road

Be the boss of you

I distinctly remember one evening, after visiting some family friends late into the night, when I was in between asleep and awake in the backseat. My head was propped on the side of the car and my body was rolled up in a self-made cocoon. I was about 8 or 9, and we had just pulled up into our driveway; my dad turned off the ignition and my mom gathered my younger brother, also sleeping, in her arms.

“Tsh. Tsh. Time to wake up. We’re home,” my mom said, and then she turned toward the house with her arms full. I wondered—If I sat still long enough, would one of my parents return to the car and carry me, too? Maybe they’ll think I’m sound asleep. Or maybe they’ll have pity on my too-big body and schlep my dead weight over their shoulder.

A few minutes passed, and no one came back for me. This is when I realized: I’m too big to be carried in any more. I was growing up, and part of that meant not getting to be a baby.

sleepy baby

Most of the time, that was cool. But at 11 p.m., when I wanted someone else to do the getting out, the walking up the driveway, the clothes-changing, and the teeth-brushing, I was bummed that I never got an official memo when that stage of my life ended. I blinked, and the phase between being small enough to be babied yet big enough to do some big things myself whooshed by.

This still continues all the time in my life. The kids are in bed, the kitchen is a mess from dinner, and I wonder where the grownup is who wouldn’t mind cleaning it for me. Bills come, and no one but Kyle or me can pay them on time. If I want to progress in my work, I have to—well, do the work.

Be the boss of me

Slow and steady, I’m learning to be the boss of me.

Not in an irresponsible, selfish way, where I raze down anyone in my way or disregard authority. Simply, maturity means owning that I own my choices, my actions, my ideas, and I can’t put the blame elsewhere.

There’s a lot of freedom in this. We can choose what to spend our money on, how to fill in the calendar boxes, and what to put in our fridge. If I choose to sleep in or wake up early, either one is my choice. I decide how to start my day.

This also means I have the freedom to say no to things that just aren’t best and yes to things that are.

Being a grownup means we technically could exit the freeway and head to the airport to board the next flight, bound for wherever. But because we love our kids and want them to eat, we choose to spend those allocated funds on groceries instead.

looking out

I’m the boss of me. No one else forces me to make my choices. There’s a lot of responsibility in that. But it’s also pretty damn freeing.

How will you be the boss of you this week?

Join the Conversation
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Tsh Oxenreider

Tsh is the founder of this blog and just finished traveling around the world with her husband and 3 kids. Her latest book is Notes From a Blue Bike, and believes a passport is one of the world's greatest textbooks.

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Comments

  1. Well said, Tsh. As you point out, saying “no” is an important part of being your own boss. I’ve recently been using the phrase, “it’s not a good fit” in order to prioritize my life and manage my time. For example, I got an invite to start a weekly routine of facials with my girlfriends. That would be fun, but between work and my young family, such a time commitment would not be a good fit right now. I’m being my own boss by not letting other people’s priorities become my own.

  2. oh yes.

    just what i needed. we’re expecting our first this autumn and i’m starting to make the rounds of ‘baby books’ we have baby advice coming from every direction. but we’re adults and we get to decide how to parent, even if no one else agrees. or if everyone else agrees!

    thanks.

  3. More often than not, we all just want to be kids again, just to have all that freedom and worry about noting. But you’re so darn right. Being all grown up means freedom. It means possibilities, smart decisions and free choices. It means not being afraid of what people will say and will someone judge you – you just want to take care of your family and your loved ones. Yes, it can seems hard sometimes – but it’s so worth it.

  4. Wonderfully positive way to look at it!

  5. Great thoughts on this Monday morning! I have to say that I often wonder when the adult is going to come and clean up my house – but then remember that is me (although if anyone has a cleaning fairy, please let me know!). And I am finally realizing that it is ok to make the right choices for my family, and not be concerned with how others will react to those choices. It took me a while to realize that if I continue making decisions for those around me, and not for me, others might be happier, but I would be miserable. I had to accept that I can’t be in control of someone else’s happiness, only my own.

  6. This week I am choosing a fun path. What makes it even more fun is that I get to choose it because I set up the wise path to it (or more like I was blessed to be able to set up the wise path to it).

  7. this has been so true of me this year. My first year as a mom was so wonderful, but hard and eye opening. Some days I didn’t feel like I was the boss of me any more…but my child was! 🙂 But I love my daughter and I want to be a mother, and raise her intentionally and invest in her life. That means I need to take the “hard” with it…like screaming tantrums and getting kicked in the face while I sleep.

