parent opinion

"I don’t do ‘mum guilt’." 21 women share their parenting boundaries.

Ask any parent and they'll tell you that raising a family is a full on 24/7 gig.

So setting boundaries around family life and that all-important 'you time' is pretty damn important. 

And we're not the only ones who think so. 

Author Sally Hepworth recently shared a list of things she says 'no to' on Instagram, after speaking about it on the FORTY podcast. 

From refusing to drop off her kids at parties to not entering the school grounds, Sally listed a bunch of boundaries she's put in place as a parent. 


In light of the post, we asked the Mamamia community to share the 'rules' they've set in their own lives. And people's opinions were divided... to say the least. 

From no playdates during the week to setting boundaries when you're in the shower, here's what 21 mums do to make their busy lives that little bit easier. 


But first... Watch: Be a good mum. Post continues below. 

Video via Mamamia. 

'I won’t take my kids to my hairdressing appointment.'

"I won’t take them grocery shopping, only in must do circumstances. VERY rarely do I have to. I won’t take them to my hairdressing appointment. That’s for me ALONE. I won’t apologise for their loudness, they’re kids. I won’t feel guilt for parenting choices/life choices I make. I refuse mum guilt." - Jessica.

'I won’t take my three kids to the supermarket by myself.'

"I don’t wash on Wednesdays, I won’t go hunting for my husband's dirty clothes and I won’t take all three of my kids to the supermarket by myself after school." - Elizabeth.

'No visits on Christmas mornings.'

"My Christmas morning rules are no visits to us or from us before lunch. It started when our eldest was one. 20 years later, it's still the same rule. It is a precious child/parent time, not about making others happy. It has worked for us." - Cara. 

'I don't force my kids to finish their food.'

"My parenting boundaries for my two kids are:

- I don't force my kids to finish their food.

- They fight their own battles (unless they come and specifically ask me to help)

- I don't go to the playground with them 80 per cent of the time (dad is better at playing with them)." - Hiba. 

'I don't do Christmas cards for their friends.'

"Christmas cards for their friends. If they want to give a card to everyone in their class, it’s over to them." - Mez. 

'No one can interrupt my shower time.'

"NO ONE is allowed to interrupt my shower time of an evening. I have told my hubby and my kids that unless you are dying or a stranger is walking around our house, DO NOT COME INTO THE BATHROOM." - Rikki.

'We don't do playdates during the week.'

"No playdates during the week! My husband and I both work and our son is in primary school. After school time is family time, dinner and getting to bed at a reasonable time!" - Justine.


'I only fold my own clothes.'

"I don’t fold clothes for anyone else except myself because I’m the only one in the house who cares." - Chloe.

'I don’t hang up washing outside.'

"I throw nearly everything in our heat pump dryer and for things that have to air dry I hang up in the laundry. With three kids under four producing over 10 loads each week and in Melbourne with unpredictable weather - I’d otherwise spend my life hanging and bringing in washing. Also, I don’t do anything to do with the garden." - Sarah.

'We set a boundary about when people could visit.'

"When my oldest son was a baby he had extremely bad reflux and screamed bloody murder from 4pm-12am so our boundary was that no one was to visit during this time. My MIL was not very happy about that boundary and rarely visit but we had to do that to make evenings calmer for us." - Rebecca.

'I refuse to be available 24/7 for anyone.'

"I refuse to go on any committees, they are just always full of stress and drama I don’t need. Never again.

- I refuse to attend any MLM ‘parties’ or support them in any way.

- I don’t vacuum or wash my floors and rarely cook. I don’t bake.

- I refuse to be available 24/7 for anyone, including my children, unless there is an emergency. 

- I refuse to do things simply out of ‘obligation’ or ‘expectation’. 

- I am happy to drop off/pick up my kids from parties but I won’t attend them and seriously wish other parents didn’t hang around at other people’s children’s parties." - Emma.

'No sports on Sundays.'

"My boundary is no sports on Sundays. Our whole week is packed with school, sport and music. Saturday mornings are spent driving three kids to sports all over Sydney. Sunday is a no-go zone. It’s family time, rest time, leisure time." - Kristy.

