There is no such thing as ‘having it all,’ nor am I interested in getting it. My sanity is so much more important than any craziness needed to “have it all.”
Since I’ve decided not to have it all, I also have to choose what I still want – and learn how to say no the the rest.
We all do this – whether we realize it or not. Will I spend my time working late to complete a project? Will I join the PTA? How many activities can my children be in? What will we eat for dinner tonight?
If your priority is feeding your children wholesome, homemade meals, you will have to make choices in order to honor that. This may mean that you have to leave work a bit earlier so you have time to prepare the meal. Or you may have to skip the group lunch so you can shop on your lunch hour at the whole foods store that is close to work but far from home. Or you may need to spend your Sunday afternoon doing meal prep instead of at the ball game. Or you may need to give up your book club that meets after work.
As with many things us moms do, each time we say ‘no’ to something, we likely have to deal with the guilt. Sorry, I can’t volunteer that day. Guilt. We won’t make the party that day. Guilt. I’m not able to join that group. Guilt.
When I was working in volunteer management, we would joke about finding volunteers. “If you want something done, ask a busy mom.” While it was said in jest, it was very true. Mommy guilt seems to keep getting us moms into trouble.
Not only do I have a healthy dose of mom guilt, I also am from Minnesota, so being “Minnesota Nice” means I really struggle to say no.
Finally, I had a bit of a proverbial slap to the head that brought some clarity to me. I was asked to help out with a project at school on a Monday evening. With some recent schedule changes, I have been very protective of my Monday evenings with my children as it is the only evening that we don’t have some kind of work, school, or sport to go to. That has become our family night together.
The nature of the school project meant that I would miss at least a few weeks of Monday evenings with my children. With very little hesitation, I said ‘no.’ Just like that – no regrets, no apologies, no excuses. Just an unapologetic no.
In those few seconds, I realized I was not willing to give up that time with my children and no one was entitled to know why I turned down the activity. In order to say ‘yes’ to my children, I needed to say ‘no’ to what would have actually been a fun couple of evenings crafting with other adults.
It was that realization that has allowed me to continue to be guilt-free when I say no to people. I focus on the fact that saying no to that activity allows me to say yes to something else in my life. I’ll say that again… in saying no, I actually get to say yes.
BUT... I have to say no first… and mean it!
What have you been able to say yes to?