Saying No Without Guilt

Okay, so I am on this journey with you guys and today's topic is a definite problem for me.

How do we say "no" without feeling guilty? 

It’s not that hard to say no by cheerfulmonk, on Flickr

If we do not learn the all important lesson of saying "no" then we can easily become overwhelmed by various activities and end up working like a full-time employee but without the pay which leaves us burnt out and discouraged. Let's take a peek at a few steps toward balancing our lives and learning how to say that two-letter word.

1. You are the only one who knows what is best for you and your family.
Many women work outside the home this day and age. Therefore when someone finds out that you are a stay at home Mom they assume you must have the extra time to volunteer for a ministry, head up a bake sale, run a car pool, etc. If you have extra time and are praying for another ministry opportunity or a way to help then by all means, jump on in but if time is already an issue keep in mind that it is okay to say "no". Remember... your family is your first ministry.

2. Never say "yes" right away. 
I mentioned in last week's post how doing so has left me drained and proven to be disastrous more often than naught. Tell the person asking for help that you will need to have time to think/pray about it and that you will get back to them at a later date. This will save you much regret and keep you from making a hasty decision based on self-inflicted guilt. If you know right away that the opportunity set before you is not your cup of tea then by all means feel free to say "no" on the spot.

3. When thinking about agreeing to a time commitment remember to figure in prep time as well. 
Many of us forget to factor in the time needed to fully complete a job. I cannot even begin to count how many times I have been  late because I forgot to factor in travel time or diaper change time.

I was up until midnight making seven dozen cookies for an event because I forgot to add up how much time each batch would take to make, bake, cool, and frost and then I still needed to deliver them the next morning.

When budgeting your time do not forget to look at all of the steps needed to commit to an activity. If someone approaches you and asks you to make three dozen finger sandwiches and you really do not have the time then say "I'm sorry but I cannot do that".

4. When thinking about long term commitments consider the needs of your family and how such a decision will affect them as well as your household responsibilities. Also take into account the time crunches that may be involved with such a decision.

Being the leader of a home school co-op may sound like great fun but after a few months you realize that you spend a lot of time planning activities, scheduling field trips, and making phone calls. Meanwhile, the laundry is piling up, your children are arguing with each other more these days and the budget has gone by the wayside. Do not allow your family responsibilities to be sacrificed for your volunteer responsibilities.

5. Consider the mental toll this responsibility will take.
Have you ever been listening to your children tell you about something that happened during the day and you see their mouth moving but nothing is connecting in your brain because you have a mental list of all the things that need to be done? When our mind is cluttered we are not mentally available for our family.

6. You do not have to do something every moment of every day.
 It is okay to have unscheduled moments. In fact, it is GOOD to have down time. It is refreshing to mind, body and soul to take a break. As a Type A personality, I am a "do-er" and I enjoy being busy. When I have free block of time it is just another moment where I can say "yes" to something or squeeze in another activity. Well, is that what is best for me and my family? Most of the time probably not. Sometimes what is best is to snuggle on Momma's bed and read books for that free hour just to have some down time. If you are like me and have a hard time with "free time" make sure to mark it in on your calendar and schedule it like you would any other event/activity. It is important for your health and the health of your family.

7. Set a limit to the number of long term commitments you have.

8. Ask for accountability.
If I truly want to accomplish a goal then I seek out an accountability partner... someone I know who will get in my face and help me accomplish that goal. Many times it is my husband other times I will ask a close friend. Find someone who can help you in your quest to saying "no". Confide in this person about how many commitments you would like to stick with and let them review your schedule if needed to help keep you balanced. Eventually you will get into a healthy groove and you will no longer need the accountability but in the beginning it is helpful to have that extra support.

9. When you do say "no" do not feel like you have to give a long list of excuses.
You know what is best for you and your family. If you feel that you need/must give an excuse just say that it does not fit into your schedule right now and leave it at that.

10. You do not need to say "yes" just because you are capable of doing the job.
 Remember the saying "The need does not necessarily constitute the call". Maybe you are a person who has a special gift with kids therefore you are sought after to babysit, head up VBS, lead a game night, or other activities. Always pray about commitments before you make them and then weigh if you have the time, energy, and resources after factoring in your other volunteer responsibilities and your family. Are there things you would need to give up in order to do the job properly and are those things worth giving up for this new commitment?

11. If you are feeling overwhelmed currently, take a step back and reevaluate your priorities.
Determine what responsibilities you need to let go off. Give a one-month heads up to the organizations you will no longer be able to be a part of. I know it is hard letting go of a responsibility but if you are stacking too much on your plate you need to cut back somewhere.
I recently told our church that I would no longer be able to be a nursery worker. Baby number three is due in a few weeks and I want to make sure I can pour my time and energy into my family at this crucial time in our lives where we are welcoming a new member into our family and dealing with adjustments.

It is healthy to step back and reevaluate your commitments. Once you pare things down set new boundaries for yourself so you do not become over committed again.

12. Remember that saying "no" allows someone else the opportunity to say "yes". 
What a lovely thought. We do not want to take volunteer opportunities away from others. Take the time to take your kids to the park, have a date with your husband, write a letter to a friend, go out to coffee with the girls and just relax. It is amazing how we forget to schedule these simple things into our lives and they are easily let go of once we become over committed.

Remember that saying "yes" to some activities outside the home is necessary for your sanity. As Moms we need to know that there is life outside of diapers, bottles, crayon writing on the wall, and dirty dishes.

Time with other adults to converse about "big people things" is important. Remember to choose your volunteer activities wisely so you can choose what is best and not merely what is good. Once we can achieve balance in our schedules we will have more patience with our families, more time for that which is important, and some much needed time to refresh ourselves.

This message has been brought to you by me... just another Mommy trying to make sense out of chaos. Thanks for learning with me. Blessings to you all!


As mentioned in a previous post... most of the ideas I have been writing about are inspired by the book Professionalizing Motherhood by: Jill Savage.  Please do pick it up today... it is a wealth of knowledge and encouragement for Mommas.