One of the first words most children learn – next to their name – is no. No, mommy, I don’t want to eat the peas. No, daddy, don’t make me sit in the corner. No, I won’t do it. No, no, no.
Is that why the word “No” gets such a bad rap? Why are there so many parenting articles that recommend the use of the word “later” or “maybe” instead? A training in saying “no” is as essential as the freedom to say “Yes!”
For all my optimism, I have grown to love the negatives in life. No is a very important word. No, you may not touch that – it’s hot. No, you cannot treat your sister like that – it hurts. No, you cannot have a whole pound of candy – you will get sick.
No focuses us on what’s important, not just what is urgent. If we never eliminate anything, we will never be nourished with what really matters.
The difficulty is that unlike choosing between the lesser of two evils, we usually have to choose between the good and the better. And of course it all sounds good, because it is. But often a no is not just necessary, it is desirable.
Steve Jobs may not have been a nice man to know or work for, but he got this one thing right. “People think focus means saying yes to the thing you’ve got to focus on,” he’s been quoted as saying. “But that’s not what it means at all. It means saying no to the hundred other good ideas that there are. You have to pick carefully. I’m actually as proud of the things we haven’t done as the things I have done. Innovation is saying no to 1,000 things.”
The same is true of time management for moms. It’s not only saying no to your kids when they want to do something potentially harmful, but also saying no to yourself. No, I cannot stay up late too often because I will be tired tomorrow. No, I cannot skip homeschooling today. No, I have to do laundry because no one will have clean underwear tomorrow if I don’t wash clothes today. No, my work isn’t drudgery because people depend on me to get these important things done and if I don’t do them, they will not get done.
As a mom, I already know the art of negotiating with my children while never giving in. Turning it around on myself is an art and ultimately self discipline.
Saying “no” often and at the right time can help you save time.