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Dear Mom: It's OK to Set Boundaries with Your Children

Sometimes moms need to set healthy boundaries. Communicating care and love for our children, but also setting limits and time for ourselves can be tricky. We're here to tell you, its ok!

I have been tucking children in the bed for years.

Years I tell ya.

It’s part of our nighttime norm and routine and I honestly get real satisfaction from fulfilling this duty and delight.

I used to tuck everybody in. Literally. All of my fantastic five.

I used to go around to all of the beds and shove the covers underneath the toes, shoulders and bottoms of each of one of the kids.

But then the girls got older.  Then they went off to college. 

Five tucks, prayers, and bedtime chats got reduced to three.

Three little boys that were now sleeping in a tri-bunk bed.

So now… the only one I could comfortably reach to tuck in the bed was the youngest of my children.

And I’ve been tucking him in faithfully.

I’ve prayed over all three of them faithfully too… but there was no way I was gonna tuck all three of them in when two of those little men were on a top bunk.

No way.

But after a few years of not receiving his “supertuck”, my almost 12 year old asked me to tuck him in.  Almost immediately after, his 10 year old brother asked for a “supertuck” too.

So, that night I tucked all three of those boys in.

I was exhausted.

They didn’t care that I was old or that I was hoping my back didn’t go out or that I was praying to God that I didn’t miss the step on the ladder on the way down.

That’s motherhood, doing lots of things we don’t want to do when we don’t want to do it, and giving our very life’s energy to accomplish what will bless our children.

But let me tell you something… that tri-tuck-in-the-bunk happened one time.

Cuz sometimes motherhood means you draw some boundary lines.

I announced to those precious little souls that as much as I would love to tuck them all in all the time, my precious little back wouldn’t be able to handle that and I intended to put them on rotation.

Yes.  That’s right.


One “supertuck” done for only one kid each night.

Cuz it’s okay if Mommy meets the needs of her kiddos AND meets her own needs as well.

Yes.  We are moms.

We save the world. We conquer laundry. We do dishes. We stay up late with teenagers and get up early with toddlers. We help with last-minute school projects and rescue adolescent girls from exaggerated make-up fiascos. We cheer on our sons at their 1,589th t-ball game when what we really want to do is fake a tummy-ache so we can stay home alone.

We are moms and we do a lot for our kids.

We should.

But this is me… telling you… that every now and again, it’s okay if you think about yourself.

It is healthy for your children to know that their dear mother can save their day but that she can also save herself.

And sometimes, in order to do that, you need to set a healthy boundary or two and tell your children what you can or cannot do, when you can or cannot do it, and how you will or will not attend to their needs.

So it’s okay if they bring their own laundry to the laundry room and learn to do their own laundry.  It’s perfectly fine to schedule one late night with your teens or make your toddlers wait ‘til you’ve finished your morning quiet time.  You are still a good mom if the project doesn’t win but you all got eight hours of sleep or if your daughter watches a makeup tutorial or two on You-tube while you give an encouraging nod in her direction as you read an encouraging blog from your own tablet, smartphone, computer. And if you miss one t-ball game, the world won’t end.

There is a fine line between selfless love and an unhealthy self-neglect.

Love your children.

Care for them well.

But, in the process, don’t forget to take love and take care of yourself a little too.



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