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Purposeful Parenting

Embracing When and How to Say No



Learning When and How to Say No | Chaos & Kiddos

The money question:

When you say yes to something you don’t want to do,

what are you saying no to that you do want to do?

This is the reality of embracing when and how to say no. As a working mom with a crazy ambitious professional drive, I spent a good portion of my marriage being a “yes man” to everyone but my family. As they say, hindsight is 20/20 and I realize now that I let my ego get the better of me and pridefully thought I could do it all and have it all. I felt pressure to say yes to every inquiry, even if I knew my heart wasn’t in it or it wasn’t a great fit. Every time I said yes to one more project, I said no to my children. No to my husband. Every time I committed time to something new, I was taking time from something else. Simply put, there are only so many hours in the day. Learning to embrace when and how to say no can help you identify projects that are a best fit for you AND your family, not you OR your family.

Learning When and How to Say No | Chaos & Kiddos

When should you say no?

1. Identify what you want to say YES to. Deliberately setting your intentions for your life gives you a frame of reference when a new project presents itself. Measure the new project against your standard of living and ask yourself if it adds to that vision or detracts from it. Will you need to sacrifice time and attention to those items you know you want to say yes to? If the answer is yes, and there is not an overwhelming reason why that sacrifice is worth it, then it’s time to say no.

2. Go with your gut. If a new project gives you a throat punch and anxiety instead of excitement and gratitude, it may be time to say no. Even when your brain is pushing you to say yes, your heart knows when you’re taking a misstep. Remember, saying yes to one thing means saying no to something else. There’s nothing gained by saying yes to something you heart just isn’t in and then find yourself forced to say no to something that really excited you.

3. Measure up with accountability. Create a set of credentials that each new project is stacked against. A short list of questions and requirements that you commit to sticking with each and every time a new project comes to the table. Share this list with an accountability partner if you don’t trust yourself to abide by it and let them encourage you to embrace when it’s time to take a pass.

Businesswoman performing a balancing act on tightrope against wh

How should you say no?

1. Clearly and with confidence. Many people end up saying yes to projects purely out of fear. Somehow, we’ve convinced ourselves that saying no is confrontational and argumentative. That’s simply not true! You don’t owe the entire planet a yes. If a new project hasn’t stacked up against your accountability credentials, your gut or your life intention, you say no! With clarity and confidence. You’re not doing anything wrong. Don’t tap dance!

2. Gratitude and humility go a long way. It’s easy to take it personally when someone asks you to do something you don’t want to do and you feel like they should know that they shouldn’t have asked you. You know what I mean! When someone asks you to discount your product or to put in more hours of work than you can handle…Hey! Don’t you know I’m busy here? Don’t you know I’m working hard and hate being away from my family? Isn’t it obvious?! The answer really is no. They don’t. When a new project comes to your table, it comes with one thing in mind. Itself. Don’t waste time trying to educate people as to the WHY behind your no. They won’t hear it. Instead, extend gratitude and humility with a soft, gracious no.

“Thank you so much for the kind offer! I’d love to have the opportunity to work with you, but my plate is just too full to take on a new project. You deserve my full attention, and I just can’t give that right now! I hope you’ll understand and keep me in mind for future opportunities. I’d love to reconnect in the future when things have settled down a bit!” 

You just said no AND made them feel like a million bucks, even in the face of disappointment.

3. Be honest. Back to that fear thing. We’re afraid that people will make judgements if we say no to something. We should have a much greater fear…We should be terrified of their judgement when they see what we produce when our heart isn’t in it. I’ll use my photography as an example. I learned the hard way when and how to say no in my first two years of business. I said yes to everything – weddings, maternity, newborn, event – anything I could get my hands on. The result? Instant burnout and the quality of my work declined. If a prospect is not a good fit with your vision of the ideal client, consider gently saying no. Saying yes to poor fits sucked my creativity, my motivation and my talent right out of me. Saying yes to my ideal client inspired me, challenged me and produced powerful work that had a huge emotional impact on my client. Be honest.

“I’m so grateful that you inquired about my services! You are fabulous and I wish we had the opportunity to work together, but I’m confident that a better fit is out there for you. This is just a bit off from my area of expertise, so I’m going to send you in love to an industry peer that has a real heart for what you’re trying to accomplish. Tell them I sent you and they’ll be sure to take great care of you!”

You just said no AND showed value, love and interest in what’s important and best for your prospect.

