Tired Mamas

How to know when to say no

Hi!  This is “Senior Mom”.  Project Grad co-chair resigned and they need help with the Christmas open house.  I am helping to organize.  We are in desperate need of homes for the tour.  Would you be willing to put your house on the Christmas tour?  Thanks, “Senior Mom”

It’s that time of year for those of us with school aged children.  This is the text I received two weeks ago from a mom of one of my son’s friend.  It was so tempting to say, “Sure”.  For the past six years, my husband and I have made a date out of the Christmas home tour featuring homes in our neighborhood and surrounding ones all benefitting the Project Grad senior night party, giving our high school’s seniors a safe place to celebrate graduation together.   Several times I have said that we would host one year, but probably not until our baby’s senior year.  This year I just had to say no for many reasons, the least of these being the upstairs carpet is a mess.  No, I mean really a mess.  Not only is it stained from the previous owners (yes seven years and it hasn’t been replaced) but it has a big cut in the hallway effectively making it two pieces where my hubby had to pull it all up to re-wire our kitchen below to insert my double ovens when the single oven died unexpectedly two years ago. I have worked to overcome my idea of a “perfect house” before people come over.  It still bugs me, but I try really hard to not let it stop me, but we could not have people tripping all over the upstairs!   It is on the list to replace but other household improvements keep relegating it to the bottom of the list.  You know things like refrigerator and hot water heaters failing.  Priorities, right?

54ff15ded377f-ghk-scheduling-secrets-02-s2-2This is exactly my point.  Priorities are important.  Priorities are important to the mother that gets frequent requests to do and attend and participate in many “good” projects and events.  The carpet wasn’t my only issue for saying no to the tour request.  Hosting an open house in December this year was simply not good for me or our family this year.  Thankfully, I have become much better in being slow to say, “yes”.  Today, I want to share a few thoughts on why you do not want to be a “do it all” mom.

First, it is really helpful if you sit down and identify the roles you play.  Many years ago I remember author Donna Otto’s suggestion to write these roles down in their order of priority.  ( Child of God, Wife, mother, employee, daughter, sister, etc)  Then as you make scheduling and life decisions go back to that list and ask yourself, will saying “yes” help me in these roles or will it hinder me from being the kind of wife, mother, employee, etc. that I want to be.  Practice this with your decisions until it becomes a habit in your mind.  The decisions we face in scheduling as multi-faceted women is not between “bad” and “worse”, rather we usually have to choose between “good”, “better” and “best”.   The priority list brings clarity as we glean through the offers given to us.

Second, look ahead.  How many years do you hope to be able to be involved?  How many years will you have children in school? Some of you may have all of your children close in age, some of us have them spread out.  Regardless of which one you have, I want to caution you on burnout.  When you have children close in age you feel like you are doing the same events over and over.  When they are spread out it is easy to think, “I have already been here and done this, like five years ago.”  Fight these thoughts because each child deserves your energy and enthusiasm.  This is why you need to be cautious about over committing.  Remember we are marathon parenting and not sprinting.  You do not want to be burned out before you reach the finish line.

I now volunteer only for those school/child events which fit one or more of these criteria:

  • Does my child have an interest in this organization or is being blessed by it?
  •  Is it something I can do without affecting my other priorities?
  •  Would my time be better spent helping in a different way or with my child?

I don’t know about you, but these are hard questions for me.  They do help me narrow down to what is “best”.  Finally, consider that just like your priorities have different weights of importance, so should many of your child’s activities/commitments.  For instance, sports teams are good for many reasons, but not if the child is failing academically because of the time spent in sports.  For us, time spent worshipping, in Bible study and time with youth group friends ranks really high.  It sometimes means that other opportunities have to receive a “no”, even though they are really good opportunities.

Hectic_familyOur experience has been that sports, rather than other extra curricular activities, have always been our biggest conflict.  I know how hard it is to tell a child and a coach that you are sorry your child will miss that ballgame because you are not going to skip worship for it.  We have also told coaches that we would not be at practices on Wednesday nights due to a commitment to be at Bible study.  Interestingly enough, we have had coaches thank us because they were missing study at their church but thought no one else still reserved Wednesdays for this.  As far as I can tell none of my children are any the worse off for it.  No, none of them have gone or will go to college on an athletic scholarship, but people I must let you in on a secret, less than two percent of students in NCAA schools go there on an athletic scholarship.  Of that number, across all sports, only two percent go on to play in professional sports.  Think of all the time, money, and “best” opportunities we sacrifice on the altar of sports teams.

Again, I am a huge fan of sports and all of my kids have played at various levels, but don’t let the hype surrounding sports teams make you crazy as a mother because you must start them “young”.   The only advantage to starting them young is they may not be able to play when they are older if you are in a big market but it is certainly no guarantee for scholarships.  Most coaches say kids that start really young have bad habits and too many injuries.  Fight the parental peer pressure and do what is best for your child and your family.

file5721235854303Okay, I am done ranting.  My message is if feel like you are on a merry go round, step off for a moment and look carefully.  Make sure your on the horse you really want to be on.

Tell us what you have trouble saying “no” to?

Next week…why I have already written my eulogy.




Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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One thought on “Tired Mamas

  1. Great post! I’m not a mama yet, but I think what you share is applicable for most people no matter where they are in life. It’s hard to choose between “good” and “good.” However, sometimes there’s a better option in the mix. I really like how you look ahead and consider how many years you’re hoping to be involved. It can be hard to step back after being committed, so thinking about that on the forefront can help prevent tricky situations later.