Why boundaries are important as a Mum

From the moment children enter your life you become stretched thin. All your time, energy, emotional bandwidth, finances everything gets stretched. It’s easy when this happens for boundaries to become blurred or even worse forgotten.

Boundaries are essential for maintaining balance, preserving mental and emotional well-being, and fostering healthy relationships..

They are the invisible lines we draw to protect our physical, emotional, and mental space. They define what is acceptable and unacceptable in our interactions with others. For mums, boundaries are crucial for maintaining a sense of autonomy, self-respect, and sanity amidst the demands of parenting.

So why do we need them?

As a mum, it’s natural to prioritize the needs of your children and family. However, neglecting your own needs can lead to burnout, resentment, and diminished well-being. Setting boundaries allows you to carve out time for self-care, hobbies, recharging your batteries.

(And boundaries teach your children valuable lessons about respect, empathy, and healthy relationships!)

Types of Boundaries for Mums:

  1. Time Boundaries: Establishing designated “me-time” for self-care activities such as exercise, hobbies, or relaxation.
  2. Emotional Boundaries: Recognizing and honouring your emotions, while also setting limits on how much emotional labor you’re willing to take on.
  3. Physical Boundaries: Communicating your need for personal space and physical comfort, especially when it comes to cuddles, hugs, or personal belongings.
  4. Social Boundaries: Being selective about social engagements and setting limits on your availability for socializing to prevent overwhelm.

Tips for Setting Boundaries:

  1. Identify Your Needs: Reflect on what’s important to you and where you need to set boundaries to safeguard your well-being.
  2. Communicate Clearly: Express your boundaries assertively yet kindly, using “I” statements to convey your needs without blame or guilt.
  3. Be Consistent: Enforce your boundaries consistently to establish a clear message and reinforce respect for your limits.
  4. Practice Self-Compassion: It’s okay to say no and prioritize your needs. Remember that setting boundaries is an act of self-care, not selfishness.
  5. Seek Support: Surround yourself with understanding friends, family members, or support groups who respect your boundaries and offer encouragement.

Enforcing Boundaries: Enforcing boundaries can be challenging, especially when met with resistance or pushback from loved ones. However, staying firm and consistent is essential for maintaining your self-respect and preserving your well-being. Remember that setting boundaries is not about controlling others but rather about honoring your own needs and values.

As a mum, setting boundaries is not only important for you but also your family. By prioritizing self-care and asserting your needs, you create a healthier and more balanced environment for everyone.

And the award for best actress goes to….


I feel like an actress most days.


A client said that to me the other day. That she feels like an actress playing a part of a women who has it all together when inside it’s a whole different story. I really resonated with that.


After I had Bella I took a year off but I agreed to take a few meetings with one or two key clients  just to keep my hand in over the year. The first meeting I did was when Bella was around 3 months old. I felt like absolute shit. I was by this point in the grips of what was to become a year long anxiety battle but I went anyway.  Mainly because one of my anxieties was about not being at work but that’s a whole other story!

I stuck on some heels and a semi smart top and stuck some make up on my face and off I went. I still remember it today 8 years later. We met at a hotel in Kings Cross and when I walked in, I felt nervous. For context I had been in my job 13 years when I went off to have Bella. I hadn’t felt nervous for a meeting in YEARS. And this was with a long standing client and my boss who I considered friends. And yet here I was.

I stuck a smile on my face and walked in. The first thing my boss said as he turned to my client was ‘See she looks amazing’. I don’t think he was talking about my weight, just my general attitude and overall look. I guess I looked like my ‘old’ pre baby self.

But I was far from it. The lipstick and the heels were doing a great job of masking what I was feeling inside.  I was happy to have a window into my old life, to sit in posh hotels and wear nice clothes again but I didn’t feel like the old me. I was tired, missing my baby, feeling guilty for being even  a bit happy that I was away and anxious that I didn’t know what I was doing anymore and I would get caught out.

I was also starting to do that thing that anxious people do. I was going inwards with my thinking. Running a monologue in my head that meant I wasn’t really focused on the meeting and what was being said.

I did the meeting and rushed to get the train home.  I had played the part of my old life and the old me for a few hours and now it was back to the new life and the new me.

New Year new Who?

New year new who?


Right about now people the world over are realising that they have fallen at the first hurdle. Maybe having that glass of wine when you said you wouldn’t. Missing the gym session or eating the crisps.

