How To Set Set Boundaries (even if saying NO is hard)

Do you ever find yourself saying yes when you really want to be saying no? Are you a people pleaser and so you find it really hard to say no even when you know it will eat up your time or cause you to stress? OK Mamas, time to pull on a pair of big girls pants, it’s time to say NO! As busy moms, we often take on jobs just because it’s easier than saying no, but is being a pushover doing us any favours? No of course not, in fact, instead of being seen as the super-mom others are more likely to think of us as ‘the doormat’, the one who never says no, the who will always pick up my slack.

Why It Happens:

It’s the easy way out Often it is just easier to say yes then it is to fight over why you are saying no, sometimes we just crave the easy life! But it is the easy life is we end up taking on more jobs than we actually have time for? You don’t want to be rude Sometimes it would feel rude saying no. Here we need to ask ourselves if we are really being rude or is that an idea that we have in our head. Why exactly are we are being rude, is it really so bad? Will you become a social outcast, a village pariah, just for saying no? Probably not. Peer pressure Unfortunately, this doesn’t stop at high school! Often we end up saying yes because of our peers, whether it be the PTA moms or our girlfriends, it can be really hard saying no when everyone is telling you to say yes. It is human nature to want to fit in and not be the odd one out. FOMO How many times have to say yes down to fear of missing out? Will you miss an opportunity? What will happen if you say no? This one is a bit of a double-edged sword, sometimes we want to say no out of fear of following through, it is always a good idea to pause before answering this type of request. People Pleaser This is very much a female trait, we want to make people happy so we naturally are inclined to say yes. The problem is that we are not taking our own mental health and wellbeing into account. According to Sherry Pagoto Ph.D. being a people pleaser can lead to self-neglect, resentment, stress and depression and being taken advantage of by others. All good reasons to quit the behaviour.

This Has Got To Stop

How can we ever look after ourselves, make sure we have time for US, take a little well deserved ME time, if we are forever juggling everyone else’s balls? If you are sick of the endless requests to fix a snack, make a drink, do the filing, pick up this, drop off that, emails so-and-so, on top of the usual looking after the kids and home, then this, my soon to be assertive mama, is for you! We need to start finding ways to actually set ourselves up so we can say no, and set up our boundaries so that we’re controlling our own time better. It’s really important that we do take care of ourselves, we put ourselves first and we think of ourselves before everybody else, because we need to be looking after ourselves for number one. You know the whole analogy of putting on your own oxygen mask first! If we look after ourselves, and we’re in a good way in ourselves, then we’re able to help other people. But if we’re getting everything dumped on us,  we’ve got 1001 different things going on, you know, juggling all those balls in the air, spinning a few plates too, then how on earth can you look after yourself? That means: When you get asked to do something, the first thought should be

“Is this good for me?”

Next, consider the person who’s making the request, before you decide which kind of response to give them. If it is somebody who cares about you, but they’re making continuous demands on you even reasonable ones, but you just can’t cope with them at the moment, they need to know. And if they do care about you, they’ll back off and give you some breathing space. Hopefully, they will even take a step back and actually pitch in and help you with whatever it is that you need help with. But…if instead, that person gets upset because you’re saying no to them, then they obviously don’t give a monkey’s uncle about you and your well being. In that case, why should you care about letting them down? If they don’t care about you, why should you care about what they think, say or do if you say no?

How To Say No

It’s not easy, I’ll sare some scripts below to make it easier. Two things to remember… ONE – Be respectful.  A polite no in an ideal world should be enough. You might have to say it more than once, some more persistent people might start driving you nuts with their constant requests, but remember that two-letter word NO is a strong one, you just need to repeat it. TWO – You don’t need to lie or make up excuses I was surprised when I moved to Japan at the bluntness of some of my friends and students. I would ask if they would like to go out to dinner and I’d get a blunt, no-nonsense NO back (not all the time thankfully!). It took me a whilst to realise that in Japanese culture there is no requirement to give a reason or excuse for not doing something. In English, we often follow up a no with an excuse or reason.

“I’m sorry, I have a meeting that day” “No I can’t, my mother is coming for a visit” “No, I have to wash my hair…”

Instead of giving an excuse, tell the truth:

“Sorry, that doesn’t fit with my schedule” “Sorry, I have a full on week, I can’t commit to anything else” “No, I won’t be able to do it, I have enough on my plate right now” “No thank you, I have absolutely no fricken interest in your whatever it is Karen, now leave me alone”

OK, maybe that last one should be dialogue for your head only unless you really don’t care if you upset Karen!


The best way to set up solid boundaries, that people respect you for is by practice. Here are a few ways to get you started… assertive woman saying no


Scripts On How To Say No

Just say no! “I’m sorry, I can’t”

Slip NO between 2 positive statements “Thank you for thinking of me, but I’m sorry I can’t but thank you for asking anyway!”

Make a recommendation “I’m sorry, I can’t help you but you know, Dave would be a good person to ask”

Make a counteroffer “No, sorry I can’t do that but I could do …”

And finally – use this with caution, if it is something you really don’t want to do, use one of the above only use this if you really need to check your schedule first. “Let me think about it and get back to you.”

That last one will give you some wriggle room if you don’t feel you can say NO right away. All you need to do now is practice. Try it out on the kids, your partner, the mother-in-law… start small and soon you’ll be able to put your foot down and tell everyone that you are not going to host the annual 3-day New Years Party which you actually hate and it takes you another 3 days to clean up after. And instead, you are going for a nice few days away to the mountains! Share below what you will be saying no to this week!

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Setting boundaries - how to say no even when you're not good at it | saying no | setting boundries | healthy boundaries for moms |“>
Setting boundaries - how to say no even when you're not good at it | saying no | setting boundries | healthy boundaries for moms |“>