I have to admit, my first inclination is to say “no.” I realize that to some people, this may sound very surprising. My mother accuses me of spending WAY too much time doing “stuff” and that I should stop volunteering for things. I do spend a lot of time doing things for/with my church and I try to stay involved with my kids’ school activities, but in reality, my first thought is, “no.”
Actually, that’s not true, my first thought is, “how much is this going to mess me up?” As I mentally plan my day, I get fixed in what I want to do–especially with the kids. And having something appear as a spontaneous opportunity rattles me. And my first inclination is to say, “no.”
I’m especially hard with “yes” when it comes to the kids. It seems they always want something–help, toys, activities, sleepovers, playdates–ANYTHING at inopportune times. The thing is–they are only inopportune times to ME. Not to them. They are in their own world, full of their own needs and they don’t stop to think, “Hey, Baby needs to nap in 45 minutes and mom is trying to get the wash done while cleaning the kitchen. I think it would be a good time to ask if I can fingerpaint/have CC over/rearrange my room/build a fort/go to the library.”
And they look at me like I’m an alien from another planet when my eyes bulge out and I start screaming like a nut. How were THEY supposed to know what was going on in my mind? And, am I saying “no” because I have a valid reason or because it is my first instinct?
I did an experiment with the Girl a few weeks ago. The Boy was…somewhere…I don’t remember. And I decided to have a “Mommy-Girl” day like I used to when the kids were little. I asked the girl where she wanted to go and what she wanted to do. And I spent the majority of my time consciously saying yes to her.
And you know what–it was fabulous. She really didn’t ask for anything unreasonable. We went to the mall. We had a snack. I gave her $5 or $10 to buy whatever she wanted. I “suggested” we look around everywhere first, before spending the money. She did great. She got a couple of things from Justice (surprise) and some jewelry. It was great fun. We ate lunch. We even went back to some stores. And saying yes didn’t inconvenience me in the slightest.
How often do we say ‘no’ without even thinking? With our kids, our spouses, our bosses. Maybe we try to couch it in nicer terms like, “later”, “hold on”, “let me see”, or “you’re too little/old/” but what are we thinking on the inside.
I’m going to start making a conscious effort to think to myself, “is there any harm in not saying yes to this request?”
Now, remember, this is MY commandment. Maybe you are too much of a ‘yes’ person and need to come from a place of ‘no.’ Maybe you feel that people–friends, family and coworkers are taking advantage of you and you are spreading yourself too thin. Think before you respond–consider how the answer will make you feel at the end of the day.