I have never believed in New years resolutions. In fact, I HATE new year’s altogether. New year’s resolutions are destined to fail because you are trying to be someone you are not. If on the 31st of Dec you were not the sort of person who gets up at 6 to go to the gym or the sort of person who always leaves the kitchen tidy before bed then why would you suddenly be that person when you wake on the 1st of Jan?


It doesn’t make sense. All it does is set you up to fail and to feel like shit because of it.


But wait…..


I’m not saying we shouldn’t have goals, things we want to achieve, we just need to take into account our personality types, our current season of life (more on that in a minute) and most importantly WHY we want to achieve this thing.

I find the best way to look at a new year is to have a key word. For example, your word might be HEALTH. Not about losing weight or dieting just overall being healthier.

What does that look like for you? How will you know when you have achieved it?

The next step is to think about what SMALL changes you can make that move you towards that overall aim. If the season of life you are in currently is one of babies and small children at home, is it realistic to think you can get to the gym? If it is, then great but the reality is you probably cannot. So what small step can you do that will help you move towards that goal.

Its FAR easier to complete one small step each day than try to suddenly become someone you are not overnight.

An MOT for the mind…

My car went in for it’s MOT last week. It passed thank goodness but when they handed my the info when I went to get the car it made me think. Having therapy is a bit like having an MOT for the mind.

When you have an MOT on your car they let you know if you have advisories. These are things on the car which whilst they are not bad enough to fail the MOT they do need looking at.

When a client comes to therapy I am the mechanic that’s going to pop the hood and have a look inside.  We can have a look at which thoughts and beliefs are working well for you. Ones that  are helpful and supportive. Those we can give  a ‘Pass’ to.

Then there will be some ‘advisories’. Thoughts and beliefs that have perhaps gone a bit rusty or gotten a bit twisted. So they are no longer working properly for you.  Those we need to pay attention to.

And finally there will be those thoughts that are not helpful at all. Beliefs which are not helping you to move forward in life and achieve your goals. These would be given a fail and need removing.

Do you think you could do with an MOT for your mind? Perhaps we should all be booking in for a yearly MOT!



Riding the wave of emotion

Emotions are valuable things, even the ones that leave you paralysed with fear or so raw and broken you don’t know if you will ever recover. They offer you lots of benefits once you know how to process them properly.

Because your emotions are always telling you something. They are natures way of spurring you

into some form of action.

Sometimes it can be difficult to understand how you feel because you can’t name the emotion. Whilst I don’t think we need to get to caught up in words it’s good to know that sometimes we might use a word to describe how we feel without realising the emotion it relates to.

I believe that knowledge is power. In order to gain a better understanding of our emotions and gain more control of them, stop them becoming overwhelming we need to start with naming them properly. This is also really helpful if you are someone who struggles with talking about how you feel.

For example sometimes we might say we feel annoyed, livid, furious, irritated. All of these words relate to the emotion of Anger.

If we feel agitated, bothered, fretful, jumpy, nervy, panicky, tense, uneasy or worried then the emotion would Anxiety.

How about humiliated, undignified, mortified or discredited? These all relate to the emotion of shame.

But where do emotions come from?

First comes the thought then follows the emotion. Our thoughts determine our feelings. If you think about the feelings associated with excitement; tingly, fluttery tummy, hot flush? The same feelings are associated with anxiety. The only difference is the thought.

If we gain better control over our thoughts it’s the building block to gaining control over our emotions.

Asking yourself these questions

Anxiety – What am I scared of?

Sadness- What have I lost?

Anger- How have my values been attacked?

Happiness – what have I gained?

Guilt – what personal rule have I broken?

Once you know how to label your emotions you can start to practice a technique called riding the wave. Imagine your feelings are a like large waves and rather than trying to push the wave back you embrace it. Let it wash over you. Name it and accept it. Acknowledge that this wave is temporary.

Give it a try and let me know how you get on.

One tiny word with a mighty punch.

The word should is such a small seemingly innocent little word but it packs a lot of punch.  This is the dictionary definition of it: used to indicate obligation, duty, or correctness, typically when criticizing someone’s actions.

It brings with it a boat load of guilt and unrealistic expectations. Have a think about the last time you used the word ‘should’ I bet you say it more often that you realise.


When you hear yourself say ‘I should have tried harder to breast feed’ or even ‘I shouldn’t have shouted at my toddler’ how does that make you feel when you say those words? I am going to guess its not a great feeling. As soon as we say I should have, or I should not have it immediately implies we have done something wrong which then leads to a feeling of guilt.


When we use the word Should it has the opposite effect. Imagine saying to yourself ‘I should do the washing’ how does that make you feel? Does it make you feel more like doing it or less like it?

