When To Say No (It’s more often than you think!)

It comes with the territory. People see mamas as wonder women, getting all the things done. I mean, face it, we are rock stars in our own right. We are taking care of other little humans, and there is nothing more rock star than that. So, others see all the awesomeness and think, “they could do {insert given task, event planning, craft, etc.} too!” Here’s where I am going to write my first no. NO, you don’t have to, and no you don’t have to feel bad. If you are anything like me, that mom guilt will instinctively kick in. Consider this list your permission for your own wellbeing. You’re welcome.

  1. Family visits – Family is everything! We love our family! But you have every right to limit when and how you see your family. You know when your children will need a nap, have a meltdown or be hungry for more than aunt Edna’s rice pudding and cause a scene. It is way better to set a time that works for your family unit, instead of having high-stress, low-enjoyment when you are together with your extended family members. Respecting your children and their routines might be a “no” to others, but it is a big yes for you at the end of the day.
  2. Clutter – The holidays bring gifts, and treats and decorations abound. Don’t drown in other peoples’ things they think you will like. Say thank you. Be grateful. But use your inside voice to shout “No!” to cluttering up your home. I have been working hard to get stuff out of my drawers and closets that were filled with things we don’t wear, use or need. I’m not planning on filling it back up again anytime soon. Keep things that mean something to you, that make you feel good, that honour people you love, and that you can have fun with. If your friends hit the nail on the head with gifts, lucky you! But try the one-in-one-out rule to keep your clutter at bay.
  3. Volunteering – I’m a firm believer of giving back where you can. I volunteer, but on my own terms. I give where I can, be it my time, my money or my donations. Don’t feel obligated to squeeze in as much volunteering as you can, because you will feel exhausted and underappreciated. You’re a stay-at-home mom? Great. You are a working mom? Also, great. BOTH positions are chosen, and decisions have been made for your family and your time to be well spent. If you want to volunteer your time, go for it. Set your boundaries, regardless of what your “work hours” look like. And don’t feel guilty about it.
  4. Brain picking – “Can I pick your brain?” we have all heard it. I am more than willing to help out pretty much anyone. I love sharing my expertise, and instilling any form of knowledge to others that I have picked up along the way. Heck, that’s why I have a blog! But again, you need to set limits on when to do that, and for how long. And do yourself a favor and be clear in what is requested of you in this chit chat. It will help you determine if you say no faster.
  5. Extracurricular Activities – Does your child love hockey, soccer, gymnastics, art, music and swimming? Fantastic. You are raising a well-rounded, creative little person who will surely become a stellar part of society. Now, if your child does not register in a professional team or league for each of these activities, that is really OK. As a rule of thumb, we let our children decide on two activities per season. That is all. That doesn’t mean they can’t play music or paint a masterpiece at home. It just means we aren’t paying (in time and money) for more than that each season. Feel comfortable in saying no to your children. If we have learned anything about our time in the last two years, it is to choose these activities wisely, and not overload our schedule.
  6. Overeating – when it comes to get-togethers, inevitably, there is some form of eating involved. I love food. But lately, I have been shying away from some meats and I can get downright nauseous if I eat certain spices. If you don’t have serious dietary constrains it’s hard to say no, right? Wrong. Say no. Say it proudly. Get used to saying it, especially around food. Coming from a family that loves to cook and bake, half of which are Italian, it can be tricky, but possible. Yeah, you might cause a fuss with some people, but if they love you, they won’t be watching your every spoonful anyway, they will be happy with your company.

I hope this list will help you say no with ease. Because let’s face it, saying yes doesn’t always mean you’re helping anyone or yourself if it’s done with guilt. Saying yes to saying no can be the best thing you do for everyone involved!


This post was originally written for MomResource.ca . Their fantastic site was a wonderful hub of information for parents in all areas for over 20 years. I was truly honoured to contribute to the site with each and every post I wrote. MomResource.ca has recently shut down, so I will be sharing my posts here over time, with some slight alterations.

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