  8. Oh, good stuff!! I was just starting to feel guilty/weird for saying no to a commitment that feels overwhelming in this season of life. But for the good of myself and my family, I think I will continue to say a guilt-free “no thank you, not right now.” 🙂

  9. I’m going to make my calendar work for me, not against me! 🙂

  10. My husband is from New Zealand. We have been living in America now for 8 years and have come to the decision to move to NZ hopefully in 6-8 months. There are many reasons behind this. This is a great opportunity, but I got a lot of guilt and anger from my side of the family…mainly how could I take my kids away like this. Anyway, thanks for the blog….a good reminder that my husband and I are the boss of our lives. We love our family, but cannot stay here out of guilt/control.

    • Good for you. I know it’s so hard to disappoint extended family, even if you’ve thought through your decision and know it’s best for your clan. It’s a fine line between being gracious and showing love and still sticking to your decision, isn’t it?

  11. I was waiting for an adult to put away all the costco food and wash the dirty dishes last night. Everyone else left to watch a tv show. The dirty dishes weren’t going away so I had to the grown up and clean up.

  12. avatar
    Hillary says:

    Agree! Sometimes I expect/want my husband to sweep in and be the parent, but I realize that isn’t a fair expectation. We are in it together, we are the bosses together. We can relieve each other, but have t rally together.

  13. A great reminder as we officially start summer break today. I will TRY standing strong to make choices that I think are best for my family and I, not to cave into my people-pleasing tendencies…those usually wear us out.

  14. avatar
    Marissa says:

    Thank you for these Monday posts! They are wonderfully encouraging and such a nice way to start off the week!

  15. Great article. I think so many people think someone is going to come rescue them from what they dislike in life, whether that’s their job, their home life or just about anything. Be the boss of you!

  16. Thank you so much. This was EXACTLY what I need to hear/read/see/think about today.

  17. How did you know that this was JUST what I needed to read this morning. Because, yes, even at 37, with 4 kids and a loving husband, sometimes I really just don’t want to be the grown up anymore. And that thing… about the late night and messy kitchen… that’s SO me! I appreciate your little pep-talk this morning!

  18. Good, good stuff here, Tsh.

    Sometimes, I’m too much of a boss to myself. I want to be a kinder, gentler boss to myself this week. I have a lot on my plate, and want to be sure to give myself enough grace in this super-busy week.

    ~ Jennifer

    • Oh, so true, too. There’s a huge difference between being responsible and being a perfectionist, isn’t there? The best kinds of bosses understand how real life works—and that fun is just as important as work. 🙂

  19. The boss of me is telling me to go weed the garden and clean up the house. 😉 Thanks for a great post!

  20. I can remember feeling that tension from childhood: wanting to grow up so fast in one moment, and missing being “babied” in the next. Who would have guessed it doesn’t go away in “grownuphood”? Thanks for the reminder that responsibility is important and that there’s still freedom in the midst of it.

  21. It’s almost like you’re talking about getting us to be responsible human beings…being the boss of me, means taking charge and not just letting my worse part take over and do nothing. Now the trick is getting my kids to be the boss of themselves

  22. Thanks for this!!

    The freedom that comes from embracing this idea is really lovely and empowering.

  23. 25, and still figuring this out.

    Like you said there’s a lot of freedom in there. You can look at it as a burden, or an opportunity. I think the second one makes you more responsible!

    Thx Tsh

  24. So true…I definitely have my days when I want to be ‘carried’….especially when it’s midnight and the kitchen is a mess 😉 I also have my days of wishing I was Mary Poppins and could just make things fly back into place, but alas, that hasn’t happened yet either.

  25. This is the same message they are teaching my kids in preschool ~ they are the boss of themselves in terms of making good choices and doing what’s right. Good reminder for us grownups too!

    I am going to be the boss of me this week by making myself stick to my to-do list. I’ve procrastinated a few tasks that are now nagging to be done – gotta be the grown-up who gets them done this week!

    Thanks for the encouragement! 🙂

  26. I am finishing up my very first Whole 30 tomorrow. I am definitely the boss of me when it comes to the food I take into my body. I have control and I feel better than I ever have in my life. I am also going to make a schedule this week and stick to it. I work from home and I get sidetracked so easily. I am going to do what I need to do when I need to do it!

    Thanks for this post and for your blog and podcasts. They have helped me so much!

  27. Hi, your piece has really touched a cord with me. I can feel my outlook changing as I write this. The last few months have been hard for me & now I can see a way forward. I am in charge of my life and that is great! Thanks for your inspiring words.

