By Jennifer Pate and Barbara Machen,
Author of The Mothers of Reinvention: Reclaim Your Identity, Unleash Your Potential, Love Your Life
You can’t be everything to everybody. It just isn’t possible. All you’re doing by keeping yourself hyper-busy, whether that means over-thinking or overdoing, is keeping yourself away from spending time figuring out you. Reinvention requires you to set up boundaries and embrace the power of saying no. Saying no doesn’t make you a bad person or mean that you’re incompetent. It gives you the space you desperately need for your reinvention.
You need to let go of having such unrealistic expectations. Of course there isn’t going to be any time left for you if you’re busy saying yes to everything. Think about it. Of all the things you do in a day, which ones could you actually not do? Make a list and start deciding what not to do. You can’t uncover a void in your life if you have no time to reflect and dig deep.
Sit back and think about all the things you did today and all the things you could have avoided doing simply by saying NO. Think about how much time you spent on these tasks. Take out paper and pen and write it out. Add it up. Don’t think you have time to do something for yourself? Now you see that you do.
More than that, it’s also okay to ask for help when you need it. Ask your mother-in-law or your mother. Hire a sitter or ask a friend for help. Needing help doesn’t mean you’re an incompetent mom. You’d be surprised how great people feel helping you. And think of it this way. If you ask another mom for help, you’re giving her and others and invitation to ask for help, too. Everybody wins. If, however, she says No, honor that and move on!!!
Your time may be limited now that you’re a mom, but you’re a better multi-tasker. Look at all you do in a day. Your job as a mother requires the essentials: managing people; scheduling; handling finances (which a lot of women do); cooking; time management; organization; planning; and being the nurse, educator and personal shopper. What other job encompasses so many skill set s and calls for managing them all at the same time? As a mom, you never know what you’re dealing with on any given day. Each day throws new curve balls at you, and every day, somehow you get by. Take the pressure off yourself and don’t add other pressure. Remember, You can’t get to a better pace if you’re too busy trying to be perfect and trying to live up to unrealistic expectations.
I, Jen, used to say yes to everything and everything around my kid’s school Yes, I’ll sit on this committee, yes I’ll drive the field trip, yes I’ll throw a community building party at my house, yes I’ll be the head of the PTA. I am so glad I did all these things, but at the time I was a stay-at-home Mom. I had the time and energy. As the last four years have shifted and I am now a working mom, I have learned to say no. No, I cannot throw that party, no I cannot sit on that committee. I am not going to lie and say that I don’t feel guilty, but I have a real understanding of my time and limitations. At this juncture for me, any extra time I have has to go into spending it with my husband and kids. I have even learned to say no to social plans. No, I can’t go to dinner with you. I want to stay home with my kids.
There is something truly freeing about the art of saying no. It does not mean say no to everything. It does not mean you have a “get out of jail free card”. It just means that you are honoring you and finding the wiggle room you need to reclaim you.
Five things you can say no to:
- Volunteering at your kid’s school each and every time you are asked
- Chatting on the phone to a friend during the day
- Making a home made meal EVERY night
- Cleaning up after your kids (age dependent, but make them clean up!)
- Wasting time online or watching TV.
Say yes to YOU! You deserve a little piece of the pie just for you. This doesn’t mean you are selfish or that you should give to others, but just by giving yourself a little time, you will have a lot more to give to everyone.
© 2011 Jennifer Pate and Barbara Machen, author of The Mothers of Reinvention: Reclaim Your Identity, Unleash Your Potential, Love Your Life
Jennifer Pate, co-author of The Mothers of Reinvention: Reclaim Your Identity, Unleash Your Potential, Love Your Life, is the mother of two, Cooper and Lilah, and lives in Los Angeles with her husband Jonas. After retiring from a professional dance career that spanned ten years, Jennifer became a casting director for TV and film, and co-founded Colloff, Fishman, and Britt Casting. She then went on to her most interesting and challenging career of all: becoming a stay-at-home mom. Currently, Jen is the co-creator and co-host of the award winning web series “Jen and Barb, Mom Life.”
Barbara Machen, co-author of The Mothers of Reinvention: Reclaim Your Identity, Unleash Your Potential, Love Your Life, is the mother of twins, India and Soraya, and lives in Los Angeles with her husband of twelve years, Shahrad. Raised by a single mother on government assistance, Barb received a full scholarship to the University of Southern California, graduating with a BA in Communications. By age twenty-five, Barb owned her own marketing company, but after becoming a mother, she quickly learned how it felt to go from a confident woman to a scared and insecure mother. This led her to co-create and co host the award-winning web series “Jen and Barb, Mom Life.”
For more information please visit http://www.jenandbarb.