'Toilet time is my time.'

"I have actually sat my family down and told them that toilet time is my time. The moment I sit on the loo is not an invitation for them to ask questions, tell me about their day or complain about something. It’s a short space of time that I need to perform normal bodily functions and I would like to do that in peace, please. They struggled at first…. But the toilet is now mine!" - Peta.

Listen to This Glorious Mess podcast, a twice-weekly look at parenting as it truly is: confusing, exhausting, inspiring, funny, and full of surprises. Post continues below. 

'My in-laws don't stay over.'

"I won’t host my in-laws at my house and I won’t stay at theirs... everyone needs their own space during overnight/weekend visits." - Erin.

'I'm happy to take my kids to activities but not swimming.'

"I'm on committees but only two at any one time, and I pick which ones I want to be on.

- I talk to the teachers and parents in the school playground but only in the afternoon as my husband does the drop off in the morning.


- I'm happy to take my kids to activities but not swimming. I hate the smell of chlorine, the humidity, the noise, the dampness. So my husband does it as he likes it.

- I bake but not every week. I make the kids' birthday cakes but within limits and my capabilities and capacity." -Caroline.

'I don't play with my kids at the park.'

"I have a rule that I don’t play with my kids when we are at the park (unless I really feel like it!). It’s a time that they can play with other kids and make their own fun… while I listen to podcasts." - Haley.

'I only let one kid do an extracurricular activity at a time.'

"At this point I only let one kid do an extracurricular activity at a time. This is because I won’t just drop them off, so if I have to stay it’s too hard to do too many because I work so they take it in turns. This only works because one really wants to do one activity, but I haven’t encouraged the other one on purpose because I can’t manage it all. They have to entertain themselves three afternoons a week while I finish work (I work from home) and anything goes on those afternoons in terms of screen time. They can be on screens the entire time if they want as I can’t monitor that and work at the same time. It’s curious though because they have ultimate freedom on those days, I find they don’t actually use the tablets the whole time. They self-regulate really well so I think I should be lazy more often." - Jess.

'People aren't allowed to smoke near my kids.'

"No one is to smoke in close proximity to my kids, or hold my babies if they are a smoker (exception being that they’ve showered or changed their clothing). And whooping cough vaccination for the first eight weeks should you wish to visit." - Alicia.

'Having battles at the dinner table.'

"I'm no longer going to playdates with my toddlers at other people's houses (birthday parties the exception).

- Having battles at the dinner table. If they don't want to eat it, they don't have to. I won't be serving alternatives but I won't be arguing about it.

- Making them bathe every single night. Every other night is fine for now." - Kim.

'I have a "no fundraising" rule.'

"I have a firm ‘no fundraising’ rule. I just directly pay some money I feel is reasonable. I’ve heard some schools have now moved to an optional fundraising levy at the start of the year and covers projected fundraising for the year. This would be great!" - Marianne.

'I don’t go to every school event.'

"I don’t do ‘mum guilt’. For me, it’s such a wasted emotion. Normally I’m too sensitive, but when I was pregnant I matter-of-factly decided that I wasn’t going to do ‘mum guilt’. I needed to return to full-time paid employment and there was nothing I could do about that. But what I could control was my mental attitude and what effect that has on my child. Amazingly, for 99.9 per cent of my daughter’s life so far, it works.


- I don’t volunteer for committees or events. (But I do attend the meetings if there is one to provide support.) Being in full-time paid employment is enough time away from my child. I do hope to be involved like that when she’s older and ‘give back’ to the community then. That said, I’m the first to volunteer to cover school library or reading books.

- I don’t go to every school event - but I also don’t miss every school event.

- I don’t ever accept bath towels not hung back in the bathroom or clothes left on the floor.

- At bedtime, I don’t always read every page in a storybook. When you know them by heart, you know how to miss pages and not make the story jump.

- I don’t accept lost school clothes or not bringing home school notes etc. It’s surprising how being so firm on this so quickly became an accepted responsibility of my child." - Kylie.

Do you have any parenting boundaries that you put in place in your life? Let us know in the comments below 

Feature Image: Getty/Instagram@sallyhepworth

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