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Embracing When and How to Say No

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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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9 Comments

9 Comments

  1. Avatar of Echo

    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. Avatar of Angel

    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
    xo

  3. Avatar of Keisha | The Girl Next Door is Black

    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. Avatar of Kristen

    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. Avatar of Amber

    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. Avatar of Becka

    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. Avatar of Savanna

    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. Avatar of BritishMumUSA

    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 🙂

    xoxoxo

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

  9. Avatar of Jenny B @ Honey and Birch

    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

The 10 Best Things About Being a Working Parent

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I sometimes find myself envious of the stay-at-home moms and dads who stroll up to the bus stop with a steaming mug of coffee in their loungewear or yoga pants.  Once their kids step onto the bus, they have what I often perceive to be an entire day of freedom laid out in front of them to finish laundry, work out, run errands, or maybe just take a nap. Must be nice, huh?

Of course, I know stay-at-home parents don’t have it easy at all, and that “fantasy” of mine is truly that – an illusion resulting from my jealous misconceptions – but I’d be lying if I didn’t sometimes fall into the “grass is always greener on the other side of the fence” pit. 

The 10 Best Things About Being a Working Parent

When I’m feeling jealous, discouraged, or inadequate, I think about the reasons I’m a working parent and why it works best for me and my family.  If you’re like me (or just human for that matter), at some point you struggle with what-ifs about the choices you’ve made and often wish you had the life of someone else.  The 10 best things about being a working parent might help you refocus and put things into proper perspective. I know every parent, whether working in an office or taking care of the kids at home, could use reminders that they are not alone in the world!  

And in that same vein, I find it necessary to write this disclaimer:  The list below in no way is meant to give the impression that working parents are better than those that stay at home.  This list is meant to highlight the reasons that working parents should give themselves a break and focus on gratitude instead of envy.

  • Adult Interaction 

It goes without saying that spending the day with your kids can be wonderful.  A rainy Saturday afternoon spent baking cookies, coloring, etc. is a great way to get to know your kids and spend some quality time cuddling. Extend that rainy day to a rainy week, however, and you may start to crave some adult interaction (and a straight jacket or two).  

When you are a working parent, you frequently get the adult interaction you crave. Psychologists recommend that stay-at-home parents get involved with other adults in their situation to ensure that they get enough adult conversation to feel connected to the outside world.  As a working parent, you have that connection with your peers every day.   

It is fabulous to spend the day with your kids, but at some point, every mom or dad needs to connect with another like-minded person on a more intellectual level.

  • Income

The cost of daycare can be overwhelming (sending twins to day care is the equivalent of an extra mortgage payment!), so many people believe that staying home with the kids versus paying for child care generally equals out when it comes to finances.  And it often does! 

Depending on your profession and your personal circumstances, your salary may generate more income than you will save in child care costs (like it does in my situation).  In addition to your salary, you need to factor in health care, retirement benefits, and other employment perks (like flextime or gym memberships, which are becoming increasingly popular).  Having a steady income is a luxury many families don’t have when mom or dad stays at home. 

  • Staying in the Game 

The general economy is slowly improving, but for awhile, unemployment was at an all-time high and the job market was extremely competitive.  Unfortunately, especially for women, re-entering the workforce after a period of unemployment made it even more difficult to land a job. 

While ideally every parent could jump back into the workforce after taking time to raise children if they chose to take time away, it doesn’t necessarily work that way.  As a working parent, you keep your foot in the door and your resume active to better take advantage of future opportunities.  

10 Best Things About Being a Working Parent

  • Setting an Example

Children who grow up with working parents quickly adapt by learning responsibility, self-sufficiency, time management, and the value of hard work.  That is not the only way for children to learn those lessons, and stay-at-home parents are equally focused on instilling strong character traits in their children; it just so happens to put you on the fast track when you work outside the home. 

Of course your children ARE the center of your existence, but you also crave a life outside of them and necessity may dictate it if you need to work to help support your family financially.  You were a unique person with personal interests before they were born, and it can be difficult to maintain that when your role as parent is in center focus.  Working outside the home can set an important example that hard work pays off, you need to earn your way to success and survival, and that you have priorities and interests that aren’t always all about them.

