Friday, September 2, 2011

Learning to Say No... to Yourself!

One thing I learned long ago - although I'm still not a master at it - is saying "no". I'm a people pleaser by nature so I'm generally the first to volunteer for something only to find myself overwhelmed later on. Even if I'm not volunteering, it seems like someone is always asking if I can help with this or that. In the past, my answer was always "sure, no problem!".

After having children, though, I realized that saying no to requests that are outside my time constraints is not a bad thing. My family, after all, was my first priority. It was difficult at first but I quickly realized that there weren't too many people that were irritated by my saying no. It seems I wasn't, despite my thinking, the only person that could do the job! So, lesson number one - you don't have to do everything; it's OK to say no. People will understand; really they will!

Lesson number wo came along within another year or two. Maybe I should rephrase that...another child or two later. While I was busy saying no to those activities and events that I just couldn't fit into our busy schedule, I had still managed to fill up all that time with doing things for other people - my husband, my kids, my parents, etc. What I learned then was that it's OK to say no to them, too.

We moms take on a lot of work, and I do mean A LOT! The trouble is, what we end up doing is running ourselves to the ragged edge. We skip meals; we stay up late working on the costume for the school play; we still are trying to do it all. Is it any wonder that, when you ask a mom what she likes to do in her spare time, she usually replies, "What spare time?" What we really need is to just take a break now and then. Determine to take some time to do something you enjoy. It can be 15 minutes or an hour or even more. Set a timer and sit down with a magazine or book you've been meaning to read. Let the laundry sit for an hour and go take a bath. Better yet, if you can, escape the house and go somewhere you love - the bookstore, the mall (you don't have to buy anything), the local coffee shop. Trust me, the small amount of time you take for yourself will energize you more than you can imagine. Your mind will be clearer and you'll feel ready to tackle what comes your way.

Lesson three is something I learned just a couple of years ago when I was experiencing a terrible cold.  Saying no to myself. When we're sick, it's like self-imposed down time. As a mom, though, it's hard to accept that. I knew I was sick. My head felt like a giant beach ball, I was exhausted just getting up to shuffle to the bathroom, and I just felt yucky. The first few days, I tried to continue on my normal schedule of things to do. By day three, though, I was spent. So, when work and blogging called, I had to take a hard look at what was most important. Would the world spin off its axis if I didn't check email that day? Most likely no. Would someone not be able to name their child if I didn't blog about baby names. Unlikely. Instead, I burrowed under the covers and slept. I conserved the energy I had for letting my body do what it needed to do and for only the essential tasks. Dinner still got made but the kitchen wasn't as tidy as I would have liked it. The children all had clean socks to wear but, boy, did I have a lot of laundry to do when I felt better. And, guess what, the earth is still spinning nicely despite it all.

The point is, a lot of us do and do and do for others. When you're pregnant, it's important to know your limitations. What used to be a piece of cake for you to do, now may seem like a monumental task. Remember that it's OK to tell someone you can't take on more. Trust me, they'll most likely understand.

It's also OK to take time for yourself. This pregnancy will only last nine months so enjoy it while you can. Get a pedicure. Window shop for a great piece of clothing for after you have the baby. Sit in a coffe shop and read a good book. Whatever you do, though, make it something that is just for you!

Lastly, know when you need to say no to yourself. You don't have to accomplish EVERYTHING on your To Do list today. Go with the essentials first and, after that, if you still have the steam, then you can begin adding more to your schedule.

And, finally, above all, live mindfully and take care of YOU!

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