It never fails. Whenever I’m out and about with my kids, people are always commenting about how well-behaved and loving they are. While I like to think this is the norm, I’m told time and time again that it’s not. Recently, I shared a Periscope broadcast on 10 easy tips for moms to recharge, reconnect and FLY (First Love Yourself). Tips eight and nine were all about setting boundaries for yourself; first with your extended family and friends, and then with your children.
Not only will setting boundaries create an opportunity to teach your children respect. But it will also allow you to create some much needed “me time” for yourself.
You can’t possibly find time for self-care if you don’t learn how to set boundaries in every area of your life.
When you sit down for dinner, do you prefer a full, fresh, hot plate of food, or a cold plate with leftovers? When we don’t make the choice to take care of ourselves, we’re making the choice to serve our families the leftovers.
When I went through postpartum depression, I didn’t understand what it meant to make myself a priority. I didn’t understand that not allowing myself to recharge and regroup meant that I was taking all of my frustrations out on my family. Self-care is definitely not selfish; it is necessary and it is critical to our responsibilities as moms.
So here are 5 critical tips to setting boundaries that help you raise respectable kids, so that you can then make time and room for your own self-care.
1. Communicate with them on their level
My kids are four, six, and eight. I can’t explain things to my eight year-old in the same way I do with my four year-old. And, even with the six year-old, I have to tweak things for her level of comprehension.
Related: 5 Things you should never do in front of your kids, especially if you don’t want them doing it
I have to use shorter sentences and more story telling with the younger ones. But my son can understand longer sentences and less stories. In order for children to understand, you have to speak to them in their language.
2. Consistency and Repetition is key
Don’t think that just because you say something once or sometimes even four times that it will stick. New habits take time to form. And, with kids especially, it takes them longer to adjust to new schedules or new routines. Don’t get frustrated when it’s not smooth sailing. Keep repeating it until they get it, and repeating means being consistent.
3. Teach them manners
No, it’s not okay for your kids to walk into your room or bathroom unannounced. It’s not okay that they interrupt you mid-sentence with their “emergency”. It’s never too early to start teaching them simple manners because it’s our responsibility to prepare them for adulthood and the real world.
My kids know, when the door is closed, they are supposed to knock first AND wait for permission to enter. They also know when grown-ups are talking, and they need to speak, they need to say “excuse me”. Nothing pains me more than to see a child being disrespectful, because those disrespectful children will grow up to be disrespectful adults.
4. No is a complete sentence
This is true even for our children. No doesn’t mean yes. No doesn’t mean, we’ll see. No doesn’t mean ask me again in five minutes. No doesn’t mean later. No means no. So when we use it, it’s our responsibility to stick with it so that they understand that we actually mean what we say.
If your kids know that you’ll change your mind to a yes if they just keep asking, then they will do it. Stand firm in your decisions. But, when the situation calls for it, you can explain to them your reasoning.
We all have responsibilities, but we have to make it a choice that we want to “feel good without feeling guilty.” Please understand that learning to love yourself more does not mean you love your kids any less. Watch the replay below to see why mom guilt is a myth and we all need to do like Elsa, and let it go (sorry, had to go there, but it’s true).
5. Punish with love
Growing up, I don’t recall my parents ever apologizing to us for anything (wrong or otherwise). My husband and I are quick to apologize to our kids when we make mistakes or disrespect them. Yes, there is a such thing as disrespecting your child.
Even when they are in the wrong, and get in trouble rightfully so, we explain to them why what they did was wrong. When they argue with each other, we have them redirect their words with love. We explain to them the importance of always protecting one another, and treating each other with respect whether we’re there or not.
We also try to reinforce the importance of personal space, because…well, boundaries. They may not fully understand now, but our prayer is that they are building an unbreakable bond that will last a lifetime.
BMWK: How do you go about setting boundaries for your kids and creating time for yourself?