Silly Symbols Save Sanity (Enforcing your boundaries doesn't have to be offensive.)

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Silly Symbols Save Sanity

Nearly twenty years ago, I found myself suddenly and unexpectedly working from home, with no room in the house suitable to turn into an office.

After yet another acquisition and the downsizing that followed, very few people were left in our regional office, and the company decided to temporarily close it, and have us experiment with working remotely.

My challenge was that I had three small children at home all day. When they were done with their homeschooling, they often wanted Daddy time.

But Daddy had meetings to go to, code to write, projects to work on. Interruptions quickly became a problem.

I needed to set some boundaries, but I needed something that three young children ages 2-6 would understand.

It turns out that my company’s landlord, the office building management, had recently held a French-themed party for all of the business tenants. As part of the festivities, they gave everyone one of these blue berets. It was a fun little hat that I associated with the office, and it gave me an idea.

I told my family that whenever I was wearing the blue hat, I needed quiet so I could work. If I wasn’t wearing the hat, then they could approach me with whatever they wanted to ask me or show me.

Now sometimes I’d forget to wear the hat. And sometimes they’d forget to be quiet. But eventually this silly hat became a fun and effective way to enforce boundaries without anyone feeling like I had to be stern or forceful.

And it was a good reminder to me, too. Placing the hat on helped me become fully present with my work. Taking the hat off opened me up to be fully present with whatever (or whoever) was in front of me.

We’ve moved since then, and I have a nice, private place for my office now. But this hat still serves as a great reminder that it’s possible to enforce important personal boundaries while still keeping great relationships.

If you’re finding it a challenge to balance your personal boundaries with your work or family relationships, let’s talk. Visit to schedule a complimentary conversation.

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