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When you discover you are pregnant, there is so much that goes through your head. The last thing you think about are the boundaries that could be very useful down the track.

My partner and I had some great conversations about various things during our pregnancy, and were very clear about some of the boundaries we wanted in place. After all, once bubs has arrived you have so much going on, that trying to sound rational when explaining your decisions to some can be tricky, especially when hormones and emotions are already running high.

Now when I say “In-Laws”, really I am referring to ALL the annoying, over bearing, or ‘too’ helpful friends and family. This is when you really will wish you had some boundaries in place, if you don’t already, as you will find yourself accommodating others when you really don’t have the energy to.

You don’t want to find yourself trying to please everyone, at the expense of your own happiness or energy reserves, and then resent it later.

Lots of people would come and visit and I’d end up making cups of tea, entertaining, getting nothing done and getting no rest. Yet with hindsight I also know that my friends and family would have love to have helped out more had they known how sick I was with PND, but a) they didn’t realise, or b) they could see something was wrong but had no idea how to help/what I would find useful. So, because I never wanted to go into that dark place again, I decided a gentle but firm setting of boundaries was in order…” LB, Brisbane

Here are my top 4 boundaries worth putting some thought into:

  • Personal Space

As a volunteer with a large national organisation, I had to put up boundaries around the number of times I was called a day / week, or the unannounced visits for really minor stuff. Admittedly I was the Treasurer / Purser for our office, but some days during pregnancy I would get 3-4 calls a day on the most ridiculous things and then visits to the house if I didn’t take the calls. Post baby I knew this was going to have to stop, so put up some very firm boundaries around personal space, not just with them but with others too.

  • Timeframe for a visitor exclusion zone

We decided that the first 2 weeks we wanted to be completely selfish and just spend time connecting, bonding and settling in together as a family.

(This didn’t quite work out as expected due to complications during birth and our little one ending up in Special Care Nursery, or the old Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, as some of you may know it by. Then 3 hours after being discharged I was readmitted with a mystery virus and was put on a drip. My partner needed support and help coping, as he was trying to spend time with the baby and then coming down to my ward to spend time with me and update me on DS’s progress. He was at the hospital around 06.30 each morning and not leaving until late at night. With my family overseas, we decided that his immediate family would be allowed to visit, bring in food, clothes etc anything that helped take the pressure off him.)

  • Toys

We didn’t want a house full of toys that were going to sit around collecting dust, or make half the house look like a ‘Toys “R” Us’ Closing Down Sale. So we asked that toys be kept to a minimum and supplied a list of items we wanted /needed. Anything from special keepsake items, to clothing, equipment, children’s books etc

  • Food chain

If people wanted to bring a gift but weren’t sure what, food was always welcome! Food we could portion up and freeze down for the tough days or share with our guests and enjoy together. Some of which I even managed to portion up into baby tubs for DS’s first foods…

NB: Remember to stay focused on your goals, but be flexible enough to change the plan if circumstances change.

Don’t know how to ask for help, or just not very good at it? 

Here is something one of my interstate clients created. I thought it was genius and it certainly takes the pressure off directly asking for help if you are still learning this skill.

After learning lots of lessons with her first child, particularly around asking for help, she went so far as to put a note next to her front door….

We love seeing our friends and family! We just ask that you make your visit brief and peaceful. 

Offering some kind of assistance around the house would also be much appreciated during these early days. 

Helpful activities include: 

  • quietly wash the dishes, 
  • take laundry home, 
  • bring in & fold clean washing, 
  • sweep floors / vacuum, 
  • clean the bathroom/toilets, 
  • check our food supply, 
  • offer to shop for food
  • bring yummy snacks 
  • prepare a simple meal for the family (gluten free & no cheese, cream or strong spices please) 
  • pick up clutter around the house 
  • take xxx to the park
  • Any other act of love you feel inclined to do 

Any little thing you do would mean so much. Your gift of time and energy is appreciated by the whole family. 

WELCOME TO OUR HOME

“… I wrote this up before I gave birth. It was printed up and ready to stick on our front door straight away. Between that and even asking for assistance via Facebook, things have been much better this time! The Facebook technique worked an absolute treat – I had offers of support from a number of people I never really saw / had never met in person before, and now have a friend of my sisters (who is also one of my FB friends) offer to come and clean my bathroom & bring me lunch every fortnight. This last week, I texted her to say “forget the bathroom this week, I need help with DD so I can get some rest! She’s not been sleeping!” So, this friend came over and hung out my washing, made me lunch, washed up and chilled out with the baby outside while I managed to get a lovely bit of time out. Learning to ask for help, and then being okay with RECEIVING is a huge thing for some of us!”

For more information, please read: “Down to Earth Birth Book” by Jenny Blyth Good luck and if you need support, give Vicky a call on 1300 76 78 77, we are here to help you!

  • When I used to travel 1/2 hour trip to relatives with a baby I wasn’t about to leave too soon.
    However I used to do whatever washing was there, put the 2nd load on and hang out the 1st load while the machine was working. Then the 3rd if there was one. Sometimes the 1st load was dry by the time I finished handing out the 1st load. On a couple of occasions I did a bit of gardening while the washing was drying. They had some airers so if the washing was dry enough to hang inside I would do that to save the new Mum having to do that. It also gave her time to relax while I did that while baby was asleep or at least settled.

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  • A very interesting article. I’m sure everyone can learn something from it!

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  • I am in the quandary of being an annoying in law soon :/ I always thought I would rock up before the birth to help out, and I would help out. But it seems I’m not wanted that early for that. Even though my daughter in laws parents are a stones throw away and will probably visit every day :(

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  • It’s really hard though when you set boundaries and they are ignored time and time again and you can’t do anything about it as you can’t turn them away as they ahve dropped in unexpected AGAIN!

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  • Thanks for sharing this interesting article.

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  • Some of these are brilliant. I usually take food around to my friends that can be frozen in case they have lots!


    • yeah that is a great idea, freeze and no wastages

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  • I wish I had read this years ago-some very helpful tips. I agree people like to help but sometimes not sure how to.

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  • Good read. Very interesting since I have a new baby in my house. Also dealing with inlaws.

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  • a very interesting read , thanks

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  • My cousin has just be told by her MIL that her & the FIL will be flying in to visit a few days before bub is due (a c-section)…. & have made it very clear that when they come down for the 2 weeks, it will a ‘holiday’ for them. Hopefully hubby will support her & lock the out!

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  • lock the inlaws out I say

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  • We had family want to be present at the birth and want to stay with us as soon as bub arrived. I had to put my foot down and say it was important for just myself and my partner to be at home to bond with the child. It didn’t win us as any friends or love, but it has set the boundary for those annoying family members.

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  • Interesting article. Thanks for sharing. Boundaries are very important.

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  • Great tips thank you so much

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  • Some great ideas there, well done (-:

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