With the start of school and a plethora of fall events and invites, this past month has been the busiest on record. Or, I should say, it started out that way.
Parenting and Saying “No” in a “Yes” World
I've started doing something that has ensured my family and I aren't going crazy with too many activities. For me, it's one of my keys to mindful, easier and better parenting.
It's the simple act of saying “no”–and I'm not talking about saying “no” to the kiddos. (That's another topic ripe for debate, right mamas?)
I'm talking about declining numerous things that, in and of themselves, would be great. But add them to everything else on our “to do” list and all they would offer up is unnecessary stress.
Saying “no” requires being really honest with myself and others. It requires taking the time to think about my family's priorities, being mindful about what's best for me and my family, and knowing how to communicate effectively with others.
Saying “no” also takes discipline. Because I'm not only talking about saying it to outside events but also to things inside the home like the t.v., iPod and video games…to put it simply–time- and mind-wasters. Sure, some t.v. and other things are relaxing and educational. Everything in moderation, right? However, I'm trying not to let them take over. It's such a slippery slope.
Of course, a big part of this is slowing down, being mindful of what's important, being present, taking a breath, relaxing, listening and connecting with those important to us. As I'm thinking about this post, I keep hearing that Simon and Garfunkel “Feelin' Groovy” song in my head: “Slow down, you move too fast. You've gotta make the morning last…” They were onto something, no?;”
So I've said “no” to a lot of things lately. And you know what? I haven't missed them. Sure, it takes courage at first. Sure, I felt guilty. But it made room for us to enjoy the things we said “yes” to. The activities we did do were that much more fun, less stressful, less rushed and meaningful.
These days people often are made to feel guilty if they sit down and relax, don’t have a big activity planned, don’t attend an event or take part in everything little thing. But quieting everything and taking a breath, focusing on being together and maybe relaxing over the weekend after a busy week of school has been key for us.
Multitasking may get a lot of things done, but is it meaningful in the grand scheme of your family's emotions, connections, well-being, and growth? Probably not. So that's why, as we're hit by a tidal wave of back-to-school activities, I've been focusing on the art of saying “no” to certain things so we can say “yes” to others. I'm still working on it, but I've come a long way!
What do you think? Do you feel overextended? Pressured into saying yes? How do you say no?