Tuesday, May 10, 2011

10 stress strategies every mom needs--part two

I was lucky enough to be able to attend the Hearts at Home national conference this year. This was by far my favorite workshop, given by Jill Savage herself. Over a small series of posts, I'm going to share the tips that impacted me the most.  You can catch part one here.  I mean, I didn't need these or anything--I'm just sharing in case any of you have those kind of days. M'kay?

3. Learn to say NO.

Doesn't that just conjure up an image of Nancy Reagan?

This is a concept I really, really struggle with. But I am learning that not being able to say NO to things leads to a Mommy who is spread much too thin--and that is good for no one.

Several weeks ago, we had a crazier-than-usual week: ball practice on Monday and Tuesday, church Wednesday, a church to clean on Thursday night (we have recently taken over our church's janitorial duties), a church activity on Saturday (which I attended with the children by myself because Shane was out of town working the entire weekend), church itself on Sunday morning and Sunday night.  (It really sounds like I am singling out church activities, but I promise--I mean all activities across the board!)

It was a lot of activity.

That same week, Colin had been invited to a Sunday afternoon birthday skating party. It was important to him, and I said YES to letting him go.

One of Jill's main points about learning to say NO was to "carefully consider the brain space {and the physical stamina!} that this YES will require." We should "step away from the peer pressure, evaluate, and then answer."

I failed to do that. Big time.

In reality, agreeing to simply 'let Colin go to a party' was actually agreeing to
1. load up everyone by myself
2. head to the skating rink straight after church
3. stay there from 1-4 p.m. and attempt to help three very unsteady boys skate while corralling their just-walking sister
4. fly home to grab some food for the kids and myself, and then fly back to church by 5 p.m. for choir practice and our evening service
all while already physically and emotionally drained by the events of the week, and all while being by. my. self.

I bet it would come as no surprise that I collapsed in a heap of tears that Sunday evening. I was stressed out and exhausted. Correction--I had allowed myself to become stressed out and exhausted.

And, I vowed right then to never say YES again on the spot. To never say YES because of peer pressure. To never say YES simply for fear of disappointing someone.

Jill said: "When you say NO, don't think you have to give a long list of excuses."

But don't we all do that?

"I can't .... I  have to ....  and we are going to be .... and I've got to do ..... fill in the blank."

We give excuses because we fear what people will think of us when we say NO.  I think a great answer, when you need to say NO, is to simply and kindly state the facts: "Thank you for thinking of me, but I can't at this time."

We have to remember that saying NO allows others an opportunity to say YES! There are people everywhere who are doing things--serving in schools and churches and many other places--because there was someone before them who couldn't, and they stepped up to the plate.

Jill pointed out something I'd never thought of before: that we may be 'capable', but we may not be 'called'.

I know that that is exactly my problem.  I see a need somewhere; I know that I could do a pretty good job of filling that need; and then I jump in without weighing the ramifications on myself and my family.  But just because I can do something doesn't mean I should.

Isn't it better to do a few things really well than to do too many things poorly, simply because you are spread too thin from trying to do too much?

Learn to say "NO".  How are you at this? What tips can you give on how you handle saying "NO" in your life?


Unknown said...

Isn't that so true? And you know, I'd like to say, everyone has a different level to the activities they can handle. I feel like I have to say no a lot but in the end, it's just so worth it. :)