Motherhood is one of the most intimating journey that one can embark on.
A mom has to juggle various roles – from taking care of the kids, a home, work, meals, finances and much more, it is just a matter of time before a mom becomes overwhelmed and burnt out.
In addition to that, the people around us and society also offer a multitude of opinions, judgments and rules on what motherhood should look like.
More often than not, we usually give our everything to our family and we have nothing left for ourselves.
Therefore, it is very important for us to set boundaries and learn to say “no” to others.
Setting boundaries can often be perceived as being selfish, but it is totally necessary for moms to feel healthy, safe and respected by those around you.
So what does it mean to set boundaries?
Boundaries are those limits we create to protect our physical and emotional space. We can use boundaries to control how other people treat us, and to remain focused on our priorities in life.
For example, you are more than happy to help a fellow mom babysit her kid when she has an emergency, but you might not be interested in listening to her stories about her rocky marriage. In this instance, set the boundaries and tell her that she needs to see a therapist.
Or when that time your mom and mother-in-law want to hug and kiss your child, but you’re not comfortable with it. This is a boundary that needs to be set although it can be tough because Grandma just wants to show affection.
To get you started, here are 5 ways you can begin to set boundaries within your own life:
1. You decide what your motherhood should look like
There is no universal way to parent, so don’t let motherhood define you, but you define your version of motherhood.
You will certainly receive a lot unsolicited advice and input on how to parent your kids, but know when to tune out.
One of the ways I have learned to set a boundary is to thank people for their advice, but let them know that I will navigate this situation my own way.
Just remember to always trust your intuition as a mother. There is no one who understand your children better than you.
Don’t let society’s expectations and demands tell you what you should do. Instead, listen to your heart and trust yourself. You will always be your best advocate.
2. Mommy guilt is a real thing, but don’t let it affect you.
As a mom of 2, I have been overwhelmed by mommy guilt many times. This is something that I inflict on myself. I often think that I’m not doing my best when it comes to my children, but it’s not true.
The fact is, I give my all to my kids, but they don’t know how to express their deepest love and gratitude yet.
So instead of waiting for my kids to tell me what I want to hear, I often tell myself that I am doing an excellent job as a mother.
Or that time when I dropped my daughter off at her first day of daycare and she goes wailing, yelling “please don’t leave me”, but I left anyway. I had to convince myself that I wasn’t abandoning her and she will be fine at the end of the day.
True enough, after the first week of daycare, she was loving school and can’t stop telling me about her new friends.
So the moral of the story is, It’s usually not as bad as you make it out to be. Don’t let mommy guilt overwhelm you.
If you’re a working mom like me, and can’t spend enough time with your kids, that’s ok too. Don’t spend time dwelling over mommy guilt. Instead, spend your energy and time with your kids and enjoy life to the fullest.
3. Know Your Limits
I have a mom friend who is always willing to lend a helping hand whenever needed.
On the other hand, I am always very careful about offering my time because I don’t want to spread myself too thin.
My friend and I have very different limits when it comes to how much we can give. However, I do not compare myself against her. In fact, I applaud her for being able to offer help to others.
I know my situation and my own capabilities. I believe in taking care of my immediate family first before helping others.
If something negatively affects us, I draw a line and say “no”.
4. Be Clear About Your Boundaries
Once you decide on what your boundaries are, communicate them clearly with friends and family so everyone is on the same page. With little children, have them repeat after you so that they understand what you are saying.
5. Be Consistent and Assertive
Finally, once you have decided what your boundaries are, enforce them consistently so that your family members and friends know that you are serious about them.
Your boundaries will be tested by your kids over and over again, because kids are known to be boundary-pushers. They often test your limits to see how far they can go and get away with things.
Be firm, and is it very important not to negotiate. If you allow for some leeway or wiggle room, your family members will not take your boundaries seriously.
Some Examples of Healthy Boundaries
- When mommy is in the bathroom and the door is closed, you may not come in
- When it’s time to eat dinner, no toys at the dinner table
- You can have ice-cream after dinner, but not for every meal
- We can sing one more song, but after this will be quiet time
- When mommy is working in the office, please knock before coming in
Setting boundaries in our lives is so hard, and we are tempted to let it go at certain times, but setting boundaries is very essential to protecting our mental health (and our family’s too).
The more you say “no” to things, the more you will notice how open your life has become.
So what kind of boundaries have you set in your life? How did it change the stress level in your life? Leave a comment below! I would love to hear from you.