With summer days dwindling, I feel my FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) full force. I’m craving more time for summer adventures. I think we can all agree that being a grown-up gets in the way of fun-time. Being a business owner, mother, homeowner, etc., carries a lot of weight. But what about all that other stuff that isn’t all that important but still manages to get in the way?
When I recently shared my longing to tackle my summer to-do list with someone close to me, they gently stated, “Maybe you just don’t have time for hobbies.” This didn’t sit well with me—and I was quick to correct—letting them know that these “hobbies” are self-care efforts and that I deserve to take care of myself.
I reflected on how my “free time” was being used and realized I had to tap back into my “just say no” mantra. This way of thinking was initially hard for me because I have been a “yes” person most of my life.
I can have a good time in pretty much any environment so I’m quick to say yes to any invitation, even if there’s something else I’d rather be doing. I want others to view me as helpful so I am quick to give a hand when needed. I want people to like me and don’t want to be blacklisted from friend groups.
However, saying “yes” all the time often comes at an expense—my own. At the end of the day, it was sucking away my time, energy and my money. I needed some boundaries.
I’ve learned that I can’t do it all and that I deserve to put myself first to nurture my own happiness. I had to convince myself that it was OK to give a hard pass in exchange for what I want. I started a list of what matters most to me:
- My family. I have a son to raise. It’s my job to keep him healthy and happy. He needs time with me as much as I need time with him. He comes first.
- My job. I love what I do and want to keep doing it. I get tired and need rest to keep up. Oh, and I also have to make a living.
- My home. I put a lot of time into maintaining my house and deserve to relax in it.
- My appearance. Most days I like to leave the house looking my best. And sometimes, I just want to chill out and paint my nails.
- My relationships. I have some really good people in my life. These are the folks that bring me up, not down. I need to nurture them.
- My health.My physical and emotional wellbeing are important. Working out and time to reset is essential in maintaining my sanity.
Say “no” without guilt by gently letting others know that you’d “Love to but really need to focus on INSERT IMPORTANT ITEM HERE.” Using this method softens the “No” blow and the recipient is likely to take it less personally. But don’t always count on it. There will be some hurt feelings when you put your own needs first. And that’s ok. They will get over it.
What was also helpful for me was creating my own Personal Policies. Below are a few gems I carry with me—they are my mantras, reminders, guilt relievers and my “out” from doing things I don’t want to do:
I don’t do direct sale parties. This is not to say anything negative about LuLaRoe, Norwex, or Herbalife. I think these are great products and I commend people for selling them. But if I fulfilled every invitation, my full-time job would be attending these evening and weekend parties and I would be broke.
Also, I know you say I don’t have to buy anything but after I eat all your food and drink your wine, I will feel the pressure to make a purchase, even if I didn’t want to. So this is a firm, no. I mean it. I once walked out on a dinner that turned into a (surprise) pyramid scheme pitch.
Social media doesn’t run my life. In all honesty, I keep social media for four main reasons 1) Running my business, 2) Posting flattering photos of myself, 3) Bragging about my child and how awesome of a mom I am, and 4) (Occasional) cyberstalking. Try not to judge—you know I’m not alone in this!
I don’t scroll, respond to requests to post my prettiest picture, or send birthday wishes. Sorry, not sorry. I have been busy living in the moment and