work and family

How To No Your Family Boundaries

No, it’s not a typo in the title. “No’ing” where your boundaries are as a family most often consists of setting limits. Setting limits in today’s modern world of too many choices usually involves saying that little word “no.” A family boundary is something you set that indicates a healthy limit for your family.

Here are a few questions that represent the myriad of activities common to most families. Discuss these questions with your family and work on coming up with some healthy family boundaries:

  • How many sports can your child (or children)be involved in at one time?
  • How many times should your family have dinner together each week?
  • How much homework is appropriate each school day?
  • How many outside activities can your child (or children) be involved in at one time?
  • What time should I, as a parent, be home from work?
  • How much TV time is allowed each day?
  • How much computer or phone time is appropriate each day?

Feeding children a healthy life pace most definitely requires setting a few boundaries. A healthy diet is not only built on what you eat, but on what you don’t eat! Taking steps now to define a few boundaries is much easier than trying to make some up on the fly.

I know for a fact our kids love boundaries. Okay, I know what you may be thinking after that statement: Yeah, right! Kids don’t like boundaries. They are always pushing against them! I know. That’s why I said our kids like them! Our three children get great satisfaction out of pushing boundaries to their full potential.

I can only assume that with the energy, excitement and enthusiasm they demonstrate when standing in front of a family boundary that naturally they love them. They seem to get such great satisfaction out of pushing against each and every one that Mary and I set up.

Think of it this way. All children push the boundaries. If they had a job at their age, they would be paid to push the boundaries. They would get up, take a shower, change and go to work––pushing boundaries work.

The following are three boundaries we have implemented at the Jutila home. They aren’t right and they aren't wrong they just are in our home. The key is to find a few that fit your family well and help you live a healthy family balance.

1. Our children will play one sport at a time.
This made life easier for us and our kids. High School sports are a challenge.

2. Our entire family will have dinner together three times a week.
Has allowed deeper relationships and keeps us connected.

3. Mary and I will not say yes or commit to anything until we have discussed it together.
Less arguments about who is doing what, when and where.

You may need to know your boundaries before you can no your boundaries. Maybe now is a good time to start. Do you have any in mind?

What is your child’s favorite boundary to push against?

3 Ways To Keep Work At Work & Protect Your Family Time

I remember coming home from work one evening several years ago and walking directly from the garage to the kitchen counter without saying hi to anyone. I put down my backpack, took out my laptop, opened my email and started to write.

After a few minutes, my then five-year-old son Alec asked me what I was doing. I told him I didn’t get all my work done at the office, so I needed to finish a few things at home. After a short pause, he said, “Well, maybe they can put you in a slower group at work.” Well said!

How many of us secretly want to be put into a slower group at work?
One of the biggest mistakes I made when my kids were younger was working around the clock.

Lets take a short trip back in time. 20 years ago our parents couldn’t work around the clock. There were limits built in that prevented them from working all the time. The phone was attached to the wall. Sports season actually had a beginning AND and end and there was no such thing as a “push notification” unless you were referring to the doorbell!

Today’s technology allows us to work whenever, wherever and however we want and we need to find a way to stop it.

Modern technology blurs the lines because we are rarely, if ever, are totally unplugged. We don’t really ever completely leave work because when we do, work comes looking for us! Emails to our phones; a text from our boss or team member; a direct message from Twitter or a Facebook alert. Work is always on…if you want it to be. What will it take for us to leave work at work? Here are three ideas to get us going.

1. Mindfulness

Being 100% present in the moment focusing entirely on who is in front of us right now.

2. Boundaries

Leaving our smartphones in the car or turning them off while at home or setting them on quiet and placing them in a location where they won’t interrupt us. The difficulty is we can’t leave them alone.

3. Self-Control

This is really the issue, isn’t it? It was much easier 25 years ago when our phones were permanently attached to a wall along with a cord that kept us close. Self-control was “pre-programmed” for us to some extent. Our smartphones have become our third arm, our second brain, our new relationship.

Proverbs 25:28 reminds us that, “A person without self- control, is like a city with broken- down walls.” There is nothing to protect us, the cords have been removed. I guess when it comes to self-control Nike is right, we need to “Just Do It.”

Without mindfulness, boundaries and self-control our world succumbs to a hectic lifestyle. We feel like our world is in a perpetual state of unraveling. We are a frenetic society made up of frenetic families. It’s going to take incredible commitment and diligence on a daily basis to form habits for a healthy home. Here is a great story that illustrates this point:

Each night when she came home from work, Gina spent an hour playing with her six-year-old daughter, Amanda. Everything else came second: dinner, chores and even -Amanda’s homework. Playtime was a ritual. But one night, Gina had to bring home extra work; playtime with Amanda would have to wait. Looking around for something to occupy her daughter, Gina found a magazine with a world map on its cover. She tore the map into pieces and spread them on a table. “Once you’ve put the puzzle together, we can play,” she said, assuming the task would keep Amanda busy for hours.
A half-hour later, Amanda announced she was finished, and sure enough, she had pieced together the entire map. “How did you do that?” her mom asked. “It was easy, Mommy,” Amanda replied. “There was a picture of a family on the back, and when I put the family together, the whole world just fell into place.” (1)

Amanda may be on to something. When we put the family together, the world just seems to come together.


What idea will you practice this week? Mindfulness, boundaries or self-control?
How will you practice it?


(1) Story adapted from “The Whole World Came Together,” The 30 Best Inspiring Anecdotes of All Times, 1998–99., (accessed August 2012).