Once again we’re going to talk about boundaries. Most people who are overworked and overstressed are just simply doing too much. If you were raised like I was to mind your manners, be helpful, be a good boy/girl and let the others go first it can take decades to unlearn these habits. (Not to discount the value of being nice to your fellow humans and love for the world because we all need more of that). There are any number of people who will eventually want a little piece of your time as life goes on. If you have the time to give, more power to you. If you don’t and many times say you do, it’s past time to learn to say no.

Let’s say your son’s teacher once again asks you to chair the annual holiday can drive. You have done it for the last two years and know that even if you have a committee you will be doing all the work. You just don’t have the time to do it this year, but don’t know how to get out of it. Just say no!!! I would love to help, but I can’t chair the committee this year as I have other commitments, Period. End of discussion. Don’t launch into a long dialogue of the reasons you can’t or start to give excuses. This is volunteer work and no you don’t have to do it. If the teacher pressures you or other parents with but you have always done the can drive or the ever popular but you are so good at it, we can’t do it without you just keep repeating your mantra I’m not available this year, I’m not available this year, as many times as it takes to get your message across. Be firm and don’t waffle. You will be so proud of yourself later when some other parent is doing the last minute run around for the can drive and you are at home sipping hot cocoa and enjoying making cookies with your kids. This is in no way being selfish it is a way to start putting your own needs as priorities in your life. This same scenario can be used for the church fundraiser, fall carnival, the committee to better the neighborhood, the sister-in-law who wants you to watch the kids (again), and so on.

An extra note – where you decide to spend your money is another boundary you can work on using the same principles. At least once per month I am bombarded by parents selling trivets, cookie dough, trinkets, or other overpriced things you don’t need for their child’s fund raiser. If you are one of these folks that bring flyers to work and sell for your kids, yes you probably should buy from the others; it’s only fair. I don’t take these to my workplace and don’t hit up friends to buy from my son. (If he wants to sell, I go with him thru the neighborhood and let him sell). In any case, it’s ok to just say No, thank you. Or you can say No thanks, we have our own charities that we donate to. You should probably practice saying no, thank you as you will be using it more and more in the future.

Last year during the holidays I opted out of the many gift swaps by saying “We are simplifying and only exchanging gifts with immediate family this year. Worked great and I was not so stressed about money last year. Remember, all of these are suggestions for decreasing your stress. Take what works for you and leave the rest behind (or just say no???).

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Filed under: Stress ReductionTime Management

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