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Embracing When and How to Say No



Learning When and How to Say No | Chaos & Kiddos
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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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  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 Avoid the Epic Meltdown: Understanding Your Child’s Cues



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?

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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Purposeful Parenting

How to Speak the Right Language: Understanding Your Child’s Cues



How to Speak the Right Language | Understanding Your Children's Cues
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Every day I pick up my children from day care to hear “They are such great kids! They had a blast today and are some of the best listeners we’ve ever had. They’re so well-behaved!” Yay, Mama win! And then we go home and they act like total demon-infested, hell-raising psychos and won’t listen to a word I say. Weekends can be brutal and I sometimes find myself praising Jesus that I decided to keep working and not stay-at-home.

What was I doing wrong? Who were these little hellions and where were those
sweet kids from day care?
Purposeful Parenting - How to Speak the Right Language: Understanding Your Child's Cues Purposeful Parenting - How to Speak the Right Language: Understanding Your Child's Cues

Best Thing I Ever Did: I went to pick the kids up one day and they were enjoying themselves, so I decided to just sit and watch for a bit and let them play. Funny thing happened. I started listening to how the day care teachers communicated with my children and how they responded. And the light bulb went off. I don’t know how to speak the language my kids understand.

I started listening harder. And then I came back the next day and did it again. Now, every time I drop off or pick up, I listen. How are they talking to my kids? What are they saying? How are the kids responding? And then I mimick it at home.

Major win!!! My kids are starting to see an extension of their daily routine back into the home and it’s making sense. I say certain words they’re used to hearing and like magic, they listen. Not every time (which I suspect also happens at day care), but the majority of time. Major improvement. We are starting to speak the same language.

Sometimes I forget (or refuse to admit) that I am not my children’s primary care provider. For those of us that work outside the home, most often our kids spend the majority of their time somewhere other than with us. Sometimes, being reminded of that hurts. A lot. But truth is, they develop routines, cues and references that we’re not familiar with. We need to learn the language they are used to hearing every day so that we can communicate our needs in a way they understand. I need to speak my children’s language.

Phrase Adjustments that Worked for Me: 

  • “Walk away please” instead of “No!” or “Don’t Touch!” 
  • “Are you using your listening ears?” instead of “Listen to me!”
  • “I’m going to go to work for awhile, but Mommies always come back!” instead of “Say bye to Mommy. I have to go to work.” 

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Emily Speaks

11 Alternatives to Self Harm: Emily Speaks



Alternatives to Self Harm | Emily Speaks | Chaos & Kiddos: Mommy's Survival Guide
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If you’re just connecting with the Emily Speaks series, be sure to check out her first post, Cyber Bullying and Self-Harm, to catch up. Today, Emily will be sharing 11 alternatives to self harm to help those hurting to make healthier choices to cope with emotional struggles. 

11 Alternatives to Self-Harm: Emily Speaks

I know it can be hard not to self-harm if you’re being bullied, but you need to try to think of other ways to deal with the pain. Cutting leaves angry scars on your body. You should try to deal with your hurt in other ways. Here are 11 good examples that will hopefully help you out a little bit.

1. Try talking to somebody about what’s going on so that you can get it out of your system.

2. Go outside where nobody is around and just scream as loud as you can for as long as you want.

3. Take a rubber band and keep it on your wrist so whenever you feel like cutting you can just take that rubber band and snap it on your wrist (softly – not to where it harms you).

4. Get an old teddy bear or stuffed animal that you don’t want and take your anger out on that.

5. Go on a jog or go out and ride your bike or long board or whatever you have and just ride around to calm yourself down.

6. Go hang out with your friend(s) and get your mind off things that would make you want to cut or do anything else to harm yourself.

7. Sleep it out and take a long nap and see how you’re feeling when you wake up.

8. Go hang out with your family and just relax.

9. Listen to some music.

10. Read a book.

11. Get an art journal and draw out your feelings. You can paint, draw pictures, even just scribble hard.

These are some of the ways that I stop myself from cutting, because I do still think about it when things get rough. When that happens, I try to do these instead and it helps. It does! You need to do anything that would take your mind off of any bad thoughts you are having and make you want to hurt yourself. This might not be the best list of ideas, but if you take a chance and try them out, they might end up working for you. You’re not only helping yourself, but you’re helping everyone else around you by making a better choice to not self-harm. 

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