Let’s talk boundaries with kids.
As the parent, you are responsible to help your child learn healthy boundaries with themselves and the people around them.
“Children are not born with boundaries. They internalise boundaries from external relationships and discipline. In order for children to learn who they are and what they are responsible for, their parents have to have clear boundaries with them and relate to them in ways that help them learn their own boundaries.” Boundaries with Kids, 18 Cloud & Townsend
The basics of boundaries is to have routines and schedule. A morning routine, a daytime routine, and an evening/bedtime routine.
It’s also about having rules for screen time, house chores, responsibilities and such things.
Boundaries also includes limits – providing consequences for lines crossed.
I’m hoping you’re on board with all of that.
But I want to dive a little deeper and look at some things we don’t always consider. These are boundaries we often don’t implement and it leaves us drained as moms.
Here are some boundaries you should set with your kids that will lower your frustration and level of overwhelm.
You are not your child’s jungle gym. Teach a basic proper respect for others by not allowing them to be all over you, hurt you, hit you, pull your hair, or bite you. You do not have to tolerate this just because they are small and don’t understand.
You are not your child’s personal entertainer, and do not need to be accessible 100% of the time. It’s healthy for them to learn to entertain themselves for short periods. This may take some training, but can be done if you decide and persevere.
Related: How to take a break from your kids
You can teach your children to understand that your time with Jesus is important and they need to respect it. Teach them to play quietly, listen to scripture songs or a recorded Bible story while you have your quiet time. Give them special, quiet toys to play with while you have your devotions and make it a special time for them too.
It’s a healthy thing for kids to learn to be alone and entertain themselves. It boosts creativity, and creates calmness. I’m a firm believer in giving children time alone to be by themselves.
I realise this is a controversial topic, but sleeping in a separate bed teaches your child that they are their own person and not a part of you. Your sleep will be better (once you get over the guilt), and you will feel more your own person and more willing to engage with your kids because you’ve both had time apart.
Sleeping in separate rooms allows your marriage the time and space it needs. Marriage is the primary relationship in the family, and teaching your kids to respect Mom and Dad’s alone time is important.
Related: Should you co-sleep with your child?
It’s healthy to help kids learn not to interrupt while you are speaking. Teach them to stand next to you and touch your arm when they want to speak or need you when you are in the middle of a conversation. In time they will learn to be patient and self-controlled.
In looking back over all of these, I think these are all boundaries with yourself that apply to your kids. These are things you are not prepared to tolerate or indulge, and they teach your child self-governance and self-control – a most useful life skill for anyone to have.
The reason we often don’t implement these boundaries could be multiple:
Get over the mom-guilt of feeling that you have to be physically and emotionally available to your child their every waking moment.
You do not have to be, and, in fact, cannot be, everything to your child all the time. You need some space for yourself too so that you can be a better mom.
If you are spending focused time with your kids every day, meeting their basic needs, making eye contact, and delighting in them, then it is perfectly healthy for you all to have time apart.
As you practice these boundaries, you will find yourself less irritated and overwhelmed and more able to enjoy your children.