  • Mental Stimulation

Taking care of children is hard work, but it’s not always mentally stimulating.  Stay-at-home parents and working parents alike need to take a break and do something that turns on that extra brain power, like read the news or a book without pictures.  Working parents have more opportunity to do this when they’re in the outside world, meeting the challenges of a career and leading a professionally and mentally adventurous life outside of the home every single day.  

While the mental stimulation of a career can also be the root of exhaustion, stress and more than a little chaos as a working parent, it’s also one of our greatest benefits when we step outside the home each morning.

  • Socialization for your Kids 

Your children may be in school full-time, go to a daycare, or you may be one of the lucky ones that sends them to grandma and grandpa’s house.  Whatever your situation, your kids can benefit from learning to adapt to time away from the home when there are working parents in the mix.  This may mean getting along with other kids at a daycare or school, or adjusting to a different style of care with a family member or home daycare provider. It fosters trust and can diminish separation anxiety, as your children develop a routine understanding that “Mommy and Daddy go to work, but Mommy and Daddy always come back.”

Developing the skills to interact in new situations, with new people of varying personalities, is an important skill for your child to develop, and life as a working family can help cultivate that confidence.

  • Special Occasions 

As a working parent, one of my favorite things to do is take time to volunteer at school or attend a holiday party.  Because I’m not always able to do these things, when I am able to participate, my kids are absolutely over the moon with excitement.  There is something extra special about being a working parent at school on an impromptu day off, and I like that I can make the time with my kids seem like a special occasion and surprise treat. As a working parent, quality not quantity is most often the name of the game, purely by default.

Stay-at-home parents of course trigger the same happiness and joy when they attend school functions with their children. It’s always a big win for any child to see that special face round the corner on their way to the classroom. And admittedly, I’m often envious that they get those special moments more frequently than I might.

10 Best Things About Being a Working Parent

  • Sense of Accomplishment

As I mentioned above, it is important to have a sense of identity outside of your children.  This extends to accomplishing goals outside of potty training or learning milestones. While equally important, they don’t always feel as satisfying when you cross the finish line (although I certainly did my best end-zone victory dance when we finally got potty training down!).  

When you complete a complex project at work, earn a raise or a promotion, or simply contribute as a valued employee with creative ideas, you’re awarded a deep sense of mental accomplishment in yourself that doesn’t necessarily depend on your parenting skills. Of course, stay-at-home parents are incredibly accomplished and break records every day too. We’re all winners! 

  • Prioritization 

Working parents spend their few free hours chauffeuring kids to and from school, piano lessons, soccer practice, make school lunches, plan birthday parties, etc. on top of a busy workload, deadlines and a full day at the office/store.  Working parents often need to become master planners, and become adept at organizing and prioritizing. Survival of the fittest rings true, with working parents channeling every resource to keep energy and focus front and center. The challenges working parents face logistically often cultivates a deeply rooted talent for accomplishing a lot with very little. 

  • Perspective

Every day I talk to working parents like me and stay-at-home parents in my community, and I always learn something new.  I’m thankful that my job allows me to see both sides of the coin of parenting, and I have a greater appreciation for the time I do spend with my children. 

Being a parent is never easy.  Focus on the best things about being a working parent and remember that every parent, whether the stay-at-home mom in yoga pants or the corporate executive dropping her son off at daycare, is doing their best. We’re all parents. That is our bond. Our personal journeys are our own. For me, working outside the home is a necessity, mentally and financially. But that doesn’t make me any better, any smarter or any more capable that a parent who chooses to stay at home. Remember, we’re all in this together! 

10 Best Things About Being a Working Parent

 

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Purposeful Parenting

Ready, Set, Date Night! Five Must-Haves When the Babysitter Comes Over

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You’re free!  It’s date night! (Shhh…I’m dating!!!) Make sure you have a stress-free time out of the house by preparing for the babysitter.

Date Night - Must Haves for the Babysitter

Most of us don’t have a live-in nanny to help care for the children, cook the meals, and wash the dishes.  If you do…good for you (just kidding, I don’t mean that).  If you’re like me and you have to depend on babysitters to watch your kids when you need a date night, girl’s day out, even if it’s just to get groceries, you need to do a little planning beforehand.  And if you’re like me and have crazy twin toddlers, you need to do a lot of planning.

