“Hey, can you do me a favor?” Do you hear it all of the time? Everyone thinks that stay-at-home moms are loaded with spare time and energy. All I’m doing is swimming knee-deep in laundry, dishes, physical therapy equipment, special diet needs, and doctor and specialist appointments. I have all the time in the world for everyone else, right? Wrong!
No wonder busy men and women today are so stressed – we’re afraid to say NO.” A two-letter word which most moms have no problem saying to their kids and their spouses – how come it’s so hard to say to those who live outside of the front door? No is a very powerful and freeing word.
Friends will often assume you have increased availability given that you are a stay-at-home mom. If friends who work at offices ask for repeat favors, like watching their children in a pinch or waiting for a repairperson, find polite ways to say no. Let friends know about your work, to avoid drop-in visits or phone calls from which you find it difficult to extricate yourself.
How many unwanted things have you ended up doing because you didn’t say “no”? Most of the time we say ‘yes’ because we can’t think of any reason for not cooperating. The basic reasons for saying no should be that what we have been asked to do does not fit into our schedules. At first this may seem like a selfish response. Yet if our priorities are straight, then we will have already taken into account the needs and goals of others, at least those to which we are able to respond in a reasonably appropriate and effective manner.
Learning to say no also involves accepting your own capabilities.
Say No – Firmly and Frequently
It should be said often. Why? It’s liberating because it’s a way of standing up for yourself. Try it on for size. Repeat the following, “No, I will not take on one more task which will completely mess up my already scheduled day!” “No, I will not allow you to plan my day for me.” “No, I will not…” Get the picture? No allows you to reclaim some of your lost free time. If you don’t find yourself saying it often enough – get busy! They sometimes forget you are not the personal assistant, maid, chauffer, launderer, accountant, etc.
Some Tips to say ‘No’
Here is a smart way to determine what you can truly commit to: Simply say that you will check your calendar and call the individual back later. When you are not making a quick decision and have time to really mull things over, you’ll be surprised at how many of these “great” opportunities don’t really seem so great.
Another tip to consider: Don’t take something on simply because you can squeeze it into an already busy schedule. Sometimes it is best to say “no” to something that might only be a drain on your reserves, of time or emotions!
By saving your “yes” decisions for things that you can give your all to, you are not only doing a favor to yourself, but to whomever is requesting your help.
When everyone thinks a stay-at-home mom has all the time in the world to help out, a little word like “no” is a powerful tool.
Only women say ‘Yes’
This is one area that men seem to have covered. If they are busy – whether a business meeting, a project or a golf game – they simply say ‘NO’. Rarely do they explain why and if they do they simply say something like, “I am booked at that time.” or “I have other plans.”
Notice they do not even use the words sorry. Other than wives on occasion, no one even minds or faults these men for saying ‘No’. They are busy and can’t do it. No problem. So what is it about women that we feel compelled to say yes to things we don’t have time for or don’t want to do? Hmm, that question is even too big for me to contemplate so lets just move on to the actual skill set. Saying no is a skill and everyone can and must do it. For some it takes a bit of practice but it is definitely worth the effort.
Ways to Say No
1. Use a Planning System — Whether you are using a paper planner or an online tool, this is an incredible key to time management success which includes saying ‘No’. Make sure to have both your work and personal goals and activities scheduled in. This allows you to say, “Let me check my planner.” And then reply with, “Oh, it looks like I am booked at that time (that day, that week, that hour, etc)”. Don’t feel obliged to give explanations – just a simple I am booked at this time will do. Remember this includes personal time. It is just as important to respect yourself by including time for a massage or a lunch date with a friend, as it is to include time for a doctor’s appointment.
Friends and family may make this difficult for you. “Well what are you doing? Why can’t you do it? Why can’t you come?” Stick with your guns. Simply say, “I am sorry I can’t at that time. Maybe it will work out in the future.” Don’t feel obliged to give details unless you want to. Although at times it may help to be honest and say, “I am swamped with work and don’t have a minute to spare; maybe next time.” The more they hear comments like this, the more obliging they will be.
2. Postpone Your Reply — It may be easier to say, ‘I will think about it’, and then say ‘No’ later. Allow your decisions to be pro-active (in your control) rather than re-active (in someone else’s control). This gives you a chance to look at your priorities and see if this opportunity fits. Sometimes you need to say ‘No’ to great opportunities as well. I was invited to a free ski day as a volunteer appreciation gift. As much as I love to ski, I had to say ‘No’ to the opportunity because I had a presentation the next day. I felt that a day of skiing would not leave me prepared for one of my main priorities – my speaking career.