, letting go of the rest (for now) knowing she can't do and be everything all at once. She embraces her imperfections in favor of "good enough"—her imperfect self, her imperfect home, her imperfect mothering, her imperfect desires—and she never stops evolving as a woman and mother. She is a BoldHeart, authentic and true to herself.

The BoldHeartMama knows there is only this one life and she's all in. She is present and engaged and making things happen. Her intuition is her guide. She seeks to be inspired and relies on her creativity and her resourcefulness to solve the big and little challenges that she and her family face together as they navigate their relationships and their world.

The BoldHeartMama is willing to take calculated risks to make her biggest dreams come true. She is living out her BoldHeart in the moment, making small moves and taking little steps that add up, and she's cultivating a good life for herself and her family in the process. Read More!

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Boundaries, FAQ answers

A while back readers posted questions to an FAQ requestToday I'm sharing more about how we prioritize the family's needs in the context of a larger family structure.

Anonymous asks:
"I would like to know how you manage these intentional life choices within the context of a broader family structure - So, how do you explain/justify and support your efforts and money spent on eating well to extended family who just don't get it? How do you keep an eye on your overall family goals when they are challenged by other needs you must attend to (for example, spending time with or caring for or celebrating with extended family members and friends when it might seem to come at the expense of immediate family)."

After giving it some thought, the answer to both questions really comes down to boundaries.

As parents, Andy and I have not always been good at establishing healthy boundaries, especially within those familial relationships where they are probably needed most (i.e., grandparents!). Even though we are more aware and wiser to the better outcomes that having clear boundaries and expectations can create for all involved, we are still learning how to be effective, kind, and true to ourselves when we express our needs to our families and friends. Holding others accountable for respecting our boundaries is the other aspect of boundary setting that we often struggle with. Setting boundaries is iterative and lifelong but worth the benefits of improved communication and the preservation of important relationships. Our individual and family needs will change over time, so there will be plenty of opportunity to practice until it becomes second nature. (I like this article on boundary setting and accountability.) I'm breaking this up into two parts:

1. How do you explain, justify, and support your efforts and money spent on eating well to extended family who just don't get it?

When it comes to how we spend our money, what we eat, and/or how we invest in our health we don't typically discuss these topics with our family (or friends). While I love to talk about actively sourcing and preparing the foods that we eat, how we see our family's place in our food chain, and the importance of eating good food from animals that led good lives (including the health benefits of eating animals that have been fed their normal diets), I reserve those passionate discussions for individuals whom I know share my views. Otherwise, I'm happy to explore these topics when asked about them directly but, as with politics, I generally don't go out of my way to go into detail.

It is very likely that neither set of grandparents, nor most of our friends fully understand our motivations to seek out pastured/local/seasonal/organic foods, and that's ok. We are fortunate that criticism and other negativity from our immediate circles are not part of the dialogue around this topic.

2. How do you keep an eye on your overall family goals when they are challenged by other needs you must attend to (for example, spending time with or caring for or celebrating with extended family members and friends when it might seem to come at the expense of immediate family time.

As a new mother I was surprised to find that one of the most challenging aspects of my transition was the effort required to navigate the fundamental and necessary shift in family dynamic that occurs when a daughter becomes a mother and a mother becomes a grandmother, or really when any adult child becomes a parent to the next generation. The simple fact challenges the established ways of communicating and interacting.

When we became parents the importance of maintaining a routine became clear early on. While we were learning to live at a slower pace, and to care for our nuclear unit, our extended family's expectations had not changed all that much and their requests began to feel more like unreasonable demands, with consequences. After some trial and error and attempts to compromise, we realized that pushing the kids past their limits in order to partake in activities or events to which we had committed ourselves (by choice or obligation) just wasn't working for us. These scenarios almost always ended with feelings of disappointment and frustration as our ability to fully engage and enjoy the time spent was hindered by the extra effort required to care for unhappy babies and toddlers.

The solution was to set boundaries by communicating the kinds of activities that our young family could commit to participate in while also being honest about what we couldn't manage, at least for now.

When it comes to participating or not in family and other social events we do pick and choose what we feel is reasonable and on what level. We may decline an invitation altogether or suggest an alternative that works better for our family. We may participate in only a portion of the activities scheduled for a given event. We may make special accommodations in order to ensure our family's needs are met at the same time that we are meeting the needs of others. There have been times when Andy and I really wanted or needed to show up for an event, like a college graduation, and we knew that the kids would require naps mid-day and that they wouldn't likely be able to sit through the entire ceremony. In order to make it happen we planned ahead and did the best we could. We have become very comfortable dropping everything and leaving when it is clear that the kids can't tolerate a given situation. In the case of the graduation, they boys were animals and Andy left with them so they could nap in the car and I stayed behind to witness my little brother receive his diploma.

We've also developed a level of comfort for the scenarios in which an identifiable compromise doesn't exist, and in those cases we choose our family. I understand that life is lived in phases and right now when the kids are so young and when it is our responsibility to meet their basic needs* we remain flexible but prioritize their needs and our parental sanity over the needs of others. It doesn't always please everyone, but it is necessary for us.

Our extended family has grown to better understand our changed priorities, and as a result their expectations have also changed. They don't seem as disappointed as they may have been early on. Another important detail of our story is that we live in a different city from our families, and most of our close friends, so distance makes our independence and autonomy easier, if not built-in.

*basic needs: nutrition, sleep, rest, downtime, safety, connection, cuddling, fun, and mastery (Peaceful Parent, Happy Kid).


  1. I usually don't have this issue bc we have always lived far from family, but it has definitely come up this summer! I push the kids awhile but we have been sharing a house with my parents, so they share the late night/ early morning "fun" if the kids are pushed too much. I do know this is a finite period of time though, so I have been trying to maximize family time within limits. -Katie

    1. Yes, I imagine that distance as great as what you guys have experienced makes this an almost non-issue! (With family anyway.)


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