The Art of Saying No

Children force you to rethink your priorities.  I have optimized and organized and still never have enough time.  I am a do-er and a learner by nature; there is so much I want to do and be.  But I can’t do it all right now and still be a great mom, my number one priority.  I can’t be a good mom unless I am caring for myself, my mental and physical health.  My husband and I cannot parent together and equally if we are not constantly communicating and working on our relationship. 

Before I commit to anything new I need to evaluate how it fits into those three priorities: myself, my marriage, and momming. 

I wake up around 5a to workout for my physical and mental well-being.  As any parent can attest, solo time to pursue their passions is critical to maintaining sanity.  That is where fitness, my career and this blog fit in.  My husband and I find time nearly every week to really sit and talk uninterrupted.  If we are lucky we make it out of the house, but sometimes it’s just sitting on the couch talking (no TV!) after the kids are in bed.

There are days when I am doing my best and it feels like I am failing across the board. My best now is much much different than my best before kids. There are days when I do my best at work and barely see my kids. There are other days when I do my best, have an amazing morning with my kids, and then only make it into the office for five hours. There are days where I intend to have a great day with the kids and everyone (including me) throws temper tantrums.

Always do your best is the agreement that everybody can do.  Your best is, in fact, the only thing you can do…You’re always giving 100 percent – that’s always your intention – it’s just that your best is always changing.  From one moment to the next, you are never the same.  You are alive and changing all the time, and your best is also changing from one moment to the next.

Ruiz, Miguel. The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom. Amber-Allen Publishing, 1997As a parent, as a wife, as a professional, as a woman I need to constantly remind myself of this quote.  By saying “No” more than I would have before kids, I know that I am doing my best for myself, my marriage and momming.

I cannot sign my son up for swim class, soccer and yoga and still have healthy home cooked meals every night.  What’s a higher priority for me right now; my kiddo involved in multiple activities or healthy meals for the family?  For me, it’s teaching my children to cook and eat nutritious meals; it’s sharing stories of our day around the dinner table (at least for as long as a toddler can hold a conversation).  If you would choose differently – great!  As a parent, maybe your priorities differ and that is what makes you an amazing parent to your kids.  As long as your choice to say “Yes” aligns with your priorities for raising your children; go for it!  

It is not necessarily what you choose, but why you choose it.

If you were to ask my husband he would say I still need to work on this.  I sign myself, my kids and him up for too much.  That is a fair assessment; to go from saying yes to everything before kids to recognizing my limits after kids has been a tough transition.

Now I ask myself if saying “Yes” will enhance my or my family’s life.  Will the craziness be worth it or is it just unnecessary stress I’m adding to our lives? 

I don’t know about you, but I am not a good parent if I am stressed.  When my son says “Mom you should take a deep breath and count to 4” (thanks Daniel Tiger!) it usually means I’m doing too much or trying too hard.  

Take that deep breath, count to four, and ask yourself if what you’re doing aligns with your priorities.  If it does, take one more deep breath, count to four and move forward with confidence.  If it doesn’t, you just discovered something you can work to change and improve your life.

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