“No” is supposed to be such a simple answer, but often it is a complex word. It is a word I struggle with on a daily basis. Because I have three kids, it is also a word I have to say a lot. Not only do I have to say it to my kids, but in order to preserve family time, I must say it to others.
We live in an active suburban area with more options than people can wrap their minds around. Between girl scouts, boy scouts, dance, sports, theater, art and church activities, our days could be full from morning to night. Those options are just for our kids and do not include the constant call for service, work responsibilities, community and church participation.
With so many positive things to get involved in and so many needs, I often find it difficult to say no. I thrive when there is a need and feel immense purpose when I can fulfill a need. I am finding that too many good things can result in negative impacts on my health and attitude with my kids. The more I have distracting my mind, the easier it is for me to be irritated when my kids behave like typical kids. I have lost sleep trying to get all the things done, and I have skipped workouts to attend to the numerous things we sign up for. Sometimes it is easy to ignore the need around me because my mind is too full and my time is limited.
I recently lost my grandfather and after listening to all the things he said “yes” to in life it helps change some perspective. It is becoming easier to release any guilt when I must tell someone no and draw boundaries to activities or things that only bring stress to our lives.
My grandparents often said “yes” to helping others in need. At his funeral, people reported story after story of how my grandparents helped others in need, not letting age or financial status affect them. I knew them as living very frugal non-luxurious lives. They did not occupy themselves with their home’s outdated style, their simple clothes or achieving career success.
They bought appliances for people that could not afford to replace a broken fridge, oven or microwave. They anonymously bought a baby grand piano for a local growing church. They ensured that families who lost their homes had needed basic supplies. They paid for my college and they bought the land my parents have built their home on. In addition, they spent years raising funds and donating thousands of their own funds to build a home for adults with disabilities where my uncle now lives and thrives.
Because my grandparents said no to so personal luxuries and many of the things that can distract us, they were able to say yes to so many important things.
Say no to something so you can say yes to something else.
Writer Bio: Summer Bolte
I spend most of my time and days with my three kids, husband and dog. My kids frequently play near me as I garden, cook, DIY and volunteer. My most unusual paying job has to be feeding fruit flies in a research lab, and my most fulfilling job was being an oncology nurse for seven years.