By: Heidi Schertz, Mom of three
Setting up physical boundaries for yourself after having kids.
The first three months of parenthood I was never alone. I’m not joking. Never (and this was pre-COVID). I thought being a good mom meant never letting my baby out of my sight. But I started noticing a deep well of resentment that was created. My husband left every day. He ate lunch when he wanted. He peed alone. He pooped alone.
I was jealous. And because I was jealous I became angry. Then there was a moment when we were arguing and he asked me why I was so frustrated. My entire life spilled out of my eyes. Then, my sweet husband asked another super simple question, “Why are you taking the baby into the bathroom with you? Why are you waiting until I get home to go pee.”
I sputtered. “But, but! ….. I thought I had to.”
Taking care of the physical basics is important, especially now. Especially for parents. It sounds ridiculous but if you are upset because your basic survival needs are not getting met, then you are not going to be able to meet your child/ children’s needs. Nor will you be able to meet your own needs in higher areas of thinking.
When we talk about setting up boundaries we are really creating a safe space in our homes for ourselves. When we talk about basics we mean eating, sleeping, body functions, and drinking water.
You have permission to eat meals: A lot of parents struggle with this. Especially when the baby is so young. But a lot of them also don’t change their behavior when the baby is older and is capable of waiting. What routines can you set up so that healthy food is readily available to you? Every other Sunday I make two soups and freeze them into jars. At the beginning of the week, I pull out a couple to defrost. I know that I have a complete lunch ready to go. Most of my soups are slow cooker soups so they don’t take much effort. The reward is great though.
You have permission to sleep: This is going to look different for each person. How much sleep do you need? 6 hours? The full 8? As the parent of a child, our sleep is not going to be perfect. However, it can be ENOUGH. We can still advocate for ourselves. Maybe that means trying to take a nap during the day. Or perhaps it means going to bed early. Creating healthy sleep habits is one of the most challenging aspects of my parenthood. I struggle to balance personal time alone with my sleep needs. By recognizing the days I need a little extra and asking for help from my partner I can achieve a balance.
You have permission to pee and poop alone: This might not bug you. I know one of my friends doesn’t care. Another friend has a family policy that she is not to be disturbed, and has since her first day as a parent. You also have permission to go to the bathroom WHEN YOU NEED TO. Make sure your child is in a safe spot and go.
You have permission to drink your coffee or tea or cocoa hot. Or cold. Or however, you like it: It is OK to sit and drink that coffee. Unless your house is burning down nothing bad is going to happen in the five minutes it takes to finish a cup.
You have permission to drink water: OK, so this last one is a total Mom move. But you have to hydrate. Set a full cup of water by your bed and drink it when you wake up. For those of you who are doing night feedings, set up a water bottle near you and drink it.
What are your boundary areas?
Which of the above areas are you needing work in? How can you set a new boundary and stick to it. Starting these habits are important. Next time we’re going to be talking about mental and emotional needs. If you can advocate for yourself in your basic boundaries then you’ll have a much easier time when it comes to navigating mental health, toxic relationships, and the holidays.