  28. I can definitely relate… in a new city where all my new friends are 10 years younger than me (I’m 35) I am running into this right and left. I’m just not willing or able to do everything that comes my way anymore, and I feel more clear than ever on who I am and who I am not! 🙂 Not so much at 25, and I’m sure I will grow in that even more from here on out, but it has been a challenge to try to be loving and gracious to new friends while still maintaining some integrity with both my schedule and finances! And trying not to be selfish but think of them as well… while still being true to who I am. 🙂

  29. Well, I am starting with the most basic of things…waking myself up when I say I want to. Sounds easy to most of you probably, but man it’s tough for me. No matter how much sleep I get, I can always concoct a ready to stay in bed longer in the morning! 🙂 So, if I’m my own boss and I want to accomplish certain things, I want to own up to the fact that some of those things are best done before the kids wake up, and the rest of my day will go more smoothly if I just.get.up.
    I just recently read a short ebook called Maximize Your Mornings (http://www.inspiredtoaction.com/wp-content/uploads/kat/ITA_Maximize_Your_Mornings.pdf) and it is really giving me some tools I have needed for a while – how to become the boss of me…that’s a BIG part of it.

    lw

  30. I so get what you mean! Thanks for this post.

  31. Hi Tsh-thanks for this post. It’s helped me to get off my butt and get some things done when I did not “feel” like doing anything. Even if I’m tired from work and come home to a moody teen, I have to choose how I will act and respond.
    Blessings!!!

  32. Hi Tsh — Thanks for this post. I feel like I was meant to find you and this site when I was struggling with a work decision. I ultimately decided NOT to travel yet again this week. I immediately felt clarity and relief as I realized I wasn’t trapped, but simply responsible for my own choices. It was a powerful moment. Also a lesson I seem to learn over and over again. I’m incredibly grateful for your words. — Skye

  33. Thank you for this article. I just shared it on Twitter and Facebook. It could not have arrived at a more perfect time!

    All the best!
    Jenna Stone

  34. Yep – the missed memo! I linked with Nester this year, 31 days of Growing UP. It’s hard stuff but so fulfilling.

    This was an encouraging post. Thank you!

  35. Saying no is. Really difficult f for me
    In my College everyone takes me for granted. Want to ssy no but I dont know why I dont say so

  36. avatar
    Elizabeth says:

    I said no to going to a jewelry party on Friday night at a neighbor’s house and turned down an offer to join a group to workout at a studio three times a week that doesn’t work well with my schedule. Saying no to friends and family to do supposed fun things makes me anxious but I know it’s better for me in the long run!
    Thanks for the reminder, Tsh. It’s not easy for us “good girls” to say no. Have a good week!

  37. Wonderful thoughts, Tsh! Somedays when I get bills or have to renew license plates or need to file taxes I am completely overwhelmed by the adulting I am expected to do. Thanks for reminding me of the freedom that comes with it as well!

  38. Wow. I needed this today. I keep trying to start grading a pile of papers, and wondering why it never actually gets graded. I guess it’s because I’m the teacher now, and if I don’t do it, no one will.

  39. Today, I am saying “no” to many “productive” tasks. I am sitting on the couch nursing a sleepy baby, playing with duplos and talking about Star Wars with my husband.

    To be honest, in my heart I know this is the hetter long-term investment: relating with my huaband and helping my children to trust me and know I treasure them. I’m used to my worth being tied to productivity, so it is hard to push the paperwork and boring stuff to the wee hours of the night.

    I guess it is freeing to remember I am making the choice. 🙂

  40. Well, we left behind jobs, a house, family, and friends to follow a dream!
    I’d say that was a pretty bossy thing to do.
    Yes, we get the rewards, and also the consequences (like trying to figure out how we’ll make this thing work!)

  41. I think this fits really well with the last post about figuring out the puzzle of personal growth. I can be my own great boss if I choose to fill my time with things that will bless my family and fill me up mentally, emotionally, spiritually and physically. Here I go to do that time tracking she was talking about …

  42. I love your thoughts and perspective, Tsh. I look forward to your posts. They’re my favorites on The Art of Simple 🙂

  43. This. I needed to read this this week, of all weeks. Most days, I am able to recognize how grateful I am to have a husband who helps around the house and does his part to keep our two different schedules working together. But every once in a while, I get annoyed that he didn’t remember to do that -one- thing that I think of as most important, or necessary, or relevant. That happened this week, and I actually checked myself – “if it bothers me that much, why don’t I just do it?”

    This thoughtful reflection was a good reinforcement for that – to remember that I should worry less about what is his or mine to do, and worry more about each of us making our best effort for -our- home. Much appreciated!

  44. Agree, it is not always easy to say no. You do what is best for you. Thanks for the article.

  45. I’ve just discovered this site! Wow! As a former wife (21 years) of a senior military officer we traveled the world together with our two, then young boys. Being grateful for such experiences to live in and observe other cultures, I was also grateful for the freedom that arrived after retiring from a structured environment that sometimes looked like “the boss of me”. My sons now adults , my (ex) hubby remarried, and completely on my own for 15 years I am constantly refreshing and retraining what type of boss I am to myself. Some days I don’t want to the boss but I quickly recall when others seemingly were the boss of me (with or without a paycheck) and suddenly that split second of not wanting to be my boss vanishes and gratitude for all the experiences that brought me to today carry me through my list of “things to do”!

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