Are squishy boundaries allowed?

Jenni Gritters
7 min readNov 8, 2023

When I go on vacation, I typically set the following boundaries:

  • I tell all of my clients (writing and coaching) that I won’t be able to email them while I’m away. (I also let everyone know when I plan to return to email.)
  • I delete all of my social media and email apps off my phone.
  • I log out of my social media accounts.
  • I set an away message for my inbox.
  • I ask my assistants to handle certain things while I’m away, like customer service-related questions and working ahead on research projects.
  • I ask my in-laws (or whomever is caring for my kids) to call me before the kids’ bedtimes, so I can chat with them.
  • I hold myself to doing morning pages and taking my vitamins every day, no matter where I am.

On a trip to Joshua Tree earlier this year, I woke up early and checked my email so I could read a message from our airbnb host. When I opened my email inbox, I saw that five of the members of one of my coaching groups had asked me basically the same question about some homework I’d handed out the week before.

I was awake before my husband so I made coffee, turned on some jazz music, and did my morning pages. I noticed that my brain kept turning back to those questions from my coaching group members. I wanted to be able to provide them with some insight while I was away. BUT I’d set boundaries around communication; I told them I wasn’t available. I sat with myself for a while, wondering if it would be okay to answer folks anyway.

After a bit of meditation, I realized that I would be able to feel more settled if I answered them; but I decided to post just once in our Facebook group, providing insight that everyone in the group could use.

When my husband woke up, I made breakfast and admitted to him somewhat guiltily that despite saying I wouldn’t work this week, I’d done a bit of work.

He responded with this: “I really admire how you set boundaries but also have the ability to make them flexible when it suits your needs.”

Well, then.

He’s right; I do often flex my boundaries when my anxiety around something will be higher if I don’t work on it…

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Jenni Gritters

I’m a writer and business coach for freelance creatives based in Central Oregon. I write about the psychology of small business ownership.