Oh, mama. I know you want to help everyone and everything. It’s in your nature. You’re just that kind of person. But you really can—and probably need to—just say no to some things in your life. If your plate is too full, it’s going to tip over—and unless you have a dog to help clean things up, you’re in for a big mess.
Here are my top five reasons that all mamas should learn to just say no. Listen up!
#1: Not every awesome thing that comes your way is yours to latch on to.
Even though something looks awesome, it might not be your thing to do—maybe not for this season, and maybe not for any season from here to eternity. Yes, your best friend is starting a really awesome new business venture, but that doesn’t change the fact that you can’t help with it right now. Right now you’re in the midst of babies or toddlers or a job change. You’re dealing with marriage issues or a financial mess or moving or an overwhelming depression. Or, you’re just dealing with the chaos that is called Life! Consider the fact that there are a lot of really awesome, neat things out there that are yours to admire and cheer for and support, but aren’t necessarily yours to DO.
#2: The fact that you don’t have time is not a comment on the worthiness of the thing you’ve been asked to do.
Saying no to running the bake sale or taking over the youth ministry director position or helping out with ditch cleaning does not mean that these things aren’t worthy, wonderful things. It simply means you don’t have time for them.
I recently had to decline participation in some meetings that moved from quarterly to monthly—on a night I was already serving at other meetings. When approached about why I had bowed out of the now monthly meetings, I was asked, “don’t you think the work we are doing is important?”
Yeah. I do. But unless you’re going to chop me in half with an axe, I can’t be two places at once.
#3: You’re overextending yourself to the detriment of your family, and you might not like how they are processing that.
Sometimes, mom will keep saying yes to outside things because it fills a part of her that isn’t being filled at home. Or she just feels a responsibility to help everyone. The problem is, the stuff at home (which should be the first, most important commitment) often gets pushed aside.
I remember sitting with a husband who joked that if he ever had a request for his wife, he was better off telling their 4H club or church to ask her to do it, than to ask her himself.
“She’ll say yes to any outside organization who needs help, but if her family asks, she rolls her eyes.”
In other words, his joking about the 4H club and church wasn’t really a joke.
#4: You’re teaching people that you’ll always say yes.
This week they’ve asked you to teach history at co-op, to volunteer at the food shelf, and to pick up some decorating supplies for the dance recital even though it’s a half hour out of your way. You’re frustrated that they always ask you. But do you know why they always ask you?
Because you never say no.
Well, yeah. You think I have to say yes. It’s not going to get done if I don’t say yes. I mean, they looked around and haven’t found anyone else who can do it.
Do you know why they haven’t found anyone else who can do it?
Because everyone else says no.
#5: Simply put, because it’s okay.
When in the world did we ever learn that saying no was wrong? Let’s get rid of that connection in our brain that equates “no” with “guilt”. I mean, really—cut right through that cord and let it go. It’s perfectly okay to decline participation, and the beauty of it is, we don’t even have to give a reason if we don’t want to. NO is a complete sentence—short, sweet, to the point, and perfectly acceptable to say.