Well, I finally did it. And the earth didn’t stop revolving, the sun still came up the next day, hell didn’t freeze over and I survived. In fact, despite the little bit of guilt, it felt amazing — completely freeing.
I finally said no.
I am not talking about the daily reiteration of “no hitting, no you cannot not have another show, no scratching, no pinching, no jumping off of the furniture, no more videos, no candy is not a vegetable, and no more whining!”
I am talking about being asked to do something that could possibly be squeezed into my schedule, sounded kind of fun, but would totally put me over the top stressed out on making other events that were already planned.
So, I said no.
I mean, I wasn’t rude about it. I explained that I already had our weekend planned and it just wasn’t going to work out this time. I knew in the back of my head, I probably could have made it work — and I usually would have. But then I would be continually glancing down at my watch to make sure we got from here to there and just wouldn’t have really enjoyed any of it.
So, I said no.
As mentioned before, it did come with some initial guilt. Especially because it involved my kiddos missing out playing with their cousins and me really helping my sister out. But, she understood! It was 6 p.m. on a Friday night and it was a late request.
But it isn’t always a late request. Sometimes it is an invite a week or two out and, although I know that day already has events planned, I feel like I need to say yes. So, I typically do.
After all, I do not have to deal with it immediately and I am sure I will figure it out when we get to it. Which I do, but not without other sacrifices.
Recently, I heard on the radio that if someone asked you to do something and you are thinking about saying yes, ask yourself if you would do it tomorrow. Would you clear your schedule to make it happen tomorrow? You see, typically, tomorrow is already planned out, so it would need to be something important enough to change those plans. If you immediately can say yes, then it is fine to commit to.
If not, then either think about it, or just say no.
Look, this life is busy. Working full-time gives me only so many waking hours with my girls. I want to be present — fully present — when we are together. Our time together is precious. This time in their life is so significant. It is my chance to build a lasting bond, teach them valuable lessons, encourage them to grow and just spend time with them.
So, I’m sorry friends and family, in advance, if I tell you no. Please know it truly has nothing to do with you. It is me (so cliché I know). But honestly, I am not being impolite or ungrateful for the invite. I am truly just trying to manage my time.
And no, I am not saying to stop inviting us! We still want to see you and spend time with you. It’s just that we cannot do it all. I am not believing I am more important than your request. I appreciate it — I really do!
But sometimes we already have plans. And sometimes we just want to lounge in PJs and watch movies all morning on a Saturday. I have finally realized it is OK.
Before now, I wanted to please everyone. I didn’t want to hurt feelings or make anyone feel like I was abandoning them. But while trying to compact too much fun into our days, I was running down myself — and in turn neglecting my girls.
But that is a thing of the past now. I have taken the first step, said the first no. And it felt good, not only for the quality of my time spent but also for the ripple effect it has on my babies.
So, it’s OK, Mommies and Daddies, you can say no. Embrace it, overcome it and enjoy it. You are constantly being pulled one direction or the other and it is time to release the chains. I promise you will get over the initial guilt and the world will keep on moving. Try it. Set yourself free.
You can do it. You can say no.
Sarah (Pitson) Shrader was born and raised in Lima. She is a Lima Central Catholic and Tiffin University graduate. Sarah is a full-time working mama who enjoys writing about her somewhat crazy, always adventurous life as a mother. She lives in Bath Township with her husband, Paul, and their daughters, her writing inspirations, Maylie and Reagan.