You guys know already how much I have embraced saying no. And it was hard for me at first, really really hard. I was raised to be a helper, to be a hand raiser, and to say yes when I can be of service. That is, until I found myself driving to yet another committee meeting, wet hair, screaming baby left back at home, I was late, I was miserable, and I was behind on everything else going on in my life. I had to just say no. So I took a deep breath, and said it.
The thing is, as women, it can be hard for us to say no when someone asks us to help. And it can also be hard for us to disappoint people. For me, I was always worried people would think less of me if I said no to helping out, said no to volunteering or being the class parent, if I said no to attending an event or something I really didn't have the time for. Each time I said yes I was eating away at my own time, at the space of "nothing" time that was always left over. There was that space, I figured since it wasn't already booked that it was free and I was obliged to fill it if someone asked. It almost felt like lying if I said I couldn't do it if I was actually "free" that day. I know, it sounds crazy.
The holidays bring up a whole different set of events and activities and we can easily find ourselves overextended. Family commitments, school activities, cocktail parties and work functions, the list goes on and on. Sometimes in the spirit of the season we can find ourselves saying yes to every event, trying to fit it all in, trying to please everyone in our lives, please our families, keep the kids happy, make sure we don't miss that tree lighting or Santa visit or any of the holiday magic going around. We are multi-taskers, right? I think that goes to our heads sometimes and we wind up taking on WAY more than we should, but even then we find a way to "make it work", and that is almost always by sacrificing ourselves, our own time.
The thing is, you have to know when to say when, no one else is going to do it for you. Don't let the natural flow of your life turn into a crazy train with no stops because you took too much on. Don't let things that won't matter a month from now, a year from now, take over what your real priorities are in life. If someone thinks less of you for saying no, that's on them, not on you.
We need to carve out that "nothing" time and use it to do what we hold the most high that day, that hour. Meditating, hanging out with the kids, reading, sleeping (if you are that lucky). Give that gift to yourself this season, find one thing that is taking up your time that you do not want to be doing, that isn't serving you or your family or your happiness or well being or that of your family, and ditch it. Politely, respectfully, ditch it. Say no.
Now, don't get all up in arms. I know how important it is to volunteer, to help out, to give our time, and I'm not saying any of those things are a time suck that you need to get rid of, what I am saying though is that we need to be realistic with what we can do, comfortably, and give our time when we can. No more guilt, no more pressure when you just can't do it.
People always ask me how I get it all done with five kids and working from home, and I usually tell them it's because I almost constantly have to relearn how to prioritize my time. And I have to be honest about it. When I was pregnant, I got to be class parent, this year with a baby, I have to pull back, and when they are older, I'll be back there class parenting. Just not right now. Now is also not the time for holiday parties or mixers or dinners out, we almost never have a sitter and the couch plus Netflix is way more appealing because I'm tired, and we have a baby. But you know what? We'll be back there some day, sipping a glass of wine and chatting with real adults wearing actual clothes and not sweatpants. All in good time. And that's the whole point, good time. Time is precious, it flies by us in a blink, we all know that. And when you sit down and think about it, you'll know what you really want to be spending your time doing, and who you want to be spending it with. Actually making that happen will make you so much happier, I promise you.
So do it, this week, say no to something, guilt free. Don't make up a child being sick (HELLO we all do that, am I right??), don't make up an excuse, and don't apologize. Just say "I just can't make it" or "I don't have the time" or if you want to be totally honest and it's a good friend, tell them that you love them, but you need some down time. If they are a good friend, they'll totally understand, and maybe take the time themselves to slow down. xoxo