by Angie McFarren
This last installment of the Four Tools Every Homeschool Mom Needs may be the toughest of them all.
Essential Tool #4 – The Ability to Say, “No, Thank You.”
The words, “Ask her. She stays home all day” were just said. The hair on the back of her neck begins to stiffen. Her muscles tighten. She mumbles through gritted teeth, “They better not be talking about me.” She thinks to herself, “They disagree with homeschooling but want me to do the work for them.” Where is that “No Thank You” Chinese Folding Fan?
You may wonder what a No Thank You Chinese Folding Fan is. It is one of those pretty fans, which has the words, “No Thank You” written across it in pretty lettering. Of course, this is something I made up. But it would be handy to unfold that fan when someone begins asking you to do something. It would be a distraction for the person and she just might forget what she wanted to ask you.
Why is it so difficult to say no to others? Could it be guilt or the need to feel dependable or needed? If it is guilt, you need the Guilt Remover I wrote about in my previous post!
Your typical week is full of activities and home responsibilities. There is homeschooling, sport practices, dance lessons, music lessons, Bible study, co-op, at least one library visit, laundry, cleaning, meal preparing, banking, grocery shopping, and completing miscellaneous errands. Some weeks there are doctor appointments, haircuts, and other types of appointments. People wonder why you are grumpy at times. They have no idea what it is like to juggle a schedule, maintain a home, homeschool, and be a loving wife, mother, friend, and so forth.
Imagine this scenario:
It is Sunday afternoon, and you are reflecting on your previous week.
Monday went okay. You completed the shopping, banking, and errands. You even completed some lesson plans. Yet, that evening is when it all began. The president of the Ladies Fellowship called. She asked if you would bake three pies for Sunday’s church social. You agreed even though Saturday was the day you intended to clean your house. Oh, well. What is another week anyway?
Tuesday you were able to catch up on the laundry. You took your son to ball practice and your daughter to dance class in the late afternoon. There was that incident where you left your daughter waiting for 20 minutes until you could pick her up. She had a meltdown over that one. Mental note: arrange for carpooling.
After supper, Mary from co-op called. The art teacher could not make it for Friday’s co-op. Mary said, “You are so good at teaching art. I told the teacher you will fill in for her.” Sigh.
Wednesday was the day for music lessons and a trip to the library. It was a bit hectic trying to fit those in and attend Bible study on time. Oh my, just thinking about what occurred at Bible study makes you tense. Margaret came up to you before class began. She said, “Hello Dear. Did you hear Susan has stepped down from her position as the Children’s Ministry Coordinator? I met with the Nurture Committee last evening. Because of how well you love the children here, we decided you would be the new Coordinator. The materials you need are in the office.” Margaret walks away and leaves you wondering what just happened. Since Margaret is such a lovely person, you cannot let her down.
Then there was Thursday. Your husband came home from work and said, “I invited Bob and Mark to bring their wives over for supper tomorrow night. I know how you like to entertain and knew you would not mind me inviting them. They will be here at 6:00.”
There was not enough food to feed everyone. That required an extra trip to the grocery store. You muttered and fussed as you drove there and back. Oh well, you needed extra ingredients for the pies anyway.
Friday was a busy day. You were up early in the morning to clean the house. You also did some laundry before you went to co-op. Teaching the art class went okay, however it could have been better. Later in the afternoon, you completed the laundry and prepared supper for your family and guests.
Friday evening was going well until… Your son came to inform you the coach arranged for an unexpected ball game for tomorrow morning. You son also said, “Oh and um, you have to work in the concession’s stand.” You wanted to scream and cry! Realizing you had company, you had to control yourself.
You spent Saturday baking pies and working in the concession stand at the ball game. Late in the evening, you realized you had not prepared anything for your new position as the Children’s Ministry Coordinator. What were you supposed to do anyway? It took a couple of hours to determine what your role will be and to do to some organizing.
Now it is Sunday. Today has been exhausting with church, the social, and so forth. You have to admit you were a bit grumpy. You also wonder how you could have handled this past week differently.
Has anything like this happened to you? It is overwhelming when we do not have the ability to say no. The next time someone asks or tells you what to do get out your No Thank You Chinese Folding Fan. Well, at least the mental image will be a nice reminder for you to say no.
Seriously, we do need to guard ourselves from over commitments. Here are a few suggestions before you become involved in something new.
- Pray first. Now, be aware God may tell you to say yes. I recently had that happened to me. Let us just say God won. With His help, Tylenol, and Starbuck’s coffee, I know I can handle the upcoming project. Thank goodness, it does not start until spring.
- Discuss it with your husband. Is he willing to help and especially not volunteer you for anything?
- Determine if it will be beneficial to all the family members.
- Do not take on a new project if you cannot finish it or give it your best.
- Is there something you should release to someone else if you take on this new activity?
- Delegate what you can.
- Limit the number of sports or activities your children participate in at one time.
- Instruct your children not to volunteer for anything without talking with you first. My daughter has trouble with this one.
- Arrange for carpooling when possible.
- Be willing to ask for help.