If you’re like me, most days you feel like you’re being pulled in ten different directions. I am constantly having to decide what to do and when (which is why I love my planner). There are so many things that need my attention! From household chores, to work, to family time, to maintaining this blog…there just aren’t enough hours in the day to do it all. That’s why it’s really important if this is what your life feels like, that you guard your family time.
Guard your family time with one magic word.
In my house, family time is number one. If I don’t make a conscious effort to protect it, it could easily be consumed by everything else. That’s why I guard it, by saying no.
In addition to all of the tasks and responsibilities I normally have, other stuff comes up on a regular basis. Whether it be volunteering at Zach’s school or helping a friend with a big project, there are tons of times I’m asked to do something that I actually would like to do. But I have to say no.
It doesn’t make us selfish or bad people to say no. Our time is precious, and we shouldn’t feel guilty for using it in the way that best aligns with our family values and mission. Each one of us can live our best life, but only if we’re willing to say no sometimes.
Sometimes you need to say no to things you really want to do.
In addition to saying no to things you wouldn’t mind doing, sometimes you have to catch yourself before you say yes to something you want to do. Consider how saying yes will impact your life, your happiness, and your family time.
If family time is critically important to you and saying yes would hinder that, then you need to guard your family time and say no.
Recently, Zach’s school started a PTO. It’s a private, Montessori school so a lot of the normal things that public schools do, like PTO, haven’t been started there. This year is the first year of it, and I was so interested in joining when I heard about it.
Zach’s school relies heavily on parent and teacher involvement. Everyone pitches in for fundraisers, maintaining the building and property, and even deep cleaning a few times a year. The goal is to make it as self-sufficient as possible and keep tuition costs low.
Knowing the impact parents can have at his school, I of course want to be involved. But at the new school year orientation this Fall, as I sat listening about it, something didn’t sit right. I still signed up for more information, but I already had a feeling that I wouldn’t be joining.
The meetings, as it turns out, are when I am working. I could probably rearrange my work schedule a bit to be able to participate, but that would mean throwing off the schedule I have with my family as well. I already work four 10 hour days with two hours of commute and have no family time on those four days. I’m not willing to give up more to participate in the PTO, no matter how much I’d like to.
Find alternatives when you have to say no.
In the case of the PTO, it’s something I really wanted to do. I also feel a little guilty for having to say no. But not because I feel like I let them down to guard my family time. I never feel guilt over that. It doesn’t matter if it’s important to someone else, it has to be important to me if I’m going to say yes.
Instead, I feel guilty because it is something I did really want to do. So as an alternative, I’m just going to find extra, smaller ways I can help out this year. It will likely not be with time, because that is just not something I’m willing to give up.
But I can offer financial help in small ways. I can also donate services where the action doesn’t remove my family time. I’m perfectly happy to bake cupcakes for a bake sale, because i can still do that at home with my family as a family activity.
Follow your values and priorities to live the life you want and happiness will follow
There is absolutely nothing wrong with saying no. You do not have to say yes because someone asks, because you feel guilty for saying no, or because of any other reason. You don’t even have to justify it.
If you don’t want to participate in the bake sale, don’t. If you don’t want to hassle family members to buy junk for a fundraiser, don’t. There are always alternative ways to be of service and help others in ways that fit your life, rather than having to fit your life around everyone else’ demands and expectations. Just ask.
The world is filled with people who are unhappily not living their best lives. Part of the reason so many people are doing that is because they feel like they have to do it all. You don’t. You don’t have to do any of it.
Make decisions because you want to make them, not because you feel like you have to. Always follow your values and priorities to live the life you want and happiness will follow.