How To Set Boundaries With Family After A Baby: Easy Guide
Standing up for yourself may feel difficult when you are pregnant or when you have your baby and you feel tired and overwhelmed. However, temporary discomfort will prevent long-term discomfort of suppressing how you feel and not giving yourself a voice. It will get easier with time, and as a result, won’t end up feeling resentful or regretful. This is an easy step-by-step guide on how to set boundaries with family after a baby. In this guide, you’ll also find useful tips and real-life examples of things you can say to start setting your boundaries.
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A step-by-step guide to How To Set Boundaries With Family After A Baby
Assess your needs
The first step to setting boundaries with family is to find out what you actually need. Assess your needs and values. Know that it’s your right to decide what you are comfortable with and what you are not.
Ask yourself questions such as:
- How do I feel about it?
- What do I need?
- What are my comfort levels?
- How do I feel in that situation?
- What doesn’t feel good?
If you find it hard to set boundaries, maybe ask yourself questions to find out why. Some questions you can ask yourself are:
- Did you grow up learning how to set boundaries?
- How have you felt when you set boundaries before?
- What do you think boundaries are for?
- What do you think it means to set boundaries?
Then it’s time to let go of any former beliefs about boundaries that are getting in your way such as “setting boundaries is rude” or “setting boundaries is selfish”
Instead, it’s time to learn that boundaries are healthy, and they are a crucial part of having healthy relationships. They are about knowing yourself and giving yourself a voice to be heard so that you can thrive.
Form your boundaries
Then you need to figure out what your boundaries are. Speak to your partner about what you both need and are comfortable with.
You can think about:
- What visiting times are best for you?
- How much help are you comfortable with?
- What parenting choices are you happy to discuss with others?
- How much time do you need for yourself?
Set the boundaries (right time, place, and mindset)
Prepare yourself so you can have the best mindset. If you find setting boundaries difficult, Embracing you therapy explains that a big part of practicing boundaries is tolerating the emotions that come with it. You could practice mindfulness before setting boundaries and use these affirmations to help you feel confident and self-assured. You could assess the best place and time to set the boundary. For example, if it is with someone who has been argumentative in the past, you could go out for coffee in a cafe. Or have your partner there for support.
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Tips for How To Set Boundaries With Family After A Baby
A great formula for setting a boundary is to first, acknowledge their intent by saying something positive, and then state the problem, and finally, give your solution.
Provide context but don’t over explain
Provide some context if necessary because it can help the other person understand where you are coming from. But don’t feel like you need to over-explain. You should never need to justify your reasons for putting your needs first. Anyone who cares about your well-being will, if not straight away, then will eventually respect that. Some examples of providing context:
- “I’m working with a professional in this area so I’d like to follow their advice right now”
- “I have researched this topic and would like to follow real data for now”
- “I need time for self-care so I don’t get burnt out”
Be clear, direct, and respectful
Be clear about your thoughts feelings, needs, and expectations. Be direct and specific about what you find acceptable and not acceptable. We can’t always assume people will know our boundaries unless we’ve communicated them. Being direct doesn’t mean being rude, however. As Talkspace explains, you can be both firm and kind. This is actually the best way to communicate for the best chance of a successful outcome.
Use “i” statements
Use “i” when communicating, instead of “you” to express your perspective and avoid coming across as aggressive or defensive. This helps you take ownership of your boundaries and avoids sounding accusatory or confrontational. For example instead of “You are invading my personal space” you could say “I feel uncomfortable when my personal space is invaded”
Be assertive with respect
Remain assertive with the balance of a respectful attitude. Sometimes we over-worry how someone will react if we have had our boundaries disrespected in the past, which can affect how we feel about making them now. Sometimes we may be surprised at how they are accepted. Remember to stay calm even if the other person reacts negatively. If they are not respectful of your boundaries, just give it time and step away if you need to. You absolutely should not accept someone behaving in a toxic way in response to you looking after yourself.
Boundary statement suggestions:
- “It’s nice that you want to visit so often. I prefer to have some alone time to recharge. You could visit at this time instead..”
- “I love that you want to see the baby, I can’t always be available on short notice. Please could you give me some more notice next time”
- “Thank you for asking. I need to prioritize my own commitments. I won’t be able to help with that this time”
- “Thank you for your interest. I’m not comfortable discussing that, let’s talk about something else”
- “I know this is important to you. I need some space to process my emotions at the moment, I’d appreciate it if you could give me some time”
- “Thank you for the kind invitation. I’m not comfortable attending events at those times/places, please understand if I need to decline invitations at this time”
- “Thank you for your concern. But I would prefer to do this in the way that feels right for us”
- “I know you are trying to help. I’m open to advice when I ask for it, but right now I’d like to figure things out for myself”
- “This has been great, however, I’ve realized this doesn’t work for us, so I’d appreciate it if we could change it to..”
After Setting Boundaries
If they want to discuss it further and you are comfortable, then you could offer a solution that aligns with your boundaries. If they are challenging your boundary then reaffirm it. You could say “I’ve made my decision, and I would appreciate it if we can move on from this topic, thank you”
And know that if someone crosses your boundary after you have clearly and respectfully asserted them, you have every right to reinforce the boundary or pull away to protect your energy.
When it feels tough, respond with self-care and self-compassion, rather than doubting yourself or beating yourself up over it. Setting boundaries is a part of self-care but can be draining, especially for those of us not used to it. Give yourself compassion, praise yourself for taking that step to advocate for yourself, and practice self-care ideas. Remember your boundaries are supposed to be advocating for your needs and protecting you.
Lastly, don’t put pressure on yourself to get it perfect each time. And know that feeling exhausted and overwhelmed while learning how to set boundaries is to be expected. Take it step by step, practice self-care and self-compassion and know that it takes practice.
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Let’s sum it up
Your boundaries are valid and necessary for your well-being. It’s important to advocate for your own comfort and life balance. So remember this when some people may struggle with accepting your boundaries initially. They might feel disappointed or take it personally, and it’s normal for you to feel some guilt. This just means you are human and you care about other people as well as yourself. Stay firm but empathetic, explaining that it’s not about them, but rather about your personal needs. In time, those around you will begin to respect your boundaries and your children are going to grow up learning what healthy boundary setting looks like. What better reason to learn and practice how to set boundaries with family after a baby?