What are boundaries, and why are they important?
In psychological terms, a boundary is a mental line that helps determine what is and is not “okay.” A boundary serves to “protect the integrity of an individual or group or that helps the person or group set realistic limits on participation in a relationship or activity,” according to the American Psychological Association.
Boundaries help you clarify what things you’re willing to accept, and what you’re not willing to accept. Understanding your own personal boundaries can help you manage expectations and is key to building thriving and healthy relationships with the people you love. When you have healthy boundaries:
• You feel safe and supported in your relationships.
• You are comfortable saying “no” when needed and know that others will respect your decision.
• You take responsibility for your actions.
• You are not overburdened with feelings of guilt or shame.
• You know you are valued, appreciated and respected as an individual.
Why do personal boundaries tend to get pulled out of shape during the perinatal period?
The perinatal period, which includes both pregnancy and the postpartum period, is a time of significant adjustment in an individual’s life. Routines change dramatically, and moms may feel challenged by a host of factors:
• Juggling multiple competing needs – of self, partner, baby, siblings and others
• Struggling with work-life balance
• Managing expectations of self and others
• Navigating changes to interpersonal dynamics in relationships
• Enduring the physical demands of the perinatal period
• Developing a perinatal mood and anxiety disorder – the most common complication of pregnancy, affecting about one in five moms during pregnancy or in the first year postpartum
• Using media more extensively
But there is good news. Times of change, adjustment and transition – and the perinatal period certainly qualifies – are also opportune times to examine your boundaries and reset them in ways that support your mental, physical, emotional and social wellbeing.
Five key tips to help moms reset personal boundaries
How do you know if your boundaries need a reset – and how do you get started resetting them? The first step is to reflect on your current boundaries and whether they’re serving you. Here are five key tips to help you evaluate, reflect and reset, so you can thrive during this time in your life.
Assess your needs
Our needs as individuals can change over time. And if you don’t know what you need, you can’t ask for it or work toward it. That’s why it’s a good idea to take time to think about what you need at this time in your life.
• What are your priorities? What’s most important, and what doesn’t matter as much?
• Are there things within your control that can be adjusted to align with your values?
• What can you stop doing? What could you delegate to someone else?
Part of being a mom is feeling like someone always needs something from you. But just as you can’t draw water from an empty well, you can’t give your children what they need if you are depleted and burned out.
• What small actions can you take each week to help you rest or rejuvenate?
• What parts of your life give you a sense of fulfillment?
Think about your risk tolerance
After living with COVID-19 for more than two years, we’ve all experienced high levels of uncertainty. As you approach future decisions for yourself and your family, how can you weigh the pros and cons in order to make the best decisions for your family? Keep in mind that no decision is without risk – weigh risk vs. risk to arrive at the best choice for you.
Consider your relationship with media and news
Our smartphones keep us connected – and not always in ways that benefit our wellbeing.
Can you find ways to balance staying informed with not letting it impact other parts of your life?
What can you do to reduce the mental space the news is taking?
Consider your supports
You don’t have to do it all. Look around you and see the people in your life who are willing to help share the load.