THE ART OF SAYING NO
Yesterday we talked about evaluating everything in our lives. I truly believe this is the first step to take if we really want simplicity. It’s really hard to slow down our pace when our calendars are full. We talked about looking at every day of the week and taking a long, hard look at what could be eliminated or put on the shelf for later. I read something recently that made so much sense to me: “we can have it all, just not all at once.” The book was in reference to trying to “do it all” and “be everything” all at once. It just doesn’t work. Homeschooling, working full time, pursuing a busy career, becoming Martha on the weekends to entertain, being a five-star chef, and participating in every activity available to you and your kids just will not work. It’s humanly impossible. There will be a time we can pursue other things, but right now, something’s gotta give. Our kids will only be small for a very short time. We will have lots of time when they are grown to pursue those other things we desire. Not all at once. We need to stop and evaluate.
When we’ve looked at our lives, decided on the things the could be eliminated or saved for a later time, we’ve probably found our calendars a lot more open. This is awesome! But I have noticed a problem with the free evenings and open squares on our calendar–this openness sometimes gives us the false idea that we can add back in. Well, our Wednesday nights are free now–maybe we could just do that meet-up now instead. Or we don’t have anything going on on Tuesdays now, let’s join that play group. This is so hard for so many of us, but we need to know the Art of Saying No.
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Saying No Gracefully
It’s really hard to say no sometimes, I get this. We look at other moms who are volunteering in every church classroom, preschool classroom, going to every park meet-up, and every sport every season and we feel guilty. It’s hard to say no, we may be facing things like:
- we feel guilty
- we maybe really want to participate
- it’s something our mother was involved in
- all our friends are participating
- our husbands want us to
- our kids have begged
The thing is though, mamas, is that mama really does know best. If you get a form in your kid’s backpack or if you get a call to volunteer for something–just think about it. You know what’s best for your kids…for your family. You don’t have to be bullied by anyone into saying yes to something. So don’t say yes right away. Give yourself some time to think it over. With your newly freer calendar it will be tempting to say yes. But we can say no gracefully. Here’s some ideas of how to do that:
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- “You know, homeschool takes up so much of our time its really hard to commit to *blank*”
- “I am so flattered you thought of me, but I just don’t feel like I’m in a position right now to take this on right now.”
- “This sounds great, but I made a decision to not volunteer this year. Next year might be an option for me.”
- “I just don’t feel like I’m able to commit to this right now, but I’d be happy to bring snacks.”
What Saying No Gives Us Back
When we say no we usually feel some guilt–that’s pretty normal. I think it also wears off pretty quickly too though. When we really commit to a simpler life, a more open calendar, and less stress, saying no will become easier and easier.
When we say no, we get so many yeses back
- yes to after-dinner walks
- yes to reading together as a family before bedtime
- yes to throwing that fun party you’ve always wanted to
- yes to sewing a quilt with your daughter
- yes to building that project with your sons
- yes to movie night with your husband
- yes to slower mornings
- yes to open weekends with two days to explore whatever you want to
- yes to more free play
So many times we say yes and then immediately regret it. Next time, take your time in answering. Think about what you’ll give up in exchange to saying yes to this commitment. You might give a yes–you might give a no. Either way though, make it be a wise answer, not a guilt riddled one.
Yes, I really love this post. It is so hard to say no to all the outside things, but it is SO important for our sanity, and for our families.
…..really loving this series – thank you for all your hard work…gina!
"So many times we say yes and then immediately regret it." – this hits the nail on the head for me. Maybe it's a little strange, but I love the idea of being involved, doing things, going to the cornmaze, harvest party & hosting a potluck all on the same weekend – and almost without fail, I actually dread (fill in the blank) as it approaches. I definitely need help with saying no – but in addition, in not being the initiator of all. the. things. as well.
I am an intoverted extrovert – when we are out & about I have a very "on" personality. I don't mean that I'm fake. Does this make sense? But when we get home, all I want to do is go in my room for quiet time. 🙂
You're one smart mama, you know – I turned 40 this summer & wish I'd known/realized half what you do when I was 32.