Saturday, March 3, 2007

Just Say No

Last fall, I did something absolutely scandalous. I turned down four party invitations even though we had no prior commitments. I know -- I'm a rebel.

One invitation was a four year old birthday party for dd's classmate that I couldn't pick out of a line up. Since four year olds tend to be oblivious, I figured no one would notice much less mind. Another was a Sunday afternoon holiday party for the four year old class. I don't know what the overeager class moms were thinking, but we had just spent the last four weekends with said class and their parents at five different birthday parties. As lovely as these people are, I was clean out of small talk and dd showed no interest in going. The last two were adult Halloween parties that happened to fall on the same night. Dreading having to don costumes, dh and I unanimously agreed to bag both events (dh: "I just can't imagine having a serious conversation with a grown man dressed as Batman."). I told both hosts, "So sorry, but we've been invited to another party at the same time!" Thankfully, I didn't have to lie!

Call me a party pooper, but I have no regrets. Turning down those invitations gave our family what we all covet most -- precious time. Time to get things done, time to chill out and best of all, time to be together. The night of the Halloween parties, dh and I took the opportunity to hire a babysitter and grab a casual dinner out. We enjoyed it so much more than we would have standing around our neighbor's house feeling ridiculous in our costumes and it gave us a chance to reconnect.

A version of no, "Not right now," is a similar stand I often take in my house to make life more manageable. Instead of jumping up the second someone asks for something, unless the need is dire, the response usually is, "Yes, but after I [fold the laundry, eat my dinner, send this email, etc...]" This is not revolutionary parenting advice, I realize, but I see so many of my friends drop whatever they're doing to immediately respond to their child's demands. I doubt they even realize they do it. "Not right now," not only makes my life suck less, but it teaches my children that the world doesn't always revolve around them. Sometimes, they may just have to wait to get what they need.

The point of this post is that we have so many non-optional obligations -- changing dirty diapers, school registrations, doctors appointments, soccer practices -- that we should protect our precious spare time as fiercely as possible. We should realize that not every invitation or ask is an obligation and that we do have the option to decline. Sometimes, just saying no means saying yes to something way more important -- your sanity.

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