The same goes for the words ‘have to’ they also carry a load of unrealistic expectation.

So, let’s try a little experiment. Let us try changing a few words and see if that changes how we feel.

Let us change should for could.

So ‘I should be making home made food for my children all the time’ becomes ‘I could be making homemade food every day for my children, but I accept that’s not always going to be possible’. Does that feel different?

Or even

I could be making home made food for my children every night, but I am choosing to spend my time doing other things.

This takes back your power. Your choice. It eliminates the feelings of guilt and the weight of expectation.

Think of this scenario. You are feeling resentful because you don’t feel as though your partner is helping you out enough at home or with your children. Have a think of the way the conversation would go if you started with ‘You SHOULD be helping me more’. What do you think their reply will be?

Now imagine saying ‘I would love it if you COULD help me more around the house or with the children’. Do you think that would go any better?

Give it a go and let me know if you see a difference in how you feel but just changing one tiny word.

Becoming a mother and grieving your old life

An analogy I often use with clients who are struggling with motherhood and all the changes it brings is its like the stages of grief. Now I realise that sounds a bit dramatic but bear with me a minute.

The first stage of grief is shock. When we have a baby, we are filled with ideas of how wonderful its going to be. We are going to be the most amazing mum and love every second of it. It’s going to bring you together with your partner because you created this little life. And then the reality hits. You find it really fucking hard. Its relentless and boring. You don’t enjoy it and quite often find yourself questioning why you even had the baby in the first place. You argue more with your partner, you never go out anymore and it feels lonely. Now let’s be clear it doesn’t mean you don’t love your baby (for some women it does feel this way but not all) but it’s really really hard.

And that comes as a shock. Its NOT what we expect. It’s not like what the books said. And we don’t know what went wrong.

The next stage of grief is denial. I know so many women, myself included, who do a GREAT job of masking how they feel. They deny how anxious or how low they feel because admitting it might seem like a failure or they worry that if they admit it someone might take their baby away. They manage to paint on a fake smile and say they are ‘ok’ every time some one shows concern.

Next we move to anger.

Anger finds its outlet in different ways. You might feel growing anger or resentment towards your baby. You hold them responsible for the situation you now find yourself in. Maybe if they were an ‘easier’ baby or slept more you wouldn’t feel this bad. Even though you may know that these thoughts are unrealistic it doesn’t stop them coming. Sometimes we might even feel that the baby doesn’t sleep on purpose to spite us or that they don’t like us.
Anger can also find its way towards our partners. The balance of the relationship has tipped and no longer seems equal. Your partner gets to go out each day and have adult conversation and eat a meal in peace whilst you are stuck at home. Even if this is something which you wanted and was discussed prior to the baby arriving it doesn’t make it easier.

Eventually, sometimes with help, we move towards acceptance. Accepting that life will never be the carefree existence it once was. Accepting that things have changed. But that this change is fluid. Its ever changing. What feels like a struggle today by next week or next month that stage will be over you and you will be onto the next. Eventually they do sleep, and you start to recoup. They begin to more and more independent and you gradually claw back tiny amounts of time. You can go to the toilet whilst they sit and watch a cartoon. They will play independently meaning you can get house jobs done or sit and have a coffee that’s still hot.

You will accept that your body is different. You might not like bits of it, but you can accept it is the way it is because you grew a human. Although I struggle still to accept that I pee if I go on the trampoline.

If you stay stuck in denial or anger its not a great place to be. Its not helpful to you in moving forward. So, if you think you are stuck reach out and talk to someone. Your partner, friend, GP or pop me an e mail and I can sign post you some help.

Quick tips for Anxiety

Why do we experience anxiety?

Well its in our DNA. Our bodies are designed that if sense threat we have a threat response. Its so fast we don’t even have time to register the conscious thought. But if you think about that’s logical. If you think back to caveman days if we were about to get eaten by a sabre tooth tiger we needed to act FAST to survive.

BUT here’s the thing.

We don’t live in caveman times any more. Our anxiety response is still stone age and has not caught up to modern living. It makes sense for example that our children are our means of species survival so we fear harm coming to them. That’s a prehistoric in built response.

What is anxiety?

In 2009 in a report by the Mental Health Foundation over 7 million people in the UK are suffering from anxiety and anxiety disorders and women are twice as likely to be affected than men although no one seems to be able to determine why this is.

Anxiety is the feeling of fear, worry, uneasiness, apprehension and dread which happen with the thought that something bad might happen. We feel anxiety in the body through muscle tension, fatigue and concentration problems.

