Parenting: Self-Imposed Boundaries


Don’t be afraid to set those self-imposed boundaries.


As a mom who “solo parents” about 60 percent of the time, I learned pretty quickly that I was going to have to make some hard choices if I was going to parent in a way I felt good about.

When my boys were about 10 months and 3 years old, I decided that on nights when I was in charge of doing dinner and bedtime by myself, I needed to be home by 4 pm or 4:30 pm at the latest.  I had learned that coming home later than that usually didn’t go well, and I had a hard time staying regulated and patient through the stress of caring for them while also making dinner, getting them ready for bed, doing two separate bed time routines, etc …

It felt limiting at times (and embarrassing) to set that boundary for myself – often friends were still at the playground, or meeting for dinner, or birthday parties were just starting— but every time I didn’t hold that boundary for us I just regretted it.  I would get home, kids would be melting down, I would be overwhelmed and eventually melt down, and our days would end with disconnection and shame instead of connection.  

Sometimes, I did find ways to make it to some later events by asking my Mom or friends to help with bedtime afterwards or finding a friend who could take my older son to whatever event was happening while I stayed home with the younger two, but for the most part – on the nights my husband wasn’t home – we had a pretty “early curfew” in my early years of mothering.  

Now my kids are 5, 8, and 11, and I’ve realized over the last few months that my self imposed curfew has been gradually getting later.  A lot of things I used to opt out of or had to figure out how to manage all of a sudden feel more doable on my solo parenting nights.  

Tonight, I took my kids out to ice cream to celebrate the end of the school year. At some point, I looked down at my watch and my eyes instantly filled with tears as I realized it was already 8 pm.  These weren’t tears of overwhelm, like they would have been a few years ago – they were tears of relief and celebration.  I’m so glad I could see the boundary and help I needed in order to stay regulated through those solo parenting nights, and I’m so glad to be on the other side of that season of “no”s and “not tonight”s or “not this time”s.

It leaves me wondering what sorts of boundaries and help I’ll need in this new season … and wondering why we don’t talk more about the limits and help we need in our parenting journeys.

Have you discovered any self imposed boundaries you needed in order to be parent you want to be?


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Rachel Hodges
Rachel is originally from the Chicagoland area, but has grown deep Saint Louis roots over the last fifteen years. She married her high school sweetheart and they live in the Metro East with their three children and spunky puppy. Rachel is the kind of Mom who loves watching her kids grow and learn new things, and also wishes time would slow down a bit. Rachel and her husband love to travel together, dream together, and enjoy time with friends and family. Rachel loves getting lost in a story and is always up for a book or podcast recommendation. She loves time outside, good questions, long conversations, and a good theme to plan a party or meal around. Rachel works as a Child, Adolescent and Family Therapist who provides counseling, parent coaching and equipping. She loves helping parents strengthen their relationships with their children, and helping parents understand their children through a developmental lens. Rachel believes we were all meant to be heard, feel known and be absolutely delighted in.


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