"I don’t answer calls after 10pm." 20 women on the boundaries they reluctantly had to set.

If there's one thing we've all learnt over the past year, it's that slowing down is actually pretty damn important. 

But setting boundaries around work or your social life is much easier said than done. 

Which is why an Instagram post by author Sally Hepworth listing the boundaries she put in place for her followers about had us feeling all the feels. 

"You know when you’re cruising along and all of a sudden you realise you’re totally overwhelmed? And worse, overwhelmed by entirely the wrong things? This is where I have been the past few weeks," she began the post. 

"I realised boundaries were exactly what I needed in order to beat the overwhelm and better prioritise my life." 


She went on to say that as of today, she won't be able to do any more book club visits and has set in place new boundaries about how people can contact her. 

"I have to admit it feels a little uncomfortable putting up these boundaries because I have always prided myself on being a fairly boundary-free person, also at the age of 40 I am still shamefully desperate for people to like me... but Glennon Doyle says it is the thing to do, so what am I supposed to do?"

We hear you Sally. 

Which is why we asked the Mamamia community to share the boundaries they reluctantly had to set in their lives to carve out that all-important 'me time'. 

Here's what they had to say. 

Work boundaries.

'I don’t talk about work related things in my lunch break.'

"I don’t have my work email on my phone or home laptop. Once 5pm hits I switch off from all that. Also, I don’t answer calls after 10pm (unless it’s immediate family - my son, mum, dad or brother) I don’t talk about work related things during my lunch break that’s my time to reset. My phone goes on do not disturb at 10pm every night. I don’t answer my phone before 8am from work colleagues. If it’s important, they can send me a message... I found I needed to do this for my mental wellbeing and to stop burn out." - Kelly.

'I turn my work phone off on the weekend.'

"I turn my work phone off at 6pm on Friday and don't turn it on until Monday morning." - Catriona.

'My work laptop is just for work.'

"My work laptop is strictly only for work related things. My personal laptop is strictly leisure, online shopping, YouTube, streaming etc. No changing between ever. Also, I don't get any social notifications on my phone. I only get news and texts. I did this for the HSC and I just never turned them back on and I love it. All my friends hate it and I can be the worse to contact but for me it means that I don’t feel like I have to reply to someone instantly, only when I’m free." - Mikayla.

'I had to enforce a boundary with my partner about separating home and work.'

"I mostly work from home, and a hard boundary I've had to enforce with my partner is around separating home and work - for example I won't do housework during 'breaks'. Work time is for working! I have an auto-response on my email that says thank you but I may not be able to get back to you. Working in media and communications means you're constantly inundated with - well - communication, and things other people consider urgent. But the reality is, everything can't be urgent. I leave that to myself to prioritise." - Tamara.

'I go to gym after I log off work.'

"I schedule my gym class for 6pm every weekday to ensure I log off work by 5:30pm. I work from home so I find this super helpful." - Allee.

'I have two different WhatsApp channels with my best friend.'

"I have a weird boundary thing from setting up a business with my best mate. We have two WhatsApp channels - one for work, and one for everything else. This means that if I get pinged on the work one outside of working hours, then I have full permission to ignore and address it later on when I'm 'online'. And if I get a notification from the other one, then I know it's just my mate probably sending a dumb meme or making plans for a wine night. It was super hard to get into the flow of it and for a while it was a lot of 'WRONG CHAT' messages, but it's evened out now and works really well." - Lucy.

Personal boundaries.

'I turn my phone off when I go on holidays.'

"I essentially turn my phone off while I'm on holiday. I use it as a camera and that is it. I tell my close loved ones that I am incommunicado for that time period, and unless someone is dying, I won't respond to any calls or messages. Needless to say - this goes for work, social media, news, etc. I think being able to completely turn off from everything is really important and something we have become almost afraid to do as a society. Sometimes I don't even take my phone with me and that is the best. My family always had a saying, 'If someone has died don't worry about it - they'll still be dead tomorrow.' Maybe it's an Irish thing?!" - Siobhan. 

'I never answer phone calls.'

