Dear parents, please learn to say No

Dear parents, please learn to say No

A mother with baby working at home.

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

I get it. Do you have a busy work schedule? Three children? Maybe you want to work out or even sit down for dinner once in a while? Whatever it is that’s occupying your time, you have the right to get it done successfully.

Guess who decides if that happens? You! You are the one who says yes or no to anything and everything in your life. There are even ways to do that as a mom. Do you feel obligated to do something that does not fit into your day? If the answer is yes, ask yourself: Why?

You are a superwoman, and many people will want your super self at their baby showers or on their committees. Wanting to say “yes” to all of that is not wrong. But saying “yes” to things you are not stoked about or don’t fit into your family’s schedule out of a sense of obligation is not a good idea in general.

It’s even worse when it eats into your “me time” and undermines your obligation to yourself. Sure, being active in your community, your children’s school, and your office are important too. But making plans with yourself or your family is making plans. Period. You are your own party, your own committee, and the queen of your projects. Say “yes” to those all day.

“Having it all” is not about being a super mom, master chef or wife. “Having it all” does not mean “Doing it all.” That is an impossible, unrealistic recipe for burnout. Instead of saying “yes” all the time, learn to say “no” when you need to. You will be happier, and no one will even resent you for turning them down.

Saying no to your friends

Being a good friend doesn’t mean saying yes to everything someone asks of you. Now, if a friend is in need that is one thing. You will not leave their child stranded at school if they cannot make it to pick-up. But not every request can be an emergency. And you do not have to feel bad about being thoughtful about those that are not.

The fewer details about why you cannot commit, the better.

Saying no to your significant other

It is important to make time for your relationship, but if you have a busy week and your partner wants to hire a nanny for a mid-week date night? You can turn him or her down without causing a fight.

You need to assert that your work and time are valuable and that you are the kind of lady who crushes deadlines. Offer to make a reservation for a different day instead; you show him that you value his ideas and reaffirm your commitment to spending some alone time with him.

Saying no to your family

It is an unwritten law of nature: no one has more power to guilt you into doing something you do not want to do than your mother (or other close family member or in-law). There is a lot to be said for answering the call of extended family, but sometimes your duty to yourself or your kids is more significant.

When it comes to family, sometimes you have to go the extra mile to avoid hurting feelings and drama. So, when letting a family member down, call (or at least attempt to). The personal touch of your voice will go a long way to remind them that they are important to you.

Do not give a million excuses as to why you cannot be there; decline the invitation graciously with “I’m not able to make it next Sunday” and leave it at that. Define the relationship in present-day terms, and then assert your right to set your own priorities. She may not like it, but she will have to respect it. If you can, concede to meet for lunch with her.

Saying no to teachers

We all want to be the perfect volunteer moms loved by our children’ s teachers. But if your current commitments (including the ones you have made to yourself and your family) will suffer from taking on more commitments, then instead of crushing anything, you are going to get crushed. So, the next time you are faced with another commitment that you know you just cannot take on, try this tactic:

Teacher: Mama Mickey, I am looking for someone to spearhead the planning for the queen cakes sale.

You: Thank you so much for thinking of me. However, I am already volunteering to help plan the field trip next term and keep my focus there. I’m happy to bring in some queen cakes that we can sell, but I will not be involved in planning.

Teacher: I had no idea you were part of the field trip committee. That is great, thank you.

Why this works: When you present actual examples of what else you are engaged in, like planning the field trips, you demonstrate the many other ways you are contributing to the school’s good.