Friday, October 12, 2007

Empowered to say "NO"

My husband Dennis got home last night around 7:00 to a houseful of loudly grateful loud children and one extremely happy wife. We all ate dinner together, and nothing came from a box or a delivery person. It was worth the effort of rearranging our schedule, and it was not all that hard. Most of us were in bed (four kids around our bed) by 8:30. I strolled in at 9:30, and felt like a new woman this morning!

I suppose it's the "good girl"/neurotically responsible person in me that feels obligated to make sure my kids go to everything they've agreed to, and for me to attend meetings faithfully. We have made commitments and we intend to fulfill them. Doesn't everybody?

Wednesday night, however, I chose not to attend a meeting at church because Libby (9) was sick, and Annie (6) is still looking hollow-eyed from her extended virus last week. I suppose I could have gone and left them with Allie (14), but I said "NO."

Last night, I intended to go to a meeting for future high school (!) parents.

It would have meant another night scrambling to feed everyone quickly before I left, getting kids started on homework without me, leaving a sick child, and missing my husband's arrival after having been gone four days. Then facing the mess at 10:00.

I decided to say, "NO."

I sent just one quick email to say I had a conflict and wouldn't be able to attend . A teacher replied that all the information would soon be posted on the school website. So why didn't they just go ahead and say that up front? We'll never know. I'm a visual learner - I'll get much more out of it just by reading, anyway.

So back to the issue of conflicts. Why is it that, "My family needs to eat dinner together tonight," does not sound quite as compelling as, say, "I have to work late," or "My child is ill" (although I definitely could have pulled that card with Libby (9) running 103 last night again). Why is it that, even when I am dealing with people who specialize in CHILDREN, I hesitate to pull the "child" card? Or worse, the "family" card? Maybe it's because I stay home that I feel I have no "excuse" good enough.

After tucking my kids in bed last night, however - dishes done, the house picked up, and everything quiet - I felt so empowered. I knew that I'd made the right choice, not once, but twice. In one week! My family may not even realize I did anything, but that's okay. I don't need an "excuse" to protect my family time.

I do need to take a closer look at my running around and make critical choices about where to put my time. I try hard to anticipate insanity conflicts early, before they become a crisis, but the schedule around here is not what would I would call an exact science! Things happen...

Anyway, as I found out this week, there ARE ways of giving/getting information that do not require a piece of me or of my time, but I don't pursue finding them often enough. Instead, I start to feel victimized by the schedule others try to impose on me. Others whose values may be different, or who may not understand what constitutes a "conflict" for me (or who may not understand how "just one [more] little meeting" could put this mom over the edge!).

But I'm learning to say, "NO" more often. Period.

It feels good.

32 comments:

Terri@SteelMagnolia said...

That is your assertive right/option.
I have a book about saying NO.

Dawn said...

Good for you! I need to start saying no more often myself.

Leigh said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Marcia said...

Katherine, I'm SO proud of you for saying no.

I was just chatting to a time management client about this exact issue and I'm going to send her your post to reinforce what we've been talking about.

There's a great book i read earlier this year - saying no without feeling guilty by Betsy Myers - I wrote about it on my take charge blog - that I thoroughly recommend.

Have a lovely weekend!

Organising Queen and
Marcia's take charge blog

Susanne said...

I read a book years ago by Roberts Lairdon about saying "no" and it really did set me free. Everyone once in a while I still get caught up but it's because I sort of don't think until I'm feeling totally overwhelmed and then it dawns on me. I just need to be quicker on the draw, I guess.

Heather said...

You know, it is very easy to say yes to everything. I have learned that for the sake of my kids and my own sanity we NEED to spend most evenings at home. Eventually people get used to it.

Keri Ann said...

This post is great inspiration for those of us with little ones, who haven't quite reached the stage of chaotic schedules. I'm filing this one away to refer to as needed in the future!

I hope health and wellness return quickly to your entire household -- you've had a tough go of it these past couple of weeks!

Mommy-fied said...

Good for you! I'm so glad you said no and had a more sane day.

And yeah why do family stuff such as eating together seem "less" impt than "work" meetings?

I used to get worked up (still do) whenever someone comments, "Oh, you don't work." Well excuse me, "Yes I do, I work very hard at home!"

Brandy said...

I think that this is one of the biggest problems in the American families. Dr. Dobson has had quite a few broadcasts about how we need to slow down and be together AT HOME. I feel like being a stay at home mom does make it harder to say no, but we must! Thanks for the thoughts, we all need to support eachother:)

Ginger@From The Cocoon said...

Good for you! I'm proud of you for putting your family first! I am queen of overcommittment and need to learn that two letter word myself.

Nikki said...

Hear hear! Good on you!

I feel guilty playing the "kids are sick" card too. My 2yo has eczema, and we have missed the last 4 weeks of church because she can't sit still or wear clothes.

I read a really good article today about how we can choose to make our children/husbands/homes our ministry, and not feel guilty in any way about not committing to a thousand other things! RIGHT ON!