So why is that?

Well when our brain thinks we are in danger our bodies naturally tense and our shoulders round in to protect our organs and use our hard back to defend ourselves.
When our brain is like a washing machine going round and round with the same stressful worrying thoughts that out stress on the body which is tiring. Over time this fatigue will increase.
And we are constantly thinking about the perceived threat we cannot think of anything else. Our focus goes inwards and we can no longer concentrate on anything else.

So how does it appear?

Anxiety symptoms appear in three different ways:

Anxious thinking
When we have anxious thoughts we look for reassurance that the bad thing we are fearing wont happen. We predict the absolute worst possible outcome and magnify the threat of the bad thing.

Physical Symptoms
We can feel anxiety in our bodies through things such as accelerated heart rate, blurred vision, feeling dizzy. We can have feelings of unreality, get the runs, have aches and pains and sweating.

Behavioural Symptoms
When we feel anxious we crave reassurance. From partners, family members, work mates, GP’s anyone who can tell us the thing we are worrying about wont happen.

Secondly we avoid the thing that is making anxious because we assume if we avoid it the anxious feelings will go away.

But by avoiding the thing that makes us anxious we never give our brain the chance to see and prove that the threat is in fact not as bad as we feared and we can cope with it.

Anxiety is debilitating. But the good news is you can improve it. Here are a few quick tips to begin to re train your brain.

1. Change what IF to what IS…
When you find yourself in the loop of the what if questions try changing the F to an S and asking yourself what is? What do you know to be factually correct and true. What do you know in the NOW.

2. Ask yourself how realistic is this thought that I am having? Is there any evidence to support it? Is it founded in logic?

3. How helpful is it to me to hold this thought?

4. Is there any evidence to support this thought that I am having?

5. Take a step back and breathe in for 4 hold for 4 out for 4.

Help is out there..

There are loads of self help tools on line that you can check out and excellent apps like Head space to help with relaxation techniques. WWW.anxietyuk.com is another great source of information.

Stay Strong guys x

Let’s talk about sex baby…tips to get your mojo back after birth

Let’s talk about sex baby… (I know it’s in your head now isn’t it? Sorry ?) When we are in the process of making the babies sex can become repetitive, a bit clinical and a means to an end. Then we get pregnant and have to deal with the morning sickness, the swollen ankles and all the other fun things that go with pregnancy none of which make us feel up to jumping in the sack and have a raunchy night. Now don’t get me wrong there are some women who feel amazing during pregnancy and feel that their libido is heightened but this is often not the case.

Added to this many men can feel uncomfortable about having sex with their partners once they are pregnant for fear of harming the baby (don’t get me started…) but this can also lead to a lack of bedroom activity.

And then the baby comes and even the thought of getting naked is enough to have you running for the hills.
Sadly, more marriages break up in the first 18 months after childbirth than at any other time and lack of sex is often cited as a contributing factor. And this can be from both sides. A lot of men struggle to see their partners in a sexual light after they have seen them give birth and become a mother. Dis interest in sex can translate to either partner as a dis interest in them. It can take work on both sides to get your mojo back.

But there are things we can do.

Here are the common reasons your sex drive might be non-existent and what you can try and do about it.

Did you know that 34% of women experience some sort of trauma in childbirth? This could be everything from a few stitches through to a fourth-degree tear. Understandably this can lead to all kinds of anxious feelings about the vaginal area and anything going with in its vicinity.

Taking Arnica can help with healing along with allowing fresh air to get to the area. Now I’m not suggesting you go for wander round Sainsburys starkers but when you get out of the bath try sitting on the bed and let yourself air dry for a little while. It’s important to listen to your midwife and health visitor in regard to healing and when it’s safe to even think about having sex again. This is an area that a lot of dads need educating on so try and take your partner with you to your check-up post birth so they can ask the mid wife any questions.

Another thing a new baby brings is a massive case of sleep deprivation and fatigue for the parents. And we all know that when we are tired, we are more prone to arguing and irritability which in turn leads to less sex. One thing that might help here if you can be to take a night away. If you are happy leaving your little one with perhaps a grandparent/Aunt/Uncle etc then a night away in a hotel just to get a full nights uninterrupted sleep can do the world of good. Don’t make the trip away about having sex though. Make it more about rejuvenation and rest. If the sex happens then great but don’t pile on the pressure. And make this clear before you go between the two of you so there are no mixed signals!

