Boundaries often have a bad reputation because they mean separation or a limit between things.
Boundaries, however, are invaluable to develop as a mother because while we have the natural compassion and tendency to want to always help or dote on others, we have to be able to say no to take care of ourselves and our children. Here are some ways boundaries are vital for your sanity:
Time Is Precious
When you become a mom, suddenly your time is majorly devoted to your child and all the responsibilities that come with it. Whether you go back to work or stay at home, you have little free time, so having boundaries and sticking to them allows you to make the most of that little free time that you have. Be intentional with how you use your free time and do things that you love. If an activity or an individual leaves you depleted, don't feel obligated to do the activity or see the individual often. Your time is not owed to anyone else and is a gift. You also don't have time for people who don't make time for you—so stop trying to bend over backward to accommodate other people if that is your original tendency.
If an activity or an individual leaves you depleted, don't feel obligated to do the activity or see the individual often.
Set your own standards and stick to them. Life is too short to do otherwise, and if you don't have proper boundaries for your own time, then you will feel resentful or frustrated that time was not well spent. As Warren Buffett said in an interview with Bill Gates, “It’s the only thing you can’t buy. I mean, I can buy anything I want, basically, but I can’t buy time.” Everyone has 24 hours in a day—it’s up to you on how to use that time because it's so valuable.
Support Your Health
Having set boundaries gives you mental and emotional clarity. They allow you to know what is or is not your responsibility. That clarity will enable you to alleviate stress because you know what to expect from yourself and others instead of living with uncertainty or ambiguity. You can tell when other people don't have boundaries because they will make you feel uncomfortable and also taken advantage of.
You can tell when other people don't have boundaries because they will make you feel uncomfortable and also taken advantage of.
Boundaries also allow you to protect yourself from getting sick. When you are drained, exhausted, and run down, this means you have let your boundaries break down, and you can become physically ill. Having poor boundaries can cause mental, emotional and physical fatigue. Keep healthy boundaries so you can stay physically strong!
Form and Maintain Good Habits
Boundaries allow you to form good habits and grow in virtue. By saying no to certain things that are not healthy or unproductive for you, you say yes to more positive and enriching possibilities and thus are able to focus more because you are able to do things that add value to your life. Boundaries also help you take ownership for your actions and allow you to realize how much freedom you really do have (within the limits of still having to care for your child.) Boundaries protect you so that other people will not take advantage of you, giving you total agency to focus and pursue your own goals on your terms. It's not up to other people to tell you how to act, parent, and live your life — it's up to you. Own it.
By saying no to certain things that are not healthy or unproductive for you, you say yes to more positive and enriching possibilities.
Help Your Child’s Development
Boundaries give children a sense of security. Children naturally develop their own patterns, but it's up to parents to modify them or keep them consistent, and consistency allows children to form better habits and know what to expect. Boundaries also enable children to develop their own sense of self because they are unique individuals separate from their parents.
While you want to control your child when they are little, you want to allow them to explore and develop to discover the world and learn for themselves.
While you want to control your child when they are little, you want to allow them to explore and develop to discover the world and learn for themselves. In the words of the renowned early childhood educator Maria Montessori, “The greatest gifts we can give our children are the roots of responsibility and the wings of independence.” And those independent children develop into independent, creative adults.
Boundaries are not selfish. They are vital to self-care and self-flourishing. You owe it to yourself to establish, maintain, and protect your boundaries because you are worth it!