Caring Parents Teaching Their Children How To Use A Computer

FAMILY FIRST. A successful business isn’t worth much if it takes you away from your family. A successful business is one that challenges you, inspires you and pushes you to aim higher and accomplish great things WITH the love and support of your family. If any part of your business succeeds at the expense of your family, you’re probably saying “yes” a lot more than you should. Embrace the “no” and cling to the quality of life that you and your family deserve. When those areas of your life get the attention they deserve, I promise you that you’ll find yourself refreshed and more motivated to grow your business than you could have ever imagined, because you’re doing it in love, not in obligation.

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  1. Echo

    January 14, 2015 at 3:16 pm

    This is such great advice, Katy! I pinned it to my blogging board and am going to tweet it out to my fellow bloggers!

  2. Angel

    January 15, 2015 at 11:05 pm

    Such a great advice!
    I’m not the type of girl who can say no, but I know I have to learn to.
    Thank you! I’m gonna spread the words

    Angel’s Blog

  3. Keisha | The Girl Next Door is Black

    January 16, 2015 at 3:09 pm

    Yes!!! It’s so important to look out for yourself and know what your limits and boundaries are. This is great!

  4. Kristen

    January 17, 2015 at 9:36 pm

    OMG! It’s like you are in my head! I just took on a project and I’m about to throw up because I don’t want to do it but I HAVE to see it through. I am copying and pasting your responses of how to direct clients to other businesses. GREAT Advice!

  5. Amber

    January 18, 2015 at 12:02 am

    Great post Katy! This is definitely something I should work on more 🙂 But you are absolutely right! You need to know where your own boundaries are before you can expect to communicate those to others.

  6. Becka

    January 18, 2015 at 7:55 am

    I so agree with everything you just said. I am the yes girl. I have such a hard time saying no but I am learning. I have gotten myself into tons of trouble with my yes ways. 🙂

  7. Savanna

    January 18, 2015 at 8:24 am

    This is wonderful advice! I think as Moms, or parents in general we often try to bite off more than we can chew. Sometimes you just have to take a step back and reevaluate!

  8. BritishMumUSA

    January 18, 2015 at 2:41 pm

    Funny that I come across this post, as I have just said yes to MRS. AOK and posting to her new link up, I just recognized your picture as one of the co-hosts to the link up party….. I am saying YES to A Woman’s Quote link party….

    Nice to meet you 🙂


    I spent years learning what to say yes and no to, and not feel guilty….

  9. Jenny B @ Honey and Birch

    January 24, 2015 at 8:46 pm

    Great advice – I struggle with saying no all of the time. Thank you for linking up to the Bloggers Brags Pinterest Party. I have pinned your post to the Bloggers Brags Pinterest Board.

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Purposeful Parenting

How to Schedule One-On-One Time With Your Child



Now that I am almost 2 years into living on my own (holy cow?! for real?!), it occurred to me that my twins were never, ever, getting any one-on-one time with me. When I was married, solo time wasn’t especially frequent, but I did make an effort to split them up to make sure they got to go on an errand with Mom or run to the hardware store with Dad every now and again. Now that it’s just me, it’s always the three of us, together wherever we go, all day, every day.

As a mother of multiples, I know full well that individual time with a parent is hugely important to their emotional wellness. They are intrinsically born into a life of sharing and existing in the presence of their siblings. From the moment of conception, they are two.

They are taught early on to be patient and wait their turn purely out of necessity and routine. Decision-making is always a team effort and line leader/who goes first almost always sparks opportunities for frustration. One-on-one time allows them much needed independence, a chance to share and enjoy their individual interests, and develop their own voice.

So I instated Mommy Date Night. Here’s how I did (do) it.

  • Connected with their favorite babysitter. I knew I had to bring in the “big dogs” if I was going to convince one of them to stay behind without a massive meltdown, so I reached out to their very favorite babysitter. I knew she would understand the challenge and would go above and beyond to make sure the one left behind was just as excited to have one-on-one time with her. We set a recurring night and a set price to help my budget. She started to gather ideas for fun projects that would captivate them quickly.
  • Researched local free and/or family-friendly low cost options. We all know life as a single mom does not come with an endless supply of moolah, so I wanted to keep our evenings out as low cost as possible, especially since child care was already involved. I checked with friends and hopped onto city websites to see what was out there. Here are a few ideas I stumbled upon:
    • (The Obvious) Playgrounds
    • Beach/Nature Walks
    • Library
    • Pet Store
    • Pottery Painting (with free studio fee coupons)
    • Milkshakes or Ice Cream
    • Picnics
    • Museums
  • Let them take the lead and make the decisions. This is by far their favorite part. I usually have three available options in hand. I let them select our final destination. They also get to choose every song we listen to in the car. When we take a walk, they pick the direction. When we go to the library, they pick the books. It’s their time, their way. They feel like little princes.
  • Ask lots of questions. I have learned more about my sons in the past 4 weeks of doing our Mommy Dates than I have in the past year. When we’re out and about, we talk. A lot. I’ve actually noticed they chitter chatter much more when it’s just the two of us. They have stuff to say! I ask about their favorite colors, favorite animals, what they want to be when they grow up, what they love most about their family…anything to spark a conversation. We’ve talked about fears, dreams and monsters. They are more grateful and hold my hand tighter and cuddle closer.