"I don't answer my phone. If someone really needed me they would email me or text me or leave a voice message. But I get too many calls from PRs/telemarketers that I don't have the emotional energy to answer. - Clare. 

'I make sure I'm in a good head space.'

"I try not to do anything new or out of the ordinary unless I am in a good head space. It never works out well for me if I do." - Alyssa-Jane.

Listen to Mamamia Out Loud, Mamamia’s podcast with what women are talking about this week. Post continues below.

Social life.

'I said goodbye to a toxic friend.'

"I cut out a toxic friend... well I should say she cut me out and I accepted (I think she expected me to apologise and want to be her friend again because it was over such a trivial thing). Not being anxious around any of my friends any more is life changing." - Emmeline.

'I don't do anything that involves setting an alarm clock on the weekend.'

"I only say yes to things I ACTUALLY want to do and am committed to. I never make plans that feel like an obligation. I try not to do anything that involves setting an alarm clock on the weekend. I turned off WhatsApp notifications. I also keep one of my weekend days totally free. Either Friday, Saturday, or Sunday needs to be completely for myself." - Polly.

'I try and leave Sundays free!'

"I try and leave Sundays free! I just like being able to do whatever I want to do. Having obligations before the working week somehow makes me feel anxious. I'll still do things obviously, but generally if someone suggests a Sunday night dinner I'm like 'can we do a different night?'" - Renny.

"No obligations on a Sunday afternoon. I need that time to get myself, kids and house ready for the week ahead. If we go out or do much on a Sunday afternoon it is inevitably an awful, crazy week and the kids and I meltdown. One afternoon to get us all set up (or caught up) makes a massive difference, even if it does restrict our social life a bit." - Pip.

'I stopped visiting everyone from my hometown.' 

"I live four and a half hours away from where I grew up and I’ve stopped running around visiting everyone when I go back. I now just see my family and my bestie. I’ve also stopped going back for weekends during the school term, unless it’s a milestone event.... I was always the one making all of the effort, and I just got sick of it. The people I used to go out of my way for know where I live and can come and see me if they want to." - Cathy.


'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. 

'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.

'I unfollowed a relative on social media'.

"I had to unfollow and mute a relative on social media whose controversial statuses were really starting to bother me. I found no longer being reminded of their opinions on a daily basis made me feel less angry." - Tamara.

'I cut my mother out of my life.'

"I’ve basically had to cut my mother off - she has been so toxic in my life. She’s very passive aggressive and narcissistic. She’s also a screamer and has screamed at me in front of my young son - it’s sad, but it’s not okay to treat family like she does, and in my mid-40s I’m finally over it." - Ali.

'Tuesday is my recharge day.'

"We have ‘no Tuesday’. My son and I stay home Tuesdays and use it to recharge. If anyone wants to catch up they either need to come to our house or arrange a different day. It means we have a definite day to recharge and recoup no matter what is on the agenda." - Rachel.

'I asked my husband for help with the housework.'

"I’m a stay at home Mum, during the day my job is to be Mum. Earlier this year I told my husband that I needed help with the housework, he didn’t get it because the house was always clean when he got home. We have a rule now to do a tidy up once the kids go to bed. I do the odd job throughout the day but my days are so much more enjoyable now." - Carlie.

'No kids are allowed when I catch up with my friends.'

"The most challenging boundary I’ve had to put in place with my girlfriends is - 'no kids allowed for our catch ups'. I see them maybe every three months and at the beginning when they all started having kids, they brought them. But I soon found that I was not catching up with my friends as they were too busy looking after their kids... As a childless woman in her 40s, I value my time and I don’t enjoy a three hour catch up with maybe a 15 minutes of conversation because my friends are distracted. At the beginning it was a hard boundary to put in place, but now my girlfriends love it! They say their husbands know when they catch up with me it’s strictly no kids, so they know they must and have to look after the kids... It was the best decision/boundary I ever put in place." - Penelope.  

Have you set any boundaries in your life? Let us know in the comments below. 

Feature Image: Getty/Mamamia.