By Rebecca Yarros
“Sure, I have time to take that on,” I say. Oh, I’m such a liar. How often as women do we say that? There’s always something that needs to be done: a committee needs chairing, a new project at work, cupcakes made for school. One little thing may not matter, but little things add up. That’s how I ended up co-leading the wives group of our army unit, keeping up with four boys in hockey, fundraising for Boy Scouts, fostering our new little girl, slamming out edits to my debut novel, FULL MEASURES, and still saying yes to every little thing… all while my husband was deployed to Afghanistan. It was utter and complete madness, like one of those plate-spinners you see, jumping back and forth to keep the plates in the air. Do you have that picture? Now hold it for a year. This is my fatal flaw, my inability to say no. Well, I’m learning to say it. No. Let’s say that again. No. No. NO.
I always think there’s enough time to get it all done, and I’m certain there would be, if I could just stop sleeping, or maybe buy a clone? Truth is, every obligation we take on eats up our most precious resource, our time. Sure, I want to do all these things. I want to organize the perfect party for the wives group. I want to be the awesome mother in all our gluten-free insanity, and I want to be a credit to my agent and publishing house. I want to run every 5K, bake an awesome turkey, and wear pearls when my husband comes home at night like I’m staring in a 50’s sitcom. I want to be perfect. One thing I’ve learned through the insanity? Perfection is overrated. Balance is key. The less things I say “yes” to, the better I can do those things. When I take on too many obligations, spin too many plates, they all start to drop. I go from completely owning my life to watching it spin out of control.
There is nothing wrong with saying, “no.” It means we have respect for our families, ourselves, and our time. Saying “no,” means we can say “yes,” to something else that may be more important. Saying “no,” isn’t selfish, it’s prioritizing, which is something we have to do to lead balanced lives.
I’m not saying that we should turn down grocery shopping, or baking for the class party, or implying that we have to say no every time we’re asked to help. There are certain people in my life I will always say yes to – my husband, my agent, my publisher, and always my kids. But if something else needs my time? I’m learning that I have to stop “making” the time, and instead logically see if the time is actually there to be given. I’m only human. I cannot create more time. I cannot get everything done like a Stepford wife, and still maintain my sanity. Truthfully? I feel like a better woman when I’m able to say no, able to respect the limitations I know I have.
I’ve started asking myself these questions before I say, “Yes.”
- Is it your husband, your publisher, your agent, or most importantly – your kids?
- Do you have the time?
- What will you give up to do this? Can you let that other piece go?
- Are you the only person who can fulfil this duty?
- Will you waste more time feeling guilty than the time it would take you to do it?
The “guilt” question may get some people, but I’m human, and therefore susceptible to guilt. Especially from my mother. Now, if I answer all five of these questions “no,” then my response needs to be “no.”
I’m learning with age, that balance is the most important element in my life. When I have it, everything spins perfectly, and when I don’t… the plates start dropping. I’m not a fan of cleaning up the plates when they shatter on the floor. I’d rather say no, and admire the few pretty plates as they spin. And with an army aviator husband, and five kiddos at home? There’s always a plate to spin.
I implore you, choose your plates wisely.
Connect with Rebecca Yarros
About Rebecca Yarros:
Rebecca Yarros is the author of FULL MEASURES, a hopeless romantic, and lover of all things chocolate, coffee, and Paleo. Her blog, The Only Girl Among Boys, has been voted the Top Military Mom Blog the last two years, and celebrates the complex issues surrounding the military life she adores. She is madly in love with her army-aviator husband of eleven years, and they’re currently stationed in Upstate NY with their gaggle of rambunctious kiddos and snoring English Bulldog, but she would always rather be home in Colorado.
Make sure you check out Rebecca’s debut novel, Full Measures.
Purchase Full Measures