Young kids are very good at wielding that two-letter word weapon whenever they aren't in the mood to do something. There's no wishy washy in it. There's no guilt in using it. If they don't want to do something or if they don't want something, that no is made known quite clearly.
While that no from a two year old can cause us some frustration, we parents can learn from those very same children's use of the word.
I am of the mind that we need to serve others. We need to volunteer and help people who need help.
When the kids were little, before soccer and school activities took over, we had a whole lot of down time. Bryan and I were finally meeting people at church and getting more involved with activities there. I would see shout outs for needs in Sunday's bulletin, and I'd happily respond with a, "Sure! I can do that!" As we got to know more people, people started personally asking us to do certain things. "Can you take the photos for the anniversary directory?" Sure!
I had plenty of time to fill, I liked having the interaction, and I was helping people, just like I should. Plus, I had a small photography business, mainly because people had asked me to take photos of their kids. (When you have a lawyer for a husband, things have to be done "properly".) I was happy to be doing it.
Until it got to the point where I was a stressed-out mama, dragging my kids hither and yon, putting layettes together, taking photos, making meals, counseling engaged couples, teaching VBC, and who knows how many other things. And to top it off, the photography business was getting bigger and requiring more time.
I would snap at the kids, because I HAD to get something done. I would tell my kids to give me 5 minutes to do this one thing and then I'd play, then 30 minutes later get annoyed when they reminded me that I never stopped to play. Guilt took hold, and it made me realize one very important thing.
Every time I said yes to a photography client or someone at church or school, I was saying no to my kids.
I am a stay-at-home mom for a reason. That reason is not so I can be at everyone's beck and call, but so I can be present with my kids and be the best mom I can be.
I had to learn from my young kids that it is OK to say no. With no hesitation or guilt.
I took my name off of the email list for making dinners.
I got off the Birthline volunteer list that required me to go downtown to put layettes together.
I closed the photography business.
I took time off of everything to regroup and decide what I really wanted to do and what was actually feasible.
Were other people happy when they called and asked me to do something, and I replied with a resounding, "No"?
Was it the end of the world for any of us?
I still volunteer, but I am much choosier about what I agree to do.
As time goes on, and kids go to school and leave the house, there will be plenty of time to volunteer more and do other things that I want to do.
For now, I'm a mom. With kids who need direction, help, and guidance. And fun. There has to be fun. I have to say no to others, so I can say yes to them.
So, if you find yourself over-committed and frustrated, learn a lesson from a two year old.
But take heed, that no will be received much better if you are not rolling around on the floor screaming it over and over again.
How are you at telling people no? Is it something you had to learn the hard way? Tell me all about it.
Have a lovely day!