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  • Bridget Richard, LISW-S

Another Good Reason to "Just Say No"


Follow your own advise they say. Be an example they say. But they don't have my life, my responsibilities, my schedule! Said every mom ever. I was pondering this as I was bringing up the mountain of clean laundry that had accumulated in my basement over the past month. All month I dutifully washed load after load, and then ignored the growing pile on the floor in favor of catching up on other projects that desperately needed my attention, and not surprisingly still do. Lately, I have been trying to stick to my own advice on an article I read about not keeping a “to do” list. In the article they state that those cursed lists are dumping grounds for those things we either needed to do right then, or never should have said “yes” to in the first place. These so called helpful lists negatively reinforce the idea that you are overwhelmed and have failed. I could related to that assessment. But in trying to finish off and rid myself of the dreaded “to do” list I found myself still playing a game of mommy whack-a-mole. It seemed every time I got caught up in one area another two desperately needed my attention.

How on earth do I get myself into these situations?!? I thought I was doing everything right. I have my kids in one sport or lessons at a time. I work mostly when my kids are in school. I have one...okay two , PTA's and then family commitments. I see other people doing it. Working full time with more children than I have, and still being engaged with their family, friends, and volunteering. What am I doing wrong? Then it hit me like a brick. I am not doing anything wrong. I am doing what many others are doing. Too much. I set my bar high and have many goals, and my schedule is filled just to the tippy top. However there is no padding, no down time, no relaxation. So when something outside of our routine does come up I have to shuffle things around in order to try and squeeze out another hour out of an already jam packed day. Invariably, out of the 100 things I am juggling at once at least one or two get dropped. Then I feel guilty for not trying hard enough to help, or not keeping up with those things I already am depended on for.

What is the answer for me and mom's like me? Many professionals in my field advocate for scheduling in relaxation and downtime. Phewy! I say we need to just schedule less. If we have down time allotted in our day we have room for the unexpected. Then when something out of the blue comes up we are able to attend to it. According to the Cleveland Clinic when we are stressed we can become forgetful, have difficulty concentrating, and feel isolated and alone. Physically stress can cause high blood pressure, high cholesterol and a weakened immune system. So I asked myself, do I have the time to say “yes” to one more comity or one more event? It might seem like I do, but then will I have time to take care of the mound of laundry, or take mom to the doctor, or volunteer at my kids school? Nope, and now I can't make "to do" lists either. So my new resolution is to say “no” to more activity, and “yes” to more relaxation. Yes to working out, taking walks, baking muffins, and planting flowers. This way I will have time for the unexpected, because I made the time by saying "no". Sure some people might be upset at first. Ultimately, though I will be a better helper by concentrating my efforts where they are needed the most, and a happier healthier person as well.

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