Setting Boundaries: A Sure Way to Stay Sane as a Mom

I remember the first time I realized I needed to set boundaries. I was completely burned out, ready to give up, and looking everywhere for happiness except within myself. If this sounds like something you’re going through, then setting boundaries might be the missing piece to your peace of mind.

So, what exactly are boundaries?

Does it mean that you set up a wall between you and others in hopes of keeping them out? Not at all! Boundary setting actually helps guard our emotions without putting up walls. Boundaries are routines, habits, and limits that help protect our physical, mental, and spiritual health. They are essentially a part of us and include our beliefs, likes, dislikes, and preferences.

Boundary setting helps others understand what we will and will not put up with. However, this is not the same as telling people what to do. Internal boundaries are like promises that we make to ourselves. This is important to be able to set limits and priorities without getting burned out.

So, where do you start? 

I used to think that setting boundaries was selfish, but it’s important to remember that boundary setting DOES NOT make you a selfish mom. It makes you a healthy mom!

Let’s talk about resentment for a second. Every mom has experienced that feeling of resentment. Where does it come from? It usually stems from being overworked, and under-appreciated. However, it is important to recognize that it is our responsibility to set limits and communicate those boundaries with others in order to help prevent burn out and resentment.

It’s important to be able to have limits in place prior to reaching your tipping point. If we are able to set limits on the things we will and will not do, then we can be a little more comfortable and a little less resentful.   

Five areas in which to set internal boundaries that will help keep you a little happier and a little less resentful include: 

  • Spending time alone
  • Technology
  • Saying no
  • Guilt
  • Self-compassion

Spending Time Alone

Most days as a mom include a child hanging onto your legs or screaming in your face. It’s no wonder we all lose our shit at times! It is crucial that moms spend some time alone to regroup and be able to keep going. This does not have to be a whole weekend or a whole day alone, though. I have found that stepping away in times of chaos, even for five minutes, has helped me regather my thoughts and respond more proportionately to situations.

In order to help you keep this boundary: choose a time where you will spend time alone and try to commit to it. Try to pick a time where you find yourself getting most triggered. For example, bedtime was a major trigger for me on most nights. It was a time when I was tired, and my kids were tired, so my tolerance at that time was at an all-time low.

But of course, this didn’t mean I could opt out of our bedtime routine. Instead, I had to set an internal boundary. The boundary that helped me was spending time alone before bedtime. Each night I made it part of my bedtime routine to go to my room early and read a book. By the time bedtime rolled around I was able to deal with the struggles of bedtime, because I had taken time for myself to replenish.

Each day that you abide by this boundary, your family will begin to recognize that it is a priority, and it will become incorporated into your routine. Remember: you are not only setting a boundary, but you are also modeling healthy habits that you want to pass on to your children. 

Boundary example: “I will spend alone time in my room 20 minutes a day before bed time.”


Boundaries around technology are crucial in this day and age. Research from shows that mindless scrolling can have adverse effects on your mental health, leading to feelings of anxiety, loneliness, and depression. On the other hand, social media helps connect us with others, and relate to one another (hence the reason you’re reading this post!). However, being able to set an internal boundary of when and how much technology you consume is empowering and helps you to be more productive.

In order to keep this boundary: try setting times in the day where you will have no technology, whether it is a couple hours before bed, in the morning, or throughout the day when your kids’ attention is at an all-time high. Turning off the notifications setting on your phone or putting your phone on silent or do not disturb are all options that will help you stick to your boundary. Being able to set time limits on the amount of technology you consume is also helpful (for example, only thirty minute segments).

In addition, finding alternatives to mindless scrolling can help replace your habit with a more positive one such as reading, journaling, or spending time with your partner. As with any other boundary, it is important to commit to this promise you have made to yourself. 

Boundary example: “I will not use my phone after 9:00 p.m.”

Saying NO

NO is a valid answer! So many of us have grown up in environments where we were not able to say no without feeling guilty. An important part of boundary setting is prioritizing the things we can give our energy to, and eliminating things we cannot offer our energy to. Although saying no may be hard at first, like any other skill it gets easier with practice!

In order to keep this boundary: find your safe people and start saying NO! Contrary to what you believe will happen, those that matter will respect your decision and support you. After all, running yourself thin is not what anyone that loves you would want.

Some ways to say no and still be polite include:

  • “Thanks for including me, but I have another commitment.”
  • “I don’t have the mental capacity for this request.”
  • “Now is not a good time.”
  • “That’s not going to work for me.”
  • “Thank you for considering me, but I will have to pass.”

Boundary example: “I will say NO to events that take place on weekdays.”


Yes, mom guilt is very real. Everything and anything can cause you to feel guilty, from taking time for yourself to not playing enough with your kids. If you find yourself constantly guilt tripping yourself, then it may help to set some boundaries around feeling guilty. Here’s my unpopular opinion: although mom guilt is real, most of the time it is unnecessary. 

I promised myself that guilt would not be an emotion I overuse as a mom. Yes, mom guilt is very real. But allowing yourself to feel other emotions is also very real, like joy, contentment, inspiration, or awe.

In order to keep this boundary: when you find yourself overusing guilt, try asking yourself if there is another emotion you want to channel in. This is an internal boundary that you can use to help you regulate your emotions of guilt and build on other emotions that you wish to channel in. 

Boundary example: “I will not feel guilty for partaking in a self-care activity once a week.”


Closely related to guilt is our self-criticism as moms. Mom guilt may stem from the high pressures of society and standards that society has set out for moms. We are expected to not only take care of our children, but at the same time be able to maintain a clean home, hold a job, cook, do the never-ending laundry, and the list goes on. Worst of all: we begin to feel inadequate if we cannot live up to these high standards. This is when we must forgive ourselves and have self-compassion.

In order to keep this boundary: we all make mistakes, including moms. Let’s learn to change our self-talk to include compassionate statements such as:

  • “It’s okay to make mistakes.”
  • “I will forgive myself.”
  • “My negative thoughts do not define me.”
  • “It’s okay to ask for help.”
  • “My feelings are valid.”
  • “I deserve compassion.”

This will help alleviate some of the strain of motherhood and validate your own self. The next time your inner voice sounds too critical, feel free to question that criticism and be compassionate with yourself.

Boundary example: “I will forgive myself for making mistakes.”

When you prioritize your own mental health and peace of mind, you begin to set boundaries that support your own well-being and vice versa. This is not an easy task when you are accustomed to people pleasing and putting others before yourself.

Boundary setting will help you become more comfortable and less resentful. Even committing to one or two boundaries from the list above will make a big difference on your overall emotional well-being! When you fill up your cup, you’re able to pour from a full cup and show up as a more present and authentic mom. I hope this list helps you get started on your own boundary setting journey!

Mental health is so important! If you’re looking for more mental health tips, Carm shares six ways to prioritize your mental health–for you, and your kids!


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