Ok here comes the science bit…

If you are breastfeeding that can lead to a dip in your libido. When we breast feed, we release prolactin which reduces our sexual desire. Plus cuddling a baby all day releases oxytocin which fulfils your natural need for closeness and means you don’t need to seek that closeness elsewhere. Educate your partner around this and explain that once you begin to wean your baby your libido will naturally increase.

When we experience insomnia and low mood that sometimes comes hand in hand our serotonin levels dip which leads to a decrease in feelings of desire. If your low mood is continuing and you feel its becoming a problem then please go and talk to your GP. It may be the case that course of anti-depressants is needed to help balance your serotonin levels along with some talking therapy to give you tools to move forward.

As a mum all of our energies go into looking after the new arrival and this can lead partners to feel left out and then resentful. Taking some time out to talk to your partner about how you are feeling and planning some simple activities to do together such as going for a walk or a lunch together will help to regenerate feelings of closeness.
Lower your expectations and find other ways to be intimate. Short achievable goals are the best way to start. Sitting together on the sofa to watch a movie, taking a bath or shower together, a nice back or foot rub will all start to increase the levels of closeness. Try and set quality time aside each week even for an hour when you both know this is time for you as a couple not as mummy and daddy.

When we give birth, we can be left with a negative body image and don’t feel sexy or attractive. I for one was four stone over weight after I gave birth and it took time before I felt attractive again. If you are breastfeeding, then you can buy pretty nursing under wear from sites like www.hotmilklingerie.com which can help you to feel more like your old self. Taking some time out each week for some pampering of yourself will help to make you feel more like your old self. Try agreeing that one night each week you are going to have an hour for yourself to have a long bath. Self care is important after give birth so dont put yourself at the bottom of the list.

Most important of all is to communicate with your partner. Have lines of communication open and be honest.

Take your time. It takes 9 months to grow a baby so give yourself the same amount of time the other side to recover and get back to being a hot mama.

What happens if I decide to have therapy?

What happens when I decide to have therapy?

Deciding to reach out and see a therapist is huge decision for many women. It’s the start of admitting that you are not coping, and you need help. For many they worry that by admitting they need help is an admission of failure. Many, I included, hide the fact that they are even IN therapy once they begin.

For some therapy will come via a GP referral for others they will seek out a therapist privately. Which ever route you go you can congratulate yourself for seeking help in the first place.

But what happens then? A lot of women worry about what therapy will be like, what they will be asked. If they admit to everything they are thinking or feeling the therapist will be shocked, disgusted or worse. Will they make a report that goes their GP or their employer? Will their baby be taken away if they admit to having thoughts of suicide?

So here is my list of things you should know about therapy.

1. All therapists are bound by a code of ethics set out by the Governing body they are members of. This covers confidentiality. You will be given a copy at the start of therapy which outlines the confidentiality terms and the reasons they can be broken.

2. Confidentiality can only be broken under two criteria; there is a risk you will harm yourself or others. Any breaking of confidentiality would be discussed with you by the therapist and would NOT be done without your knowledge.

3. Therapists are trained to listen without judgement. They should work to create what is termed a ‘therapeutic alliance’ between you and them. This should enable you to feel that you can share ANYTHING. There is a safe space in the therapy room and anything shared will be done so without fear of negative judgment. If you need silence that’s ok too. You won’t be rushed.

4. At the start of therapy, you may be asked to complete a form which assesses your level of depression or anxiety. This is so the therapist can monitor your scores as you improve.

5. The therapist will want to know basic information such as your GP details if you are on any medication currently such as anti-depressants, and if you have ever sought therapy before.

6. The therapist will take notes but should ask your permission to do so. Similarly, he may record the session and again would ask permission before doing so.

7. All therapists are required to be in clinical supervision. Your case may be discussed with a supervisor, but your name and personal details are not shared. All supervisors are bound by the same code of ethics and confidentiality applies.

8. Should you be receiving therapy that is being provided via an employee assistance program a report may be required by the EAP from the therapist. This will usually be a basic report and you can request to see the report before it is sent.

9. A session will typically last 50 minutes with time given at the start for a revue of the week and at the end in the case of therapies such as CBT for homework to be given.

10. If you cry that’s fine. If you dont cry ( but think you should) that’s fine too.

11. All therapists become therapists because they want to help people. Be as honest as you possibly can with them. They want to help you get better.

The biggest compliment someone can pay me as a therapist is to say ‘I found you so easy to talk to’ as without this  initial basis therapy will not work. If you have any questions about this or my work please contact me hello@andreawitttherapy.com