Feeling Guilty for saying “no”?
Setting boundaries throughout your life is important, especially as a mom. We all know mom-guilt is a real thing, and without setting some much-needed boundaries, it can quickly get out of hand and start to affect your personal well-being.
When we don’t set boundaries, it can be easy to overextend ourselves, drain all-out energy without time to replenish, feel extra stressed, and even start to get a little resentful.
The next time you start feeling any of these things, ask yourself if there was a boundary missed somewhere.
Start Setting Boundaries NOW
As a new mom, the time to start setting boundaries is, well, yesterday. If you’re expecting a baby right now, showing others your boundaries can be helpful for when baby arrives and you’re feeling too tired to have a potentially challenging conversation (Some people may have a hard time accepting your boundaries, especially if you’ve never asserted your boundaries before).
On the other hand, if you’ve had kids but you feel like you’ve never been able to set boundaries well, it’s never too late to start.
Setting boundaries can be done easily and it doesn’t have to come off like your being inflexible or saying “no” all the time.
What it will do, however, is allow you the space you need to feel your best without feeling guilty about pleasing someone else, or not following through on something.
The bottom line is – boundaries are essential for your well-being.
Boundaries and Wellness
When you don’t set boundaries, you’re allowing others to take energy from your emotional wellbeing. And if done too much, it leaves no emotional energy left for the people you love or yourself.
According to the National Institute of Health, emotional wellbeing is defined as, “being confident and positive and able to cope with the ups and downs of life.” (Stewart-Brown, Sarah)
As a mom, (and especially as a new mom), your emotional wellbeing gets tested probably more than anything else, so it’s important to protect it and support it when you can.
Emotional wellness is what helps us moms get our energy back after a long day, maintain our patience when our kids are pushing our buttons, and give ourselves grace when someone doesn’t go as planned. It’s also the part of ourselves that can affect how stressed we feel.
If we allow someone to be unkind to us, or belittle our personal values, we’re not setting healthy boundaries.
Setting healthy boundaries can also be an act of physical wellness, in screening who we allow to physically touch us or hug us. (Brenner, Abigail)
I talk to a lot of moms who feel guilty when they need a little space from their “always-crawling on top of them” toddler, but by letting them know you need space, you’re showing they what healthy boundaries look like so they can continue to set their own healthy boundaries in their life and become healthy functioning adults.
Setting boundaries in our lives is not only important for our own well-being, but it’s also important for your child’s development as well! (Something to think about next time you’re feeling bad about taking time for yourself!)
Where you can start setting boundaries
As you set boundaries in your life, it’s helpful to know what your boundaries are. Here are some examples of where you should be setting boundaries in your life:
- Your values
- Your available time
- Your physical time
- Your emotional energy
- Your opinions and decisions
- Your priorities
- Your respect
- The value you provide
- Your physical space
Need a few ideas on how to start setting boundaries with someone without feeling like you’re saying no or being inflexible? Here are a few ideas to get you started:
How to set a boundary without saying “no”
- “I can’t make that work, but what I can do is…”
- “That sounds interesting. Let me make sure I have enough time open to take it on and I’ll get back to you.” (when being asked to volunteer for an activity)
- “I’m honored you asked me. My plate is all filled up right now, but I’d love to consider this down the road”
- (during a work conversation) “Right now, I have x, y, & z acting as my main priority as we’ve previously discussed. Which of those options should I deprioritize to make room for this new priority?” (Priorities, Your personal time)
- “I’m working on xyz, so I won’t have time to complete that before the end of the day today, but I’ll have time to focus on it more…” (personal time)
- “I appreciate your opinion about this, but I’ve already decided the direction I’m going to take with this” (Your opinions and decisions)
- (with your children) “I know you want to sit on my lap, but mommy needs some space right now. I’d love for you to sit on my lap when we’re reading books later though.”
- (with your children) “Mommy is focusing on xyz right now, but I’d love to play legos with you when I’m done in about 30 minutes. Should we have Alexa set a timer for us?”
- “I know both of our time is valuable and we have a lot going on, so let’s continue this conversation later. (personal time if you get caught in a conversation that’s running long.)
So, the next time you’re feeling guilty about saying “no”, you need some personal space, or you feel belittled in a conversation, remember that you are worth feeling like your best self, and a first step is to start setting healthy boundaries to protect your personal wellbeing.
Need some help setting healthy boundaries in your life?
Finding the right person to support you through setting boundaries might be helpful for you to be able to practice what you’re going to say and build some confidence before having a real conversation.
Abigail Brenner M.D., “7 Tips to Create Healthy Boundaries with Others”, Psychology Today (blog), November 21st, 2015, https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/in-flux/201511/7-tips-create-healthy-boundaries-others
Sarah Stewart-Brown, “Emotional wellbeing and its relation to health”, National Institute of Health (blog), December 12th, 1998, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1114432/