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You’ve got it all figured out perfectly on paper. Worked in your work-outs, meal-planned your month, and divvied up those family jobs together. And, oh yeah, let’s not forget about your day-job. So now that everything’s finally running so darned smoothly, why are you feeling so darned spent?
N to the O.
When our babies are born, we cuddle/rock/sling/nurse whenever there’s a hint of a complaint (and often before). We feel so powerless most of the time that if we’re able to control the situation, well, we put the pedal to the metal. But as those babies grow, they catch on faster than us. Their newborn cries turn into toddler demands and we… never see it coming. We’re so busy trying to make everyone else happy all the time that we don’t even notice until we completely. burn. out.
So, the first step, learn to say no to your fam. This means not doing things they can do themselves and not inconveniencing yourself to the max to make everything super-convenient for everyone else. You can put your feet up during nap-time and dinner will survive. You can tell your four year-old to walk so the baby can have the stroller and you don’t have to sling it. Sometimes you can make it a learning experience by simply replying “What do you think?” and coming to that logical conclusion together. Other times you can say it with a cherry on top to make it easier to swallow. For example, let’s say your seven-year-old asks to get take-out for dinner. Your smiling response: “Sure, next week when it’s your night to choose,” or “I’ve already defrosted the chicken. But wait until you see dessert!” And sometimes you don’t have to be too sweet, especially when there’s a lesson to be learned. That reply might go something like “I wish we could but you didn’t finish your lunch today,” or “Well, if you’d done your homework right away after school we’d have time to go, but now you have too much work to do.” Yup, they won’t like that answer, but it gets your point across without you having to nag yet again (which they don’t like even more). And then there’s always the flat-out no. You don’t have to sugar-coat this one at all. Best if used sparingly so they know EXACTLY when you mean business.
Once you’ve mastered the fam-no’s, it’s time to face the world. Can you help supervize pizza lunch since you’ll already be volunteering at school that morning? Nope. Can my super-annoying kid come with you to that birthday party and by the way can he also come over for a playdate? I don’t think so. Do you want to add an extra two dollars to your grocery bill for us to give to blah-blah-blah? Already did last time. Can we sign you up as back-up coach for your son’s soccer team? Uh, let me think about that…. no. It’s not that you shouldn’t be donating your time and/or money when you can (we all should!), but you get to choose each worthy cause so you’re not spread too thin. And when you make that effort and choose wisely there’s absolutely no need to feel guilty when you have to put your foot down.
The final NO to master is the one you have to say to yourself. Most of us set the bar pretty high. Too high. We expect a lot from everyone but we demand the most from ourselves. So when you carve out every minute of your day for everything you have to do, and then you make time for everything you’re supposed to do, there’s really nothing left. Those wants… they get pushed to the bottom of your list. Unless you take a break once in a while you’ll never get to the wants. Your house may be super clean, your buns of steel may be rock-hard, but your mind, well, it needs to chill. We’ve been known to skip a week of our chore chart now and then, TV-veg instead of working out when we’ve had a little too much muscle burn, and even keep the kids home for a PJ/mental-health-day once in a while. This is called taking a vacay from the everyday, and guys, it’s awesome.
Overscheduling isn’t good for anyone. You need time to free-play just as much as your munchkins, and there’s no shame in that. If you’re honest and don’t make up excuses when you say no, you won’t feel guilty. Take a page from your toddler’s playbook and put yourself first for a change.
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