What can I say no to?
It’s the question on my mind every August. As summer starts to wind down and all the activities and opportunities loom, I consider how to best spend my time during the next few months. What can I move off my plate? How can I create some margin in my life right now?
This annual fall practice has saved me in times of sheer exhaustion and overwhelm such as when I had a two-year-old and a newborn and my blood ran thick with caffeine to compensate for the lack of sleep. This year, I have a kindergartener, a preschooler, and a very fast-moving baby. I have multiple roles to fill; I have to be judicious with my time. While I’m not an expert juggler, I know I cannot drop certain balls, prime among them being my family. Everything else has to fit around my non-negotiables.
Don’t get me wrong, I love being busy and helping people and doing things and having a nice weekly routine full of fun and stimulating activities. I want my children to have wonderful opportunities that will allow them to discover their own strengths and passions. And, as a responsible adult, I know there are certain things that I have to say yes to, both for myself and my family. But I want to actively create room in my life for rest, fun, and relationships instead of filling it with empty obligations.
Deciding to Say No
Deciding what I need to say no to requires a realistic look at both my current season of life and my resources: time, money, energy. But most importantly, it makes me take a hard look at what I value most. When I am tempted to sign up for every activity and opportunity under the sun, it’s helpful to reorient around my priorities:
What are the things that are most important to me as a mother, a wife, an individual?
Will these things that I want to say yes to uphold those values, goals, and interests or will they simply be distractions?
Am I tempted to say yes to this because I feel like I should, either out of obligation or comparison, or because I truly want to?
This often means saying no to some things that I would rather say yes to.
But it’s getting easier to say no.
Saying no prevents burnout, enforces healthy boundaries, and creates self-discipline.
And saying no to some things allows us to say yes to other things, the things that really matter.