Upgrade your summer with boundaries
Protect your time, plans, and summer goals with the help of these boundary scripts
Inspired by The Book of Boundaries, with 130+ scripts for scenarios just like these.
Summer is officially here! Cue the vacation plans, cabin preparations, cookouts, drinks on patios… and the tension you’ll surely feel between doing what you want to do, and everyone else’s expectations.
The summer season can feel especially fraught: We’re excited to be social and traveling again, which means the invitations will be plentiful and there’s temptation to say yes to everything. But we also want to be able to relax and enjoy the season without feeling guilty or experiencing FOMO! You know what your summer could benefit from? Some clear, kind boundaries—with other people and yourself.
Many of you have written to me asking for advice about how to set limits around the ways you’ll allow others to engage with you–and how you want to engage with others–this season. Here are some common summertime scenarios and my advice for preserving your space, time, and peace with boundaries.
Scenario 1: Your lake house
“I live in a desirable summer tourist destination—think mountains, lakes, and Instagram-worthy views. I love showing people around, but last summer I had basically no weekends to myself, and people are already inviting themselves back this year. Help!” –M.A.
First you need a boundary with yourself. Then, I’ll give you a script set a boundary with others when you aren’t accepting visitors.
Let’s start with the self-boundary: Block out all of the weekends you know you’ll want to yourself. If you’re not sure, think back to prior summers. Did you want guests half the time, one week a month, or even less frequently than that? Was entertaining guests two weekends in a row too hectic, but spaced out more was fine? Was it fun to have guests over the holiday weekends, or do you prefer enjoying those at your own pace? Was there a time limit on when guests stopped feeling fun and started feeling like work–maybe two nights, or three? Block out these weekends in your calendar, and stick to them unless you have a “hell, yes” opportunity. (More on that soon.)
Next, your boundary with friends and family: When guests inquire about visiting during your blocked-off periods, try saying, “Oh, that weekend isn’t available for guests,” or “I’m sorry, but we don’t have any open weekends left for visitors,” or “You’re welcome to stay here for two nights–I can recommend a hotel or Airbnb if you want to extend your visit.” If they push back, you can simply say, “Yes, we have a lot of plans for the summer,” or “We’re a popular spot, but there are some great Airbnb’s near the lake.” It’s none of their business whether you have other guests coming or just want your space, and you don’t have to feel guilty for prioritizing your own comfort in your own house.
Learn to say no clearly and kindly
It’s not easy to say no, especially when it’s someone you really care about. But your needs, feelings, and comfort matter just as much as anyone else’s. And you should enjoy your summer too! It’s time to read or listen to The Book of Boundaries, and start practicing the scripts that will unlock the freedom you’re seeking this summer.
Featuring more than 130 scripts in my famous “Green/Yellow/Red” framework, The Book of Boundaries has helped thousands of people identify the limits they need to reclaim their time, energy, and mental health; and set those limits effectively using clear, kind language. This summer, ditch the resentment, frustration, and burnout that comes with “being nice” and set the limits you need to truly enjoy the season. You deserve that—and you can have it, by embracing the philosophy of Boundaries.
Scenario 2: Hosting duties
“We love inviting friends to our summer cottage, but I don’t want to entertain them during their entire visit. I want the ability to sit in a chair and read or go for a walk alone.” –M.S.
My number one tip for any boundary situation: Set the expectation ahead of time whenever possible. In this case, include it in your emailed or texted invitation: "We'd love to have you visit our summer cottage and spend time in the relaxing environment we've grown to love. We may be staying there at the same time, but we prefer to leave our guests to themselves so we can all enjoy the weekend at our own pace. We'll have everything you need so you can truly make yourselves at home."
Then you have zero pressure to hang out or do anything with them, unless you want to! If guests are visiting and you find yourself wanting company, you could always say, "I'm going for a walk later if you'd like to join me," or "We'll be heading into town at 6 PM if you want company for dinner." And if they invite themselves along on your walk, please do reiterate, “No thanks, I’d like to walk alone this afternoon,” or “No thanks, being able to walk through the woods with an audiobook is one of my favorite summer activities.”
Scenario 3: Alone time on family vacations
“We take a lot of group/family vacations in the summer, and everyone always wants to do everything together—but I need my alone time/want to do my own thing sometimes/like exploring on my own too.” –So many of you
Again, set this expectation ahead of time, especially if it’s been a point of contention in the past. “When we get to Mexico, I want a balance of time together and solo time. I need time alone to recharge, and I won’t always want to do what the group is doing. I’d really like all of us to allow each other the space to enjoy our vacation in our own way.”
You can also identify the vacation events that are important to others and make accommodations. Maybe dinner together as a family would mean a lot to your parents, but you can explore during the early morning while others are sleeping or taking their time. If they’ve booked a special activity like a sunset cruise, make an effort to be there, but skip the souvenir shopping if you’re not feeling it. Compromise here if it means you can have more autonomy with less guilt-tripping.
If they do complain about your independence when you’re on the trip, remind them, “We’re all on vacation here, and it’s unreasonable to expect we’ll all want to do the same things all the time. I’m going to take responsibility for my happiness on the trip. It’s how I’ll continue to be able to take vacations with you without resentment or frustration.” (Because your final-level Red boundary would be, “I will not vacation with you again, because I do not enjoy the dynamics on these trips.”)
Scenario 4: You want your own space
“We’re visiting family this summer. They expect us to stay at their house but my partner prefers we stay in a hotel so we have more privacy. How can I communicate this?” –L.V.
First, you and your partner need to get on the same page here. Are you also comfortable staying in a hotel? If not, you two need to decide on the boundary you want to set together, because throwing your partner under the bus with, “I’d love to stay with you, but Sam wants to stay in a hotel” is not healthy for any of your relationships.
If you’re willing to agree to this for the good of your partner’s mental health, present a united front and have the conversation with your own parents. “We’re looking forward to our visit, but we’re going to stay in a hotel this year.” That’s all you have to say. If your parents balk or take it personally, simply reiterate, “You two are wonderful hosts, but we want our own space and some privacy during this visit. We’ll still have plenty of time together” You have the power to hold this boundary by simply booking the hotel and letting them know it’s already done.
If they’re initially disappointed, give them time and grace to come around. Demonstrate during the visit that you appreciate their respect for your limit here, and be prepared to compromise by making it over in the morning for breakfast if that’s important to your mom, or staying late to watch the fireworks.
Summertime, and the livin’s easy
I want you to truly enjoy your summer, and that means tapping into your own needs, wants, and goal, then committing to protecting them. Remember the key principle from The Book of Boundaries: You can do it any way you want. You don’t have to book the same summer home for the fifth year in a row just because it’s tradition. You don’t have to order a white wine just because you’re meeting friends on the patio. You don’t have to open your calendar just because your friends are guilt-tripping you.
Boundaries are how you protect your time, your plans, and your mental health this summer—all while keeping your relationships as healthy as possible. Do you need a summer boundary script that I haven’t covered here? Leave it in comments