Sun 16 Sep 2018
Whether it’s to your children, a work colleague or fellow parent, saying No can be very difficult and often makes your mum guilt rear its ugly head. You might feel like you’re letting them down or they’ll think less of you. But not saying No can have consequences and is often one of the reasons that parents end up feeling overwhelmed.
Think about your answer
The majority of requests you receive don’t need an answer straight away, so don’t jump in with an instant Yes. Even pausing for a minute or so allows you time to process the question in your head. Weigh up the pros and cons of what you are being asked, and what might happen if you did say Yes. Are you too tired to say Yes to yet another playdate, or does your child really need another toy?
Even though it may be the easy answer to say Yes in the moment, you may regret it later on. It can be helpful to think about what you would be sacrificing to fulfil a request. If you’d much rather be having a bath than feeding your neighbour’s cat, then say No!
When you are ready to give your answer, be firm and get to the point. If you start umm-ing and aah-ing, you’re more likely to change your mind and say Yes (especially when there are sad-puppy-eyes involved)
Don’t be a people pleaser
You can’t please everyone all of the time, and if you try to do this you’ll end up exhausted and put upon! Whilst you may worry about the reaction of the other person to you saying No, it’s often not as bad as you imagine it to be. It always helps to be able to justify your No and most people will be understanding. When you do have a spare moment, or during your ‘request processing’ time, think about why it is important to you to want to please that particular person? It’s often the case that others will respect you more for saying No when you have a legitimate reason.
Offer an alternative
Along with providing a justification, offering an alternative can also work really well. Perhaps you are saying No to looking after your nieces and nephews tomorrow, but you could have them next week instead?
Suggesting a compromise can also be beneficial all round. For example, saying Yes to a project at work but to a deadline that you set. That way, your boss gets the work completed but you’re not having to work all hours to get it done.
When giving an alternative or compromise, try to understand what the other person is trying to get out of the situation and adjust your response towards this. So if your child is demanding chocolate, suggest that they could have some later on after their lunch and if they’re hungry now, they could have some fruit? I freely admit that this approach works much better with adults than children!
Mum guilt will always exist but there are some ways to help minimise it. Confidently saying No and sticking to your decision is one way to do this!