Depending on the age of your children, the age of your babysitter, and how long you’ll be gone, what you need before the babysitter comes over will change.  Generally, however, there are five “must-haves” before the doorbell rings and you are released from parental duties for a glorious period of time (Did I tell you I’m dating?!).

Date Night - Must Haves for the Babysitter

  1. Food

Unfortunately, I never seem to have food in the house.  I always have the staples like water, bread, and wine…I mean, fruit…but I don’t usually have the ingredients to put a quick dinner together or fulfill whatever craving my twins (like homemade chocolate chip waffles).  There is nothing worse, though, than having a babysitter come to your home and not be able to offer her (or him) something to eat.  Well, there is one thing worse:  leaving the babysitter with your hungry kids and no food to offer.  Make sure you have easy-to-make meals and healthy snacks on-hand to feed the kids.  Even if you do not need a babysitter during a major mealtime, make sure you have a little something something to offer both the babysitter and your children.  And always remind your babysitter about any food allergies.

  1. Spare key or garage code

When I first started babysitting I brought the toddler I was watching outside to play.  I didn’t realize that the doorknob lock was engaged and once the door shut, we were locked out of the house.  I had to knock on the neighbor’s door and he used a credit card to “break in.”

The point of the story is even if you don’t expect your babysitter to go anywhere with the kids, make sure the babysitter has a spare key or the code to your garage or any other information needed in case a random, unplanned-for activity leaves the babysitter and your child with no way to get back into the house. I have two neighbors with spare keys that are willing and able to help whenever needed.

Date Night - Must Haves for the Babysitter

  1. Suggested timeline

You don’t need to micromanage your kids’ activites, but providing a general timeline will help your babysitter and your children feel more secure.  For example, suggesting that the kids play a board game after you leave and then have a snack will give your kids a better sense of direction for the time you are away and will help your babysitter avoid the “I’m bored” whine immediately after you walk out the door.  Make sure your babysitter knows where games, toys, and other activities are located. Help your babysitter follow your normal routine for everyone’s benefit.

  1. First aid and emergency supplies, along with contact information

This is a no-brainer, although I have to admit that I don’t necessarily think to tell babysitters where to find the band-aids as I’m heading out for date night.  It is important that your babysitter knows where to find basic first-aid supplies, however, so if the unthinkable happens, your babysitter will be prepared.  Also, make sure your babysitter has a way to contact you in case of emergency.  Not every home has a landline – my kids don’t even know what one is – and you can’t just assume that your babysitter has a cell phone.  Make sure your sitter has a way to contact you and 911, if necessary.

Date Night - Must Haves for the Babysitter

  1. Bedtime basics

Maybe bedtime is a breeze for your kids.  I’ll admit, now that the boys are a bit older, bedtime is a lot easier than it used to be.  That being said, bedtime can still be tricky business.  Make bedtime easier by having pajamas laid out beforehand.  Brief the babysitter on any out-of-the-ordinary bedtime routines.  Of course your kids always brush their teeth thoroughly for two minutes before bed every night (can you hear the sarcasm?), but make sure your babysitter knows about specific books your child likes to read, whether the hall light should be kept on with the bedroom door open wide, slightly cracked, or shut tight, and whether your kids still like to be tucked in.  Even older kids can have a tough time with bedtimes, so make sure your babysitter is fully prepared to make the process easier on everyone.

As a parent, you need to take time for yourself.  Plan a creative date night, visit a friend, or just get your hair cut – just make sure you have what you need when the babysitter arrives to ensure that you can think as little as possible about what is going on at home while you are away. A little extra prep goes a long way when it comes to peace of mind and making the most of your “quiet time.”

Date Night - Must Haves for the Babysitter

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Purposeful Parenting

How to Avoid the Epic Meltdown: Understanding Your Child’s Cues

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How to Avoid the Epic Meltdown | Chaos & Kiddos: Mommy's Survival Guide
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This post contains affiliate links. For more information, please refer to my Legal Policies and Terms of Use. The opinions here are entirely my own. 
How to Avoid the Epic Meltdown: Understanding Your Child's Cues - Infographic

Duh, duh, duh….the dreaded meltdown. With one kid, this can bring the strongest mommy to her knees. With multiples, well…the word “epic” takes on a completely new meaning. In the worst possible way.

