I’ve always been one of those people who creates work for herself. Even when I think I couldn’t be busier, I sign up for a new club or say yes to helping out with something else. I like to try new things and I get bored easily, so I think it’s my subconscious way of keeping my mind fresh and using up energy.
Not to mention that in today’s world, it’s cool to be “busy.” It’s almost a competition – who has less time, who is juggling the most. But now that I have a baby, things have changed. I AM busy. Even before AJ was born, I knew that she would always be my number one priority. It’s easy to say that, but in reality it means constantly evaluating my activities and decisions to make sure I’m not letting the seemingly important but in reality “busy work” get the best of me and my time. And that means saying, “no,” which isn’t always easy to do.
It’s okay to say “no” sometimes! When I’m asked to do something, either by someone else or myself, I no longer immediately say yes. I think about it, even if just for a moment – is this important? How will this affect my parenting with AJ and my relationship with my husband? Will this mean I get less time with my family? If so, is it important enough to warrant that time missed? If not, then I say no. I’d say this resolve is the closest thing I have to a “parenting style.” Being a parent isn’t the only part of my life, but it’s the most important part.
Here are a few examples of how I’ve put this theory into practice lately. The first you may have noticed – I’ve been absent from this blog for several weeks. I’ve been working on a couple big projects at work, which meant working later hours and weekends. These were important projects and the time was warranted and necessary. So I decided to say “no” to blog writing for a few weeks to make up for some of the lost time with AJ. Now that I’m getting back to a regular schedule, I’m back at it on the blog (I can feel your excitement).
It might seem silly, but another thing I’ve said no to recently is Twitter. I haven’t logged on or posted something in weeks. I’m on many different social media platforms, and frankly I find trying to keep them all updated exhausting. Twitter just happened to be the one I started to ignore.
Sometimes, saying no even means saying no to fun things, like a night out with friends, or traveling. If I’m feeling stressed and stretched thin, adding one more thing I “have” to do to the list (even if it’s meant to be fun) will not be fun for me or the people I’m spending time with. I want to present my best self to my friends and family; I don’t want to give them the stressed, crabby version of myself. So every now and then I have to take a rain check.
Saying “no” also means sometimes saying no at work. When someone contacts me at 4:55 p.m. and asks me to do something, I will ask if it can wait until the next day. The work will be there tomorrow, the same as it was today. But AJ changes every day. Not to mention I have to get to day care before it closes.
Saying “no” means setting clear expectations and being in control of your own time. If you haven’t said no to something lately, I highly recommend you try it. It’s great. The stress you didn’t know you had just disappears, and you can really feel the weight lifted off your shoulders.
I’m taking a vacation day today. When I set up my out of office, I did something wild. I said I would not be checking my email. We all know the standard out of office message, “I will be out of the office and will have limited access to email.” Yeah right. Everyone knows almost everyone has email on his or her phone and can check it whenever they want. So I decided to just tell the truth – I’m on vacation, and I’m saying no to emails. I’m using my vacation day to spend time with my daughter and get some things done around the house. If I’m checking my email, I’m working, therefore not taking vacation.
It might not be “cool” to try to make my life less busy, but I’m a mom, and I stopped caring about being cool a long time ago. I say yes to a lot of things. I like to be involved, I like to help out, and I like to have fun with my family and friends. But sometimes, I say “no” to the non-essential so I can say “yes” to the most important.
Kelly Weikle and her husband Chris are navigating the uncharted road of parenthood with their infant daughter, AJ. Kelly shares the ups, downs, laughs, and cries of new motherhood on The Mommyhood every Monday. When not discovering what everyone else who has a child already knows, Kelly works full time in corporate communications.