Family Life

Say “No” and Slow Down

It seems we made it: summer is winding down, we are shifting into back-to-school mode, and extracurriculars are getting started. This means things are going to start speeding up again.

I know at my house, summer allows for a break from the running around and the activities, and it allows us to sleep a bit later. There are plenty of days when the little ones don’t even change out of their pjs and instead lay around all day and be about as lazy as one person can be.

It is a well-deserved break, but that time is coming to an end, and I can feel the gears starting to spin faster. If you’re anything like us, we are in the sprint of working on the summer school work packets and seeing which uniforms fit and which need to be replaced. This involves having conversations like “your backpack is fine” and “you don’t need a new one,” meanwhile you’re looking for the lost lunch box and trying to decide if you are going to continue to make lunches or try the school cafeteria this year.

Let’s not forget, we still have to start all the extracurriculars and practice schedules. We are again facing the pain that lies within multiple children all needing to be in different places at one time with only two drivers to get them there and picked up. Next comes finding what’s needed for these activities, just like school. It’s a lot. For any new parents aging into this, I hate to tell you, but in my opinion, it doesn’t get any easier. It just keeps adding up. I do hear that adding another driver to the mix helps lower the stress, but then the stress goes back up when you remember your child is out on the open road alone or with the rest of them.

I have learned something over the last year or so, and it’s so simple when I tell you, but to me is a big deal: with all the stress we have and problems we have at work or at home, most of the time we know the answer to making the problems go away–we just don’t take action or hold anyone accountable. We try to manifest it or just do the work ourselves. For example, we have our children helping around the house, but most of the time they don’t finish their jobs. Instead of addressing the issue, we find ourselves doing the job they were supposed to do once they have gone to bed.

Even though it may not be stressful to have to do that job, it does take away from the time you have to sit and relax, go for a walk, or spend time with your spouse. With all my plans this year, one of them is to start saying “NO” to more things and holding my family and coworkers accountable. After all, I tell my children all the time: “NO” is a complete sentence. There are a lot of things we can say “NO” to that will help slow things down a bit. And, when everyone does their part, it’s not so crazy after all. You don’t have to worry about having to get to soccer practice for 4:30 when no one has gotten dressed or laid out their school uniform and you’re spending 20 minutes looking for someone’s lost shoe (problems that could have been avoided if someone did their part the night before).

My challenge is simple: say “NO” more often, and hold the people around you accountable. Slow down this year, and fight for the 45 minutes of peace you and your spouse deserve. I bet no one has marked their calendars to look for uniforms and lay out clothes for the next day from 9-10 p.m. With all the running around you are going to be doing, you earned a break! ■

This article was originally published in August 2022.

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