My system certainly isn’t perfect, and my kids give new meaning to the word tantrum (I have one that goes “no bones, limp baby, immovable and impossible to catch” and one that goes “cement block that weighs a bazillion pounds and can’t be bended, lifted and/or manipulated in any fashion,” with both adding crazy decibel, ear-splitting screams to boot). At some point in the insanity, I learned to anticipate the meltdown.
My husband and I can spot a meltdown coming from a mile away. We’ll give the other that “It’s time to go. Stat. Grab the kids and sprint. NOW. Forget your shoes! Leave them! Run!” look and as the rest of the human race looks on in bewildered dismay, we quickly head for the hills before things get ugly. I think we have our exit down to about 46 seconds these days (58 if I get to grab my shoes).
On a day-to-day basis, I’ve developed a couple of tricks that stave off most meltdowns. IF I’m paying attention. This is where the understanding your child’s cues part comes in to play. You have to catch the cue before it’s too late. “Practice makes perfect” is the phrase of the day here. Or is “trial through fire” more resonant? In any event, here are my go to lifesavers:

1. Mini Baby Blanket with Attachment Loop – Cold is the enemy. Nothing brings on the whine, which brings on the frustration, which brings on the ultimate refusal to act like a normal human being like frigid weather. I was lugging around blankets to tuck the kids in to their car seats (Remember to avoid bulky coats when strapping kiddos in!) and they were getting tossed, dropped, forgotten, you name it. Then I realized my mother-in-law had given us these super cute sensory blankets with a loop that could attach to a stroller and the light bulb went off. I strapped both blankets to the side of each car seat (they are small and hang to the side if unused, so unobtrusive and the loop is short and sweet, so no wrapping around anything else) and they’re always there when I need them. The link above is one of many Etsy shops that make these small wonders, and ours are even sports themed, so the husband is happy.
2. Baby Sign Language – I admit to being one of those people that eye-rolled the idea of baby sign language when I was pregnant. Never gave it a second thought until my kids starting screaming for reasons that I couldn’t seem to identify. A friend suggested I take a jab at it, and purely out of desperation, I did, still with a bit of attitude and skepticism. And then the boys started signing back. HALLELUJAH! We did only the basics – “More, All Done, Hungry, Please, Thank You” – and that opened up whole new worlds for us in communication. Not only were they excited to sign and overjoyed that I knew what the heck was going on, but I was immensely relieved and didn’t feel like Failure Parent of the Century. Big win. I eat my humble pie proudly. I was an idiot to think this was lame.
3. Snacks at the Ready – Baby Cooler – If cold is the enemy, hunger is the Antichrist. I’d say a good 50% of the time, the boys’ tantrums stem from being hungry. We’re usually in transition to our next meal when the tank slips below E. Low fuel = channeling Satan. And the perfect timing for this special little stream of insanity was pick up from day care. The kids were tired and spent and ready for dinner. Like, 5 minutes before I got there. The first words I heard daily were “Mommy! I need my milk! Hungry!” They were whining, crying, going all sorts of Apocalyptic on me because the last thing they wanted was to be strapped into their car seats for the ride home. They wanted to be teleported straight to the dinner table. I got tired of this daily warfare, especially at the end of my own long day at work, so I started packing snacks and milk in this convenient little cooler (which as an aside, a friend gave me with the promise that it would be one of the most handy baby items I received – she was right). It gets stashed in the community kitchen at work and I grab it on my way out the door each evening. Every morning, I repack and head off knowing that I’ve crossed one tantrum off the list for that day. Yay me.Insert random cuteness here…I mean seriously, people, how can these children have meltdowns that rival the End of Days?

Blevins+Family A+Day+in+the+Life 0009
Blevins+Family A+Day+in+the+Life 0016
Blevins+Family A+Day+in+the+Life 0063
Photos Courtesy of Somer Anne Photography

Moral of the story? A little organization and forethought can go a long way. Considering WHY my kids were throwing tantrums and then exploring what I could do to prevent them before they started has saved me a million tears. Like I said, it’s not a perfect system. But every little bit helps.

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