Today, for the first time in a long time, I said “no.” And I'm quite proud of myself.
For the most part, I’m a “yes” girl. I say “yes” to most things, because I’m afraid of offending. I’m afraid I won’t get asked again, and I don’t like to let people down. And so I say “yes” - far more often than I should.
Last year, I joined the school’s fundraising committee after spending the first couple of years of my 7yr old’s school years not being able to put my hand up for much, because of the 3yr old and 6yr old at home. To be honest, when I was asked if I wanted to join the committee, I did so mostly because friends were asking and I like them, and I like spending time with them. But to be honest, my original plan did not include working on the school fundraising committee. I kind of thought about being a Class Parent or helping out in the school Library (because I LOVE books and it’s, you know, quiet in there).
But I found myself on this committee. Then, not long after I put my hand up for that, I was approached by the school’s P&F Secretary to possibly take on her role on the school’s P&F for 2009. I told her I’d think about it. To be honest, I had always planned to get involved on the P&F (it’s more my kinda thing), but I wasn’t sure I was ready. Yes, my 6yr old was due to start school the following year, and I would have the 3yr old in daycare 2 days a week, but I had planned on spending another year getting to know how the P&F really worked before trying for a role on it, not to mention finding my feet at home after being so flat out with everything for so long. (Two days on my own was a real relief after so long.)
But I said “yes” in the end. Because I really wanted to do it, and because Hubby also thought it would be good for me to do. And because I was asked.
But then I found myself on two committees.
During the course of the year, apart from my roles, I took on “little extras”. I said “yes” to writing an article for the fundraiser’s magazine about the parent sponsors for the school fundraiser. I conducted an email interview with all of them, and wrote it from there.
I said “yes” to putting together a sort of min-manual to explain the school’s “intranet” (a website for the use of school parents and students), and show parents how to access it and use it.
I said “yes” to attending extra school meetings relating to boys education, taking notes, typing minutes etc.
Now, some people can juggle lots and lots of things. They can spread themselves thin and thrive on it. I know a number of parents who do this. Last year taught me something: I can’t.
Don’t get me wrong: I like to keep busy, but if I overload I start to stress out. I walk around anxious, and it shows. I’m short with the kids. I’m short with Hubby. And really, why do something for your child’s school if you can’t be there for them? Either physically or emotionally?
I should have dropped the fundraising committee role when I took on the P&F role. But I didn’t. I didn’t want to let anyone down. And by the end of last year, I was stressed. I was juggling writing in the school newsletter and acting as editor for the P&F pages, which swelled every week the closer we got to our annual fundraising event. I continued the normal role of the Secretary as well. All of which took time.
I wasn’t the only one. Everyone was stretched thin. Our school’s fundraiser is a major one. It makes a lot of money for the school. But it’s also a lot of work for a lot of people. Not just me. So people would call/email me and ask if they could send their contributions in for the newsletter later than the Monday night cut off for Wednesday’s newsletter. And I said “yes”. And then I’d find myself sitting at the computer on Wednesday mornings before school, the P&F pages due in at 8am, madly trying to add in the extra pages, format it and send it off, whilst trying to get my big boys to school on time and deal with my toddler’s antics.
It was tough. By the end of last year, I was burnt out with it all. Over it. I so needed the break. And I vowed this year, I wouldn’t do the same.
Firstly, I started by not renewing my position on the fundraising committee, even though many others take on their roles for 3 or more years. I stayed with the P&F, but I took on a VP role instead. I can do the newsletter, but I don’t have to worry about taking minutes, typing them out, enquiries and typing agendas, etc.
I also sent an email last week to all the P&F committee members and the Class Parents letting them know that the Monday night cut-off for the P&F pages of the school newsletter is for real. I explained that I didn’t want to get myself in to the same position last year of doing it all last minute.
And then this morning, a fundraising committee member who worked on publicity and coordinated the fundraising magazine approached me about taking on the role of coordinating the magazine. This time, I said, “no”. And I’m proud of myself. Even though I know I would love doing it, I just can’t. Not this year. When the 3yr old goes to school in 2012, I’ll be in. I’ll have more time and I’ll be hands on. But right now, I need to think of my boundaries. What I am, and what I am not capable of.
And I’ll be happier for it.
What about you? Do you take on too much sometimes? How does it make you feel?