Sunday, October 23, 2016

Parenting Tip - Can I say YES Now?

In my last post I talked about how I had learned to say NO, and how good it felt.  Now let's talk about saying YES, and how good that can feel.

The holidays are upon us.  First comes Halloween, closely followed by Thanksgiving, and then Christmas comes rushing in like a whirlwind with all its traditions, madness and overcrowded days.   Sometimes I feel like hiding until it's all over.  It's not that I don't love the holidays, it's just that I get caught up in the busyness of decorations, food, gifts, traditions and worldly expectations to have everything "perfect" and to do it all.  Pinterest, Instagram, and Facebook give a trillion cute, cute ideas to do and I want to do them all.

I've learned an important truth, though, and it has been my children that have taught it to me.  When they reminisce about holiday traditions, sometimes they'll mention things we use to do as a family when they were young that they remember us doing every year, like going to the mountains to cut our own Christmas tree.  But guess what?  We didn't do that every year.  In fact, we only did it 3-4 times.

What does this mean to you and me?  We can have cherished traditions, but we can space them out without losing their traditional feel.  Do you have a tradition of going to see the zoo lights every year?  It's expensive, so only go every 3 years.  Do you always make and decorate Christmas cookies but this year you are dreading it?  Skip it.  Do it next year.  Does your family love to do the 12 Days of Christmas for a secret family, but you're wondering if you have enough energy to pull it off this year?  Wait for another year or two to do it, so it will become fun and exciting again.

I don't have a lot of storage space in  my home, so I have limited my Christmas decorations to 4 large plastic tubs.  But, of course, more decorations have slowly been spreading out and gaining more momentum and filling up other shelves and closets.  Last year I didn't put up several decorations and didn't miss them.  This year I'm thinking of decluttering some of my decorations.  I inherited a gorgeous collection of tall, Victorian Santa Clauses that take up a lot of space to display.  Then I also have a collection of Nativity scenes.  So when both collections are brought out to display with all the other decorations, I literally start to feel claustrophobic.

I've had a stern talking to with myself and decided I'm really going to limit my decorations this year. I'm only going to put up my 3 most favorite Santas and only 3-5 of the Nativities.  When you have a small house like mine, you really should simplify.  So I'm going to.

Wait, I started out by saying I was going to talk about saying YES.  But it sounds like I'm saying NO to a lot of things such as decorations and traditions.  In actuality, I am saying to myself, "YES, you may have a simple, meaningful, spiritual, family holiday this year, and this is how you will do it.  You may choose 3 traditions you like the most (or you may start 1 new one) and you may choose your most loved decorations to put up.  You will say YES to empty unscheduled blocks of time during the days and weeks so that you may say YES to unexpected things that come up or to people that need your help. You will say YES to enjoying being with family and friends because you are not rushed and frenzied trying to do it all and be it all to everyone. feels so good to say YES!

Thanks for reading,


Sunday, October 16, 2016

Parenting Tip - It Feels so good to say NO!

During dinner several years ago, the phone rang and I answered it.  It was a teacher from my neighborhood school asking me if I could substitute for her tomorrow.  Arrgghhh, I had things planned for tomorrow, but how could I say no?  She wanted ME!  She wanted ME to solve her problem and teach her class because I was so creative and wonderful and ...and....and....But I had things to do tomorrow and really couldn't and didn't want to.  So, in agony of not being able to help her, I said no.  And in a flash I felt so much relief and happiness and realized a very important truth: she didn't want ME, she just wanted SOMEONE to help her solve  her dilemma--she didn't really care WHO it was.

I immediately burst into song and danced back to the dinner table singing at the top of my voice, "It feels so good to say NO and not feel guilty!"  My family starred at me and just continued eating.  But I kept singing my song again, and explained, "I finally get it.  People want someone to help them out of their problems, and if I say no, they'll just find someone else to help them.  They're not paying me a compliment because I'm the only one and the best one. I've been so prideful all these years, but realize the truth of the matter now."

And that's how I learned to say NO.

It's always been hard for me to stick up for myself.  I was a walk-all-over-her sort of person for many many years. I was taken advantage of because I was nice and didn't want to disappoint people or not help them. I considered myself a wimp.   But gradually I started noticing and admiring people who stood up for themselves, who set boundaries and limits and knew what they could do and were willing to do.  I wanted to be one of those kind of people.  Strong in their beliefs and actions.  Self-assured and self-confident.  And that meant saying NO when it was needed.

Recently I read an article that said when you say NO to something, then really you are saying YES to something else. And when you say YES to something, you are naturally saying NO to other things. So years ago when I was substituting and my children were still in school, if I said Yes to teaching, then some days that would mean I would be saying no to getting the laundry and shopping done and preparing a peaceful dinner.  Sometimes it was good to say yes, but other weeks I should have said no more often.

What are some other NO/YES outcomes?
NO to video/computer time - YES to creative, imaginative children
NO to snacking, candy - YES to healthy lifestyle (ouch, that one always gets me!)
NO to lax, inconsistent bedtime routine - YES to more peaceful evenings
NO to excessive fast food eating - YES to more money and healthier eating
NO to hours on blog/instagram/pinterest/facebook reading - YES to non-comparing yourself with others and feeling happier with your life
NO to judging others - YES to accepting others with different ideas
......and the list can go on and on.

One other idea on how to say NO that I wished I would have known years ago when I was a wishy washy wimp and that is, stall for a moment when someone asks you to do something that you don't want to or think it best not to do.  Say very nicely, "Let me check my calendar."  Then check that calendar and if you want to say NO, you sweetly say, "Oh I'm sorry, I have something scheduled for then."  They don't have to know that you don't have something officially written down.  Because remember the NO/YES consequences.  If you say no to them, you're saying yes to your children for being able to meet their needs that morning or yes to reading a book because you really need some downtime.  It sounds so more convincing to say, "Oh, I'm not available" than "Oh, I'm reading a good book and will lose it if I don't take some time for myself."

It sounds like I'm suggesting you say NO all the time.  I'm not.  I wrote this blog post for me, basically, because I need to say NO to myself more often than to other people.  I love to teach and love to babysit my grandchildren and love to do this and love to do that.  And I want to do it all.  But I have to remind myself that when I say, "YES, I think I'll teach more ukulele or music classes", I'm really saying, "NO, I won't have time to babysit my grandchildren when I'm needed."

Judge wisely when you say NO or YES and remember there will always be a YES or NO answering consequence.

Thanks for reading,




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