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Monday, February 15, 2010

Today I Said, "No"

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?



Little Miss Moi said...

Good on you. A healthy respect for the word no is the key to happiness.

MegsyJ said...

Well done! I am a bit like you, and I also tend to feel that everything has to be done *right now*. Now I'm getting used to the fact that, when you have kids, you can't always have things done as quickly. Getting there.

Liz.. said...

I can totally relate. I hate feeling like i have let someone down by saying no. But sometimes it has to be done!

Thea Smith said...

Good for you! It is so hard to say no, for me too!
But I'm a big fan of not doing too much. :)

SquiggleMum said...

I'll admit I'm terrible at saying no. I volunteer a lot, in a lot of different places! I try to remember though that every time I say YES, I'm really only saying NO to something else in my life...

Sarah P said...

I'm working towards being better at saying no. I relate to this post so well. My children have taught me alot about the value of saying no though.

april said...

Well done you. I am shocking at saying 'no' so much so I brought myself a necklace with it embossed on it as a reminder and as something to pint to when I just don't want to say it (have i worn it yet - no) but well done you, saying no. Much better to have time and take time than make life overly full..

Michelle said...

Yay for you Jodie. It is so easy to go with the flow and keep saying yes - but at times we must be wise and say ... no

Girlzed said...

Champion. No is a very empowering word. Use it wisely but with purpose. PS Love your blog x

teddybear21 said...

oh yes i have been a yes person most of my life and only this past 2 years have finally realized that it is ok to just say NO!!!! it has taken me 36yrs to realize this but better late than never and my family is happier too that i now say no and not push myself to please someone else who does not really appreciate it!! it does feel so good to be able to say NO and good on u for doing it too! your family and yourself are no 1 and u deserve to be happy!! loved reading your blog!! x

LizK_is said...

You sound like me - I started with the fundraising committee and ended up as President of the kinder. I learnt that year not to put my hand up and to say no. While I was still with my husband, he was never home so trying to do all those things at night meant finding a babysitter for my daughter. With no family closer than 550kms it meant it either cost money or was possibly going to be presuming on a friendship. I'm still really bad at saying no but at school I just fly under the radar (hopefully I can continue to but different school now... might not manage it)

Kylie said...

Good for you.. I think most women, and particularly mums, are shocking at saying no. We *want* to please people, and we feel we should be good girls and do as we're asked. But after three years of being kinder secretary, then VP, followed by three years of School Board VP I'm ready to say no too. My term ends in March and I won't be renewing- I've put in, and now I'm going to pull out for a bit. Good for you for recognising you need to too.

Taryn said...

Great post Jodie. You take on so much work for the school as well as run a household. If you do too much you are going to have a freakin nervous breakdown. Good on you for saying NO. I am sure I would have done the same in your circumstance. xxxx

Lisa Porter - School Fundraising said...

That would be the spirit because your health would be the asset of your family. You might end up collapsing your way there if you would say yes again. I'm so proud of you.