Room for Grace said...

Simply great!

julie said...

I have gotten pretty good at saying no. I guard our family time much more carefully now. We are all a lot happier.

fAiThFuL cHiCk said...

My friends calls this "saying the holy NO". I am working on this one, too. It feels liberating!

Ange said...

Yeah you!

I have got better at saying 'no' also. Hubby doesn't always have a choice with his commitments so I take it as my responsibility to to protect us from over commitment in areas I can.

Sometimes I slip up and live to regret it, but in general, my rule is say 'no' first, then think about it and if it's really something worthwhile you can change your mind :)

Queen to my 3 Boys said...

I love it!!! And you're right, it is not very acceptable to have 'family time' as the reason to not attend things. People are not very patient with that idea. It seems like everything is so fast-paced, we need to be very deliberate in slowing down and protecting us (family, couple, me) time. Great post!

Sandy said...

Amen, sister!
I've gotten much better with saying no too :) It is so freeing!

Beck said...

Great post.
I find that people presume that I have endless free nights, because I'm a homemaker - but I want to spend my nights with my family...

My Pink Boutique said...

Way to go! Great decisions and a great post!

Ladybug said...

Good for you!! This was an inspiring post for me...I need to say no more often. I will practice that.

Antique Mommy said...

That is extremely wise and it is hard to do. No is a complete sentence.

Jennifer, Snapshot said...

I think we all need to keep reminding each other that family time is something that can be scheduled. I'm a good little solder like you, and am often driven by what I "should" do in regards to commitments.

This reminds me of a book I read recently that I think you would love called The Little Red Book of Wisdom

Jen said...

A friend once told me to tape a piece of paper to the phone that said No.....or I need to pray with my family over this....I will get back to you. We cannot do everything.....and thank God some of us can say it.

Deidre said...

I'm proud of you for saying 'no'. Sometimes, it's necessary for the sake of our families.

My husband and I actually schedule a family night and during that night, we can't answer the phones or the door. We put the word out that it's our time together and we won't be distracted. You wouldn't believe the flack we get about it from our friends and extended family. We just take the criticism and still lock our doors and turn the ringers off. Our girls are only 5 and 2, but we won't them to know that our time together is valuable and most important.

Lori - Queen of Dirty Laundry said...

We're doing a study at church right now called Come Back From the Edge, and it talks about having "margin" in all areas of our lives. It includes schedules, emotions, finances, etc.

Sometimes I feel grateful for the "permission" to say no. In my former life (before mommyhood), I went to work, sick or not, and so I forget that I can stop when I don't feel well, or say no thanks to an invitation because the kids need to slow down.

I just wish it wasn't so hard for us to ease up on ourselves, you know?

Virginia (Jenny) said...

I have such a hard time with this. I can't even tell you. I am such a chicken pants.

I love running in to other moms who have five kids. It helps to see other Christians in the same boat you are and can be very encouraging. I love my family!

angeleyes Blue said...

I to have always insisted that we have dinner at home as often as possible. Daddy works 80+ hours a week and in the past it has been tempting to go through a drive thru but I absolutely adore these family dinner times.

Kids are now both in high school and the neighbor boy asked me why I always insisted that kevin be home for dinner? Honey this family needs to have check in time once a day.

My son told me that his friend wouldn't understand as his family is a eat when you are hungry kinda team. Most of this child's family will raid the fridge and eat alone in their bedroom.

I am not judging---I keep thinking food in the bedroom? Oh the ants.

This way I can catch up on goings on in high school however brief. My kids know this and that there is a calming effect in the house at 6PM every day.

As we all know --If mama is happy the family is happy. If mama ain't happy then no one is happy. Have a great day all :)

Katrina said...

Love this post, Katherine, and you are so right. I really think that sometimes those "little things" -- like a family needing to eat together or a child needing some one-on-one time to talk -- are just as important, or more important, than other, more "acceptable-sounding" time conflicts.

Kiki@Seagulls in the Parking Lot said...

I am glad you are learning to say no. It is hard to say no, a lesson I seem to continue learning!

I made the unbeliebeable pancakes again and they turned out unbeliebably! They are good and I have quickly added them into my rotation, mainly Sundays after church because they are so fast!

Jennifer@DoingTheNextThing said...

Amen!! I just finished listening to a copy of a Focus on the Family broadcast with Dr. Richard Swenson, author of the book, Margin. He said we have a "right" to say no to anything that pulls us away from our God-given priorities - or makes us stressed and irritable, unable to minister to our own families. A right to not go to a meeting, answer the phone, or be at church or school each time the doors are open. It's very freeing! Also encouraging to hear you say the same thing. Blessings.

The Small Scribbler said...

It does feel good. We've done a lot of saying NO in the last year and our lives and health are better for it. It's a good lesson. It's funny that we don't realize how frantic we were until we slow down.

Kate

The Small Scribbler said...

This is a skill that I have been making progress with this year. It's funny how we don't realize how frantic our lives are until we slow down. I wouldn't want to go back.

Kate