Nearly 30 years ago I won a writing contest for an essay with the same title as this post, but in third grade – and writing for the DARE program – I was writing about a very different topic. In recent months, “just say no” has become my mantra, and it has nothing to do with drugs.
There is not a parent in America who isn’t busy. There are lunches to pack and homework to manage. These things aren’t optional, kids need to eat and math worksheets are mandatory. Fortunately, a lot of the other things that caused me added stress in the past, are not required. And I’m learning, slowly but surely, to just say no.
I have some guidelines in place. If it doesn’t improve the quality of life for our family, I don’t feel compelled to do it. If I don’t enjoy it, I don’t do it. If I’m tired and need some down time, I say no.
In certain communities (including ours), the pressure to do everything is there. Volunteer at school, have your kids in three sports (at once) plus music lessons and the list goes on. And if that makes you (and your kids) happy, that’s great. If it makes you feel like a crazy person, like it does for me, it’s okay to just say no.
I hated art class as a kid, so will I volunteer for art corps lessons at school? That would be a “hell no.” I don’t enjoy baking, so will I make something for the cake walk fundraiser? Absolutely not, but I’ll gladly buy something and drop it off. Can I join the PTA? No, because they meet during the day, but I’m happy to join the foundation because I want to help the school, the meetings are at night, and Chase and I can make a date night out of it.
I make time for the things I enjoy (exercise, my side business, time with friends), but my priority is my family. And they like me much better when I’m sane. So please forgive me when I just say no. And know that when you do the same, I’ll completely understand.