Repeat after me: Someone else’s ask doesn’t have to be my ‘yes’.
As a mom, you get asked to help others with so many things. They really add up to taking away from your time + your own priorities:
Mom, can you find my iPad?
Mama, will you open this?
Can you put my shoes on, Mom!? I can’t do it!
Heck, even your partner does it:
Can you run to the dry cleaners?
Can you make me some lunch?
I need a baby gift for my boss, will you handle it?
And what about all of the work, PTO, + extra curricular requests that get made of you as well??
Will you help organize this fundraiser?
Can you be a room mom?
I know you’re busy, but can you send out this email ASAP?
The list goes on + on.
All of these requests are simple enough, but let’s look at the example below to understand why you need to be more strategic about how you are helping others in your family so that your priorities get accomplished, too:
With this example in mind, I want you to think how much like the kittens that show up in our yard, we have plenty of other people in our lives who innocently ask for our help. We want to be kind, so we oblige. What we don’t always do is step back + consider how it might not be our best strategy.
When we help others with things they can do for themselves, we aren’t using our time, energy + capacity wisely. We are also enabling our loved ones to rely on you instead of themselves, their skills, + their own time management.
Let’s face it, if you’re always going to say yes, why would they be motivated to do anything other than ask you?
Eventually, we moms end up with more + more requests…and less + less time or energy to take care of the things that matter the most to us + our contributions to our family, works, + personal identity.
Before you can even be confronted with others’ requests for help, I want you to think about two important ideas: values + priorities. These shape your ‘why’ + will help you decide on whether to say yes or no to the request.
When it comes to qualities you admire in yourself + others, are self-sufficiency, time management, organization, confidence, etc. on your list? If the request is inhibiting your child’s development of those qualities, you may consider saying no, even if you have the time to help. When you can remind yourself of these important values, you are able to say ‘no’ with purpose instead of guilt.
What are the priorities for you? They might be making sure the laundry gets done, or that you are finishing lunches so that you can get the kids to school on time, or that you have an important project at work that is timebound. If saying yes is going to get in the way of those big-picture priorities in your day, then you should probably say no!
When you know the why behind your no, it becomes much easier to be confident in your answer. Think of the times you’ve said no without reason. Chances are you were easily persuaded to change your mind. When you change your mind, you train others that all you need is some persuasion in order to cave in + give them what they want.
When you lead your answer with your why, you can back it up with confidence. You don’t feel guilty about your decision + you can stick to it.
This is probably the hardest of the 5 because so time, impatience, + mood can greatly influence our consistency in practicing these concepts. I have found that whenever my kids or husband ask me a question, it is okay to pause. Giving myself a minute to think ultimately allows me to be more consistent in my practice. Once I began answering thoughtfully with consistency I saw an incredible improvement in the pushback I would get when I had to say no. They learend that my no is a no + there was no convincing me otherwise.
If the request being asked of you doesn’t interfere with big-picture values or your in-the-moment priorities, make the effort to say yes. I elaborate on this a lot more in this post about saying yes. It’s really important to building a sense of security + collaboration to our households! The best part about saying yes whenever possible is that when you have to say no, your family knows that you are saying it with good reason.
We’ve talked about having the confidence to say no, but it always helps to remember that the request was made to you because you are trusted, reliable, + depended upon. When you have to say no, acknowledge the need your child or partner has. Empathize.
Caring ways to say no include:
“I know how important picking up the dry cleaning is to you. It just can’t be my priority today. I will help you with it this on the weekend.”
“You are able to put your boots on by yourself. If you’d like to be near me while you do it, bring your boots in here–I would love to watch while I do my work, too.”
“Hm, this does look really hard. I know for a fact that you are really good at filling your cup of water, but putting the lid on is still pretty tricky. Why don’t you fill it up + then I’ll show you a little trick I use to get that lid on.”
You’re empathizing while also setting realistic boundaries. The requests for help are acknowledged + supported in a reasonable way.
It is always great to be needed by our families + to be able to help them out. It’s my hope that in using these 5 key strategies, you will be able to strike a more realistic balance between being helpful + putting everyone’s priorities over your own. It will feel empowering + you’ll begin to regain your momentum.
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Mom life is complex,
but it doesn't have to be complicated.
LET'S SIMPLIFY THINGS.