How to Set and Protect Boundaries as a Mom

Boundaries are the key to a strong identity. As hard as it is to own up to, a lack of boundaries is what got you to this place to begin with. That’s the half empty. Luckily, you can learn how to set and protect boundaries as a mom for a happier, less-stressful life.

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I have never had strong, healthy boundaries in place in my life (until now, that is). That comes from a few places. One, I had zero self-esteem growing up. Despite my many achievements and adventures, I never believed that I was worthy and valued.

In addition to that, I had never seen strong boundaries exercised by others. I grew up in an abusive home where the only boundary was trying not to make my dad angry. Yikes!

This pattern had continued into my adult relationships with friends, boyfriends, and even my family. A lack of boundaries has a negative impact on every area of your life. (Read more here.)Your relationships suffer, your finances are impacted negatively, and your stress levels are increased just to name a few.

To break this pattern and improve your life, it is time to set boundaries that direct your decisions and actions with purpose. Pull out your journal and let’s get to work.


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Look at Boundaries You Already Have (or Should Have)

Are there any areas of your life that you have strong, healthy boundaries? For example, would you immediately shutdown a stranger who tried to kiss you on the mouth? Now think about if that has ever happened with a friend or coworker of your husband. The response should be the same but it not always is.

This is an extreme example to illustrate the point. There are much subtler ways that you allow your boundaries to be changed and compromised in your day-to-day life. Every time you don’t get a shower because the kids are being wild and crazy, you are saying that your self-care boundary is negotiable and unimportant. When you repeatedly let your husband reschedule date night so that he can hang out with friends, you are saying that your time boundary isn’t concrete.

I love this quote from this article because it sums it up so succinctly. “In general, the key to setting boundaries is first figuring out what one wants from their various relationships, setting boundaries based on these desires, and then being clear with oneself and with other people about these boundaries.” (Source)


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Set New Boundaries

As I said above, we got in this place because we didn’t have healthy boundaries in place. No one loses themselves by valuing and prioritizing their time, space, and needs. More importantly, when you don’t have boundaries in place, it points at a deeper loss of identity and self-respect. Use these tips to free yourself and set boundaries:

Keep the Focus on Yourself

No one can determine your boundaries for you just as you can’t force people to respect them. However, when expressing them to people, it is important to keep the focus on yourself. For example, instead of saying “You need to stop calling me during dinner,” focus it on your boundaries by saying “I need to focus on my family at dinner and do not want to receive calls.” This keeps the focus on you and your needs.

Don’t Over-explain Your Reasons

For starters, this conveys that you feel you need an excuse for your boundaries and you don’t. Again, no one can determine your boundaries except you and no one can tell you they are wrong. You know what works best for you. In addition to that, “you are not responsible for the feelings, actions, and beliefs of others, or for the way they react to the boundaries you’ve set.” (Source)

Determine Consequences

Before you start determining consequences, it’s important to note that not all boundaries have consequences that you need to convey. For instance, in the example above about phone calls during dinner, after you have told your friend about your boundaries, simply stop answering the phone during dinner. Eventually, your friend will stop calling during that time because she knows she won’t be able to reach you.

Some boundaries do require strict consequences. For example, you should flat-out tell a friend that keeps inappropriately flirting with you that you refuse to stay in a relationship with someone who does not respect your boundaries. In that situation, you need to be willing to follow through on the consequences you set.

Types of Mom Boundaries

There are typically 6 types of boundaries you can have. They are physical, intellectual, emotional, sexual, material, and time. Check out the free worksheet at the bottom of this article to read more about the different types, but here are common boundaries (or ways they are broken) as they apply specifically to mom life.







More On Time Boundaries

This is one of the slipperiest boundaries when it comes to SAHM life. Societal and personal beliefs tell you that because you “just stay at home” that your time is not as valuable as other people’s time. This is not true and I cannot stress that enough.

It got to a point in my life that any time someone needed a ride from the airport in the middle of the day, got a package delivered and it was raining, or any other number of things, I was called and expected to do it. Why? Because I wasn’t at work so I must be available. What’s worse, I usually did whatever was requested of me. This meant that the behaviors continued happening because I didn’t set healthy boundaries.

Your Time is Valuable

Staying home with your kids does not mean that your time isn’t valuable. If you are trying to get costumes made for your kids and a friend calls wanting to go to the park, it is okay to say no. That doesn’t mean you’re being selfish, a bad friend, or a bad mom. It means you are protecting your boundaries and completing the task you need to get done.

Furthermore, if that same friend calls and you have nothing going on but you don’t want to leave the house that day. It is still 100% acceptable to say no. That is the importance of boundaries. They will let you know when you are doing something because you want to or because you feel like you have to.


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Enforcing Your Boundaries

It is not enough to set boundaries and expect people to maintain them. In fact, it is human nature to test boundaries, especially when they are brand new. Think of it in the scope of your children. If you tell your child that they don’t get dessert unless they finish their dinner, they will try to push that boundary. If often comes in the form of bargaining, such as “What if I eat 5 bites of my dinner. Then can I have dessert?” If you agree to this, then you’ve just negated the boundary.

That means that when you tell your friends you can’t go out to eat with them because you’re saving money for a new car, they will come back at you with, “Okay, we’ll go somewhere cheaper to eat.” It’s human nature. In these moments it is important to solidify your boundaries. Make it clear that you are not spending any money on such things because of your overarching goal. If you still want to spend time together simply not in that setting, invite them over for a game night or coffee.



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Learning how to set and protect boundaries as a mom gets easier with practice. Because you have gone without clear boundaries for so long, expect some initial push back from your friends and family. After you consistently maintain your boundaries, that push back will subside.

Remember that the key to strong, healthy boundaries is ultimately a strong identity. You cannot have one without the other. A minivan does not become a sports car just because someone says it is. When you remember who you are at your core, your boundaries are easier to enforce because they align with that.

See where I’m linking up!

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How to Rediscover Yourself After Marriage and Motherhood Series

  1. Introduction
  2. Why All Moms Need a Journal
  3. Determine Your Why for Self Discovery
  4. Find Your Cheerleaders
  5. DIY Positive Affirmation Cards
  6. Create Your SAHM Hierarchy of Needs
  7. The Hard Truth About Carving Out Me Time
  8. 5 Awesome Podcasts to Inspire Self Discovery
  9. How to Love Yourself First
  10. Stop Reacting to Life and Live Proactive
  11. How to Set and Protect Boundaries as a Mom
  12. How Moms Can Stop Being People Pleasers
  13. Why It’s Okay to Outgrow Relationships
  14. It’s Time to Break-up with Yourself
  15. Create a Mini Mom Oasis for Recharging
  16. Why Moms Should Date Themselves + How to Do It
  17. How to Get Your Free Time Back as a SAHM
  18. Turn Someday into Today
  19. Why You Should Throw Out Your Clothes
  20. Rediscover Your Old Hobbies
  21. How to Find New Hobbies You Love
  22. How to Create a Daily Self Care Routine
  23. Shut Down Your Negative Self Talk
  24. How a Haircut Can Help You Find Yourself
  25. Make a Bucket List You’ll Actually Complete
  26. Unique Alternative Ideas to Help You Find Yourself
  27. Why SAHM Need to Unplug Weekly
  28. 10 Mom Date Ideas You Can Do at Home
  29. 10 Mom Date Ideas to Get Out of the House
  30. Embracing Your Weird as a Mom
  31. How to Practice Mindful Reflection