It’s taken me a long time, and a lot of years, to realize that I had the power to say “no.” A few years ago I had a goal of saying “yes” to everything I was asked to participate in for two weeks or something like that. But that was pre-kids, pre-marriage, etc. Life was much more… flexible. I felt an urge to get out and get involved. And to, well, people please, to put it frankly.

So what’s changed, besides the obvious? Well, having a family means we are pretty much ‘automatically’ signed up for a bunch of things. Sure, we want to do these things; but it also leaves me craving time where I’m not doing a darn thing! We are just plain ol’ burned out from life.

Enter: the great NO challenge.

It’s not that I’m giving myself a timeframe to say no to everything I’m asked to socially commit to; but I’m giving myself permission to say “no” as needed — without an excuse.

“No” really shouldn’t need an excuse. Sometimes, just, no.

I love all of my friends, I truly do. I love seeing them and hanging out. But when life is super busy, sometimes the healthiest thing you can do for yourself is to schedule time to be “busy doing nothing” in your planner. I’ve done this before and it’s helped tremendously. I’ll black out a weekend on the calendar and tell Chad that we’re “busy doing nothing” all weekend so we can’t make plans.

Do you feel like you could say “no” if you truly just don’t want to engage in something? I suggest looking at it differently: Know your priorities and the value of your time. When a friend or relative asks something of us, we have to decide where our time is best suited.

It’s taken me a while to know where my time is valuable. For me, it’s with my husband and son. Or heck, even by myself! It’s hard to juggle time with young kids in the home; but knowing when you need a few minutes to yourself can be life-saving to you and your relationships.

For example, this co-sleeping thing has had me at my wits end at times. I feel like Moosh is constantly attached to me. One night, after 3.5 hours trying to get him to sleep, he just wouldn’t. I was tied to him. The next day I had one request: I asked Chad if he would handle bedtime solo so I could have a few minutes alone, even if it was just to check my email/blog/twitter and watch one episode of trashy TV from the DVR. I’m so grateful that I asked him for help. I like to pretend I’m super mom and can do it all, but sometimes we need to just step back and ask. And because of this two hours I had, I ended up feeling refreshed and rejuvenated!

Seriously. Because sometimes the act of saying “no” is truly empowering you to say “yes” in other aspects of your life.

So by all means, this holiday season or this New Year, feel empowered to say NO when you need it — sans guilt!

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