As a parent, can you relate to Mary’s wanting to help everyone and then feeling overextended and underappreciated? From your kids asking for your assistance on things they could handle themselves to the multiple volunteer requests from school or church, it’s easy to agree to doing too much.
Your feelings can provide a wonderful indication of where you might be overcommitting. Are there things you are doing that leave you feeling resentful? Do you feel annoyed that you’re doing more than your fair share? When you focus on your feelings, you discover where things need to change.
Once you identify where you’d like to cut back, you need to be able to do this. A beginning step is to start saying “no” to any additional requests that don’t fit your priorities and responsibilities.
Nine Creative Ways to Say No
If you’re like many people, you struggle to say “no” to requests. The good news is that the more you practice, the better you will become!
Thanks to Renee Peterson Trudeau, life balance teacher/speaker and author of The Mother's Guide to Self-Renewal: How to Reclaim, Rejuvenate and Re-Balance Your Life
for giving permission to include these nine different ways to say no from her book:
- Just No: “Thanks, I’ll have to pass on that.” (Say it, then shut up.)
- The Gracious No: “I really appreciate you asking me, but my time is already committed.”
- The “I’m Sorry” No: “I wish I could, but it’s just not going to work right now.”
- The “It’s Someone Else’s Decision” No: “I promised my coach (therapist, etc.) I wouldn’t take on any more projects right now. I’m working on creating more balance in my life.”
- The “My Family is the Reason” No: “Thanks so much for the invite, but that’s the day of my son’s soccer game, and I never miss those.”
- The “I Know Someone Else” No: “I just don’t have time right now. Let me recommend someone who may be able to help you.”
- The “I’m Already Booked” No: “I appreciate you thinking of me, but I’m afraid I’m already booked that day.”
- The “Setting Boundaries” No: “Let me tell you what I can do …” Then limit the commitment to what will be comfortable for you.
- The “Not No, But Not Yes” No: “Let me think about it, and I’ll get back to you.”
These ideas can work with your kids and other adults. The last phrase, “Let me think about it, and I’ll get back to you.” is especially powerful when your kids make a request that you’re not quite comfortable with granting. It’s far better to give yourself time to think than to agree to something you later regret.
By focusing on your priorities and declining requests that ultimately conflict with them, you’ll be on your way to feeling less exhausted and more in control. Improve your life by getting comfortable saying a form of “Sorry honey, that’s not my table!”