I know I originally began these Mommy Dates for them. They needed that one-on-one time desperately. I’m realizing now that I needed it too. Monday nights have become the highlight of my week. Stress immediately dissipates and I bask in the amazingness of my kids. I am being reminded of those unbelievable, most tender moments of being a parent, watching your children explore the world. It is the perfect therapy for the busy working mom.

There is nothing better than hearing your child say “Mommy, you know what? It’s Monday! That means it’s Mommy Date Day. And it’s my turn!” or “Mommy, I love this day. I love my time with you. Thank you, Mommy.”


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Purposeful Parenting

The Corporate Captive: An Update on My Transition to Work At Home Life



I’m about six months into my transition from full time corporate work to a new, full time work at home routine. I’ve been busily focusing my energies on Modern Femme™ Movement and our upcoming May convention (join us!), also expanding my services with The Hampton Roads Creative, which will soon transition to a special new project that I’ll share with you very soon!

I’d love to tell you that this transition has been an easy one and that I’ve got a perfect routine now, am the epitome of self-care and wellness, but…well, that would be a lie. Truth be told, I’ve been facing some pretty big demons during this season of my life. I didn’t even recognize them at first, until the tell tale signs of stress and anxiety reared their ugly heads.

I never realized how much ten years of corporate work impacted how my brain approaches the work day. I never realized how much I intrinsically measured my worth by how many hours I was working each day. Suddenly, with this new found freedom to set my own schedule, I encountered guilt and an unfair expectation that I still needed to fill the hours of 8AM – 5PM with full time work.

Why did I feel guilty? I think there was (is) a part of me that feels like I need to prove or legitimize my decision to leave the steady paycheck of the corporate world. As a single mom, that leap of faith put not just my finances at risk, but the lives of my children. It wasn’t a decision I took lightly, and I see now that I’m wearing the guilt of that decision unjustly. I rationalized my transition to full time entrepreneurship by acknowledging that I had way too much work to do and needed those hours to focus my energies on my business. That part was true…but not quite as literally as I began to take it. Suddenly, if I did not work every second of 8AM – 5PM, I felt like I was slacking off, not working hard enough, and that my departure from my corporate job was no longer justified because I now had “free time.” Free time to do laundry, go grocery shopping, clean the house, go to the gym, run errands. Somehow those didn’t qualify as worthy work-related tasks.

I found myself in the same cycle I was in as a corporate captive. The alarm would go off extra early, I’d rush the kids to daycare, work like crazy until 5:15PM, race to get them from daycare and then come home with grumpy kids to plan a later dinner and a soon-to-follow bedtime. Then back to the grind, just for extra measure, to prove I was busy. Prove to whom? Myself?

It wasn’t until Somer (and a few other trusted members of my Modern Femme™ tribe) called me out on my captivity that I realized I wasn’t being fair to myself (or to my kids or boyfriend). I needed to hear that self-care is part of my job as a mom and that grocery shopping, resting, going to the gym, running errands, cleaning, prepping for dinner, laundry…those were all worthy tasks I was completing during the day so that I had more time with my kids at night and on the weekends. Wasn’t that why I made the leap to work from home full time? To remove the burden of the corporate schedule, pressure to perform and anxious accessibility that never let me “turn off” and focus on my family? Wasn’t that decision a life-changing move? And yet, here I was…in the same cycle as I was before. Just sitting in my home office instead of a business one.

That realization prompted me to make some pretty hefty changes. I’d be lying if I said I have this all figured out now and life’s a breeze. Nope. I’m still struggling to wrap my head around this and shed the guilty conscious. But I’m getting better.

