You are in full nesting mode for your little bundle of joy. You got the room ready, multiple cute outfits, all the bottles, freezer meals and frozen padsicles. Your life is all ready to start as a family of 3 (or 4 if you’re having twins). But have you thought about how your and your family’s boundaries will change once it’s no longer a family of 2? It may seem so insignificant compared to all the other things you need to prepare but it’s actually one of the most important things for your family’s (and yours) wellbeing.
What are Boundaries
First, what are boundaries? Boundaries are simply limits on what we allow in our lives. They help guard our well being and serve as a reminder of what types of behavior we are comfortable with.
Right now, you may be quite comfortable with having lots of people at the house, friends calling you at any hour, having long phone conversations and last minute dinner plans. But a lot of these things will change once baby enters the picture. And you should have an idea of your new boundaries so that your environment is supporting you.
I personally cringe when I read blog posts about how a husband allowed his mother to be in the delivery room despite his wife’s protests or how relatives feel entitled to be present only moments after birth. To me, these types of behaviors violate some of my most sacred boundaries – respect for my personal time and space.
New moms are in a uniquely vulnerable position. They have just brought a life earthside. They are recovering from an arduous physical endeavor and they have just had a rebirth themselves. All this opens us up on all mental, emotional and physical levels and in order to protect our new life we must guard it with strong boundaries. What those boundaries will be is completely up to you. Afterall, this is your family and your life. You know best what you need.
What Types of Boundaries Do New Moms Need?
But if you’re stuck coming up with boundaries, I have some ideas for you.
- Decide who is allowed to visit and when (both in the hospital and when you return home)
- Timing (when are people allowed to call, how much notice for coming over, how long till you respond to text, how long can each visit last)
- Household labor (who does what in the house in general; but in the immediate postpartum, mom shouldn’t be responsible for any of it)
- Unsolicited advice
- What information about your life you are willing to share (don’t want to talk about how you feed your child, don’t want to talk about bouncing back)
- How involved you want other people to be in your daily life
- Decide who you want involved in your life (once you become a mom, you may realize that you’ve had toxic people in your life and you don’t want them near you anymore)
What if You’re Really Struggling?
Even though I wrote about putting up boundaries about people’s involvement into your new life as a mom, I think there are some situations when it’s ok for those boundaries to be broken. I think when moms struggle with PPD or PPA, they don’t always notice what’s happening to them. They may think it’s all just part of motherhood or they’re going crazy simply because of the lack of sleep. So they continue on, not realizing that there is a real problem. And the best people to point out that something is off are those closest to you.
So maybe your husband and your best friend notice that you’re not acting like yourself at all. And they start asking probing questions and pointing out what they see. Your first reaction may be to withdraw and shut them out. It may feel like they are invading your boundaries with their behavior but this is the time to let them. Listen to what they have to say to you and trust that they have your best interest at heart.
For more information on PPD and finding a therapist in your area, visit my Resource Library.
Cutting Toxic People Out of Your Life
One thing that often happens when we become mothers is that our friend group ends up restructuring itself. We often end up losing people from our life and it hurts. But when you really look closer at it, you realize that the people you lost were probably not good for you to begin with. So it’s a blessing in disguise.
That’s really where having strong boundaries becomes important. As a new mom, you may feel emotionally depleted and need friendships that are “easy” and nurturing. You need people to be flexible and understanding of your schedule restrictions, accommodating to the fact that you may not be able to leave the house for a long time or maybe at all, and that you may have a child attached to your hip 24/7. And you can’t have the same type of friendship you had pre-baby where you went out whenever, had spontaneous trips, and had a lot of fun things to talk about.
You may be very “boring” and “needy” for a while. And not all of your friends will be willing to support you. Some may just ghost you without an explanation and others may blame you for breaking the friendship. But you need to know that it’s OK. Your strong boundaries allowed you to protect your mental and emotional well-being and got rid of people who were not good for you. And now you can spend more of your precious time cultivating lasting relationships with those who truly care for you. Make mom friends! They get it!
Last thoughts on boundaries
Figuring out your boundaries is a fluid process. Your needs will change with the seasons in your life. But as long as you continue to check in with yourself in those transitional times and assessing your needs, you will be able to create boundaries that ensure your well-being. Go on. Take the time to figure out what’s important to you and protect it.