15 Housework Boundaries To Prevent Your Family From Taking Advantage Of You

Get clear on what is important, then communicate it clearly. You deserve your time.

woman smirking on train after setting boundaries in her life Maridav | Canva

What keeps you from being in greater control of your life? Most of us might say that money or time, family, or career obligations are the things that hold us back.

What are two things you can do this week to claim more freedom? How can you reduce obligations in your life that are holding you back from the life you truly want? This can be particularly challenging for women who are wives and/or mothers, as the default in most families is for the woman to do the bulk of the childcare and housework, which often results in resentment and fighting between partners and even with older children. 


RELATED: Husbands Create 7 Hours Of Extra Housework A Week, Says Study

15 clear boundaries you can set with your family to reclaim your time:

  • "I need 20 minutes when I come home to unwind by myself before I talk to anyone about anything."
  • "The clothing budget allows for one pair of shoes now, not two. I am not going to discuss it further."
  • "Sunday is for relaxing; I can do the laundry/yard next Saturday."
  • "If you can't do the dishes after you eat, leave a note with the time and tell us they will be done within 4 hours."
  • "Boxes and bags that are left on the table or floor will have a date put on them. Two days later they will be put away, and a chore will need to be done to reclaim them."
  • "I will wait fifteen minutes. If you are not there, I will go on without you unless you have called."
  • "Don't knock before 10 am; I may have stayed up late, and might be sleeping."
  • "I would like to take comp time for the extra day I put into this of my own time." (If you don't ask, you certainly won't get what you want!)
  • "TV and other devices are turned low after 10 so no one is kept awake."
  • "Do not use the bowl and cup on this shelf; they are special to me."
  • "If I don't get back to you when you need me, call me again or text with your specific quesiton/need. I have several projects I am working on. I need your patience."
  • "I know we planned to go out tomorrow, but I can't get out of this. I am sorry. Will next Wednesday or Saturday work? How can I make it up to you?"
  • "You said you would have dinner ready. I only have 30 minutes. Would you treat me at the deli so I can get to my appointment on time?"
  • "I know you want to go to the Aquarium, but I am enjoying watching the boats go by. Would you be willing to go by yourself or to wait fifteen more minutes so I can sit still here?"
  • "I will stay on the phone with Tech Support until the problem with the wifi is handled, but I need someone else in the household to take over some of the chores I planned for today."

RELATED: Why Husbands Have Fun Hobbies And Wives Take Up Baking


"If only I had an extra hour in my day"; "I'd take a vacation if I had more money"; "I need to spend the money on clothes for the kids"; "I have to finish the report first."

Have you set boundaries about what is acceptable, and what is not? A big part of gaining more control over your life is having clarity about what matters, and using effective communication to ask for what you need. We all have a right to establish boundaries.



You get the idea. First, get clear on what is important. Second, ask for and expect to get what you want. Third, be willing to talk it out, and work it out, so it's a win-win.


RELATED: How To Negotiate A Truly Fair Division Of Labor With Your Spouse

Morah Vestan is a life coach, communication trainer, and author. She has an M.A. in Adult Education and was a relationship columnist for 16 years for Seattle's Active Singles Life.