I now have a no phone, computer, social media rule after 5PM and on weekends. NONE. Nada. Off. Cold turkey. Let me tell you – that’s not easy. But once you do it, it’s incredibly liberating. You know when I felt true (deserved!) guilt? When I told my kids I was shutting off my phones and they looked at me with shock and excitement that they had me all to themselves. Oh what love and special moments I had been missing out on! They were missing me still! I did not make the decision to dive into my business full time so that my family could continue to struggle for quality time. No. I made that decision so that I could take my life back and freely pour myself into my kids and my passions.

If I’ve learned anything from this transition, it’s to be grateful for the community of women I have had the opportunity to build as my support system in all of these big life changes. Placing those women in a trusted position of accountability has enabled me to recognize errors in judgement and when I’m veering off course. Their gentle nudges back towards that which is most important to me, my family, have been truly invaluable. I’m still a work in progress. But I’m free. And I’m surrounded by people that love me, celebrate my decision to follow my heart and my dreams, and continue to challenge me to hold true to why I made that first leap of faith.

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Purposeful Parenting

Year-End Money Tips for Working Moms and Female Entrepreneurs



Money Tips for Working Moms

I don’t know about you but the end of the year brings two thoughts…well, three thoughts for me. One, CHRISTMAS!!!!! Two, fresh start on January 1st! And three, holy cow, what’s my money situation? Taxes are coming.

A big, big thank you to Kristen Robinson, SVP of Women and Young Investors at Fidelity Investments for taking the time to develop these year-end money tips for working moms and female entrepreneurs!

Money Tips for Working Moms

2 Tips for Female Business Owners / Entrepreneurs:

Keep Your Future in Mind with the Right Retirement Account for Your Needs

  • Look into the different plans available to business owners, such as a 401(k) for Small Business, a self-employed 401(k), SEP IRA or SIMPLE IRA.  You may need to appoint a plan administrator- someone who takes care of administrative responsibilities and ensures the plan is operating according to the Plan Document.  Learn more about these different types of accounts here.  
  • Contribute to your account. The deadline for depositing employer profit-sharing contributions for the current calendar year is generally the business’ tax-filing deadline, plus extensions (for unincorporated businesses, this date is usually April 15 of the following year, plus any extensions).

Business Succession

  • If you own a business, have you considered how best to plan for the future?  If you plan to keep it in the family, consider creating a structure that makes it easier to transfer the business’s assets to other family members, such as a family limited partnership or a family limited liability company.
  • There are many options; your attorney or tax adviser can help you select one that is appropriate for you in light of your specific situation.

4 Tips for Single Moms:

Get Involved in Your Family’s Finances

  • It’s important to have a full picture of the family financial situation. At minimum, know what accounts you have and with whom. That includes banks and investing accounts, life insurance, mortgages, and loans. Having a handle on this information is an important foundation as you plan for the future, and can bring greater peace of mind.

(EDITOR’S NOTE: Yes! Yes! Yes! I am still getting a grip on my finances after the divorce. I realize now how little I knew before and how problematic that can be.)

Money Tips for Working Moms

Save for Retirement

    • Retirement is not a destination but a journey, and it’s never too early – or too late – to start putting away savings for the future.  Along the way, there are myriad opportunities to get off the path—and back on it.  And at virtually any turn in the road, there are possibilities to speed up your progress.
      • Make it a goal to save 15% or more of your income each year. If that’s not reachable today, make sure to make it a priority to carve out what you can. Even smaller amounts will add up over time.
      • Aim to have no more than 50% of your take-home pay go toward your “must-have” expenses.

Try to Save Three to Six Months of Essential Expenses in an Emergency Fund.

Look for Growth Potential from your Investments

  • Knowing your financial personality can help you determine the right mix of stocks, bonds and short-term investments that match how comfortable you are with risk, and have the growth potential to meet your life’s needs, be that when you want to retire or when you want to send kids to college.
  • If you’re not sure where to start, read up online, or reach out to a professional.  There’s never a fee to come into Fidelity to talk to a financial planner, but we do recommend you reevaluate twice a year. Just like you take care of your physical health by visiting the doctor and dentist, think of this as taking care of your financial health, which is vitally important as well.

Protect your Legacy

  • In order to ensure that what you’ve accumulated is distributed to your children, family and causes you care about most, it is important to name beneficiaries and create a will and health care proxy. Yes, it can be uncomfortable to think about the ‘what it’s,’ but it’s important to be prepared for the unknown. Do you really want someone else making these decisions for you?



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