They teach us about respecting someone’s personal space in grade school, but as soon as you see those two lines on your pregnancy test, it becomes more challenging to maintain your own space.

First, while you’re pregnant, it feels like everyone and their mother wants to come up and touch your belly, regardless of how you feel about it. Then, when bringing your little ones into the world, they become a part of your personal space — at least for a while.

How can you find your personal space as a mom?

1. Don’t Be Afraid to Be Rude

This applies more to adults than children, especially while your pregnant. While you’re carrying a child, people seem to think that your body is public property. Even strangers will walk up to you and lay their hands on your belly, often without asking.

Ask politely, but if they aren’t deterred, don’t be afraid to be rude. Some people don’t have a clue and seem to think that it’s okay for them to put their hands on you just because you happen to be pregnant. Don’t hesitate to tell them to f*** off if they become handsy.

We’re not saying you shouldn’t let people touch your belly if you allow it — but that’s the critical point. It’s all about whether you want someone touching you or not. If you don’t feel up to it, tell them no. It’s as simple as that. Try to ask politely but if they don’t get the hint, tell them off.

2. Self-Care Isn’t Selfish

It might feel selfish to take time for yourself, especially if you have a young child or children depending on you, but we’re here to tell you the opposite — self-care is not selfish, it’s necessary.

Taking care of yourself is the only way you can take care of other people. We spend so much of our time taking care of other people that we often neglect to care for ourselves.

Don’t feel bad about needing some time away from your kids, even if it’s a few minutes to yourself a day. Sometimes it’s the best thing you can do for yourself. It gives you a chance to restore your energy reserves and puts you in a better position to take care of others without draining yourself.

3. Find Ways to Entertain Them

You don’t need to find a babysitter to maintain your personal space as a mom. Sometimes, all you need to do is find a way to keep them entertained. Cater to their interests, but make sure it’s something they can do unsupervised. No finger painting unless you know they’ll keep it on the paper and not paint the walls too.

Don’t feel bad if the only way you can keep them entertained is to plop them down in front of electronics for half an hour, giving you enough time to drink a cup of coffee before it gets cold. For young children, this can be an easy way to keep them entertained. You can keep an eye on them from another room without having them climbing into your lap.

This becomes easier as your children grow. You can take them to the park, set them loose on the playground equipment and sequester yourself to a nearby bench — close enough to keep an eye on them and kiss any skinned knees, but far enough away that they’re not always up in your personal space. Be careful to teach your children the rules of the playground — always be kind, communicate and tell you if there are any problems with bullies.

4. Stay Calm Until You Can Get Away

When you become a mom, it may seem like you give up your right to personal space, but that isn’t true at all. The most important thing you can remember is that even if you’re overwhelmed or angry, stay calm until you can get a minute or two to yourself. Once alone, you can rant, rave or scream all you want but don’t take it out on your children.

This is where the electronic babysitter comes in handy. Put on an episode of their favorite show and scream into a pillow. Put a couple of pillows on your bed and punch them until you feel better. Whatever it takes to help you get back to your zen space after having children spending all day in your personal space.

5. Take Care Of Yourself

Having kids doesn’t mean you lose your right to personal space. It means you need to use creativity to find it. Keep the kids entertained, even if it’s only long enough to drink a cup of coffee.

Remember, self-care is not selfish. It’s the only way you’ll have enough mental and physical energy to take care of anyone else.

Jennifer Landis

Jennifer Landis is a wife, mom, writer, and healthy living blogger. She enjoys longs walks around the block with her toddler, prefers tea over coffee, and eats way too much peanut butter. You can find more from Jennifer on her blog, Mindfulness Mama or follow her on Twitter @JenniferELandis