I’ll start out by saying that I feel like a bit of a hypocrite broaching this topic because I have by no means figured out the art of saying no, but I think this is an important topic.
Even though I am a mom, I still want to “do it all.” I want to spend time with my family and friends, work, volunteer, travel, join another book club, exercise, go out to dinner, write a blog, keep up with politics and pop culture and more. All while being the best mom I can be. As many before me have discovered, this is not humanly possible. Something has to give.
I recently decided to take an inventory of the way I was spending my time outside of work. The biggest take away for me was that it was less about WHAT I was actually doing, and more about how much I was doing. The times I was most stressed out were the weeks that I was out 2-3 nights a week, meaning 12-15 hour days away from home. Even when I was doing enjoyable THINGS (i.e. going to a Celtics game after working all day), being out that much caused me to be more stressed. Especially because I still had bills to pay, lunches to make, laundry to wash and a house to clean. I simply had fewer hours to do it in and less hours available to sleep.
So how can I fix this? I am starting with 2 straightforward approaches:
1)When I make commitments, I look at them within the context of the entire week. I try to limit myself to being out 2 week nights and one weekend evening. Yes, it may mean making plans further ahead, but for me this seems to be a good balance.
2)Just say no. I’m a social person by nature. I love having many things going on at the same time and really enjoy being involved in many things at the same time. Not surprisingly, that means I’m often the first to offer help out a friend, volunteer for community events, and make plans to go out. I am making a conscious effort to evaluate what I am involved in now, and to not add anything more to my plate temporarily. Then I can take a step back and focus my efforts on what I think is really important. Ultimately, I’ll be able to give more of myself to fewer commitments. I’m continuing to try and be a caring and supportive friend, but also reminding myself that what that looks like needs to be balanced within my current reality.
Finding a balance in life is hard and continues to be a work in progress for me. (I’m going to go out on a limb and say I’m not the only one.) I welcome comments on how you work to achieve in finding balance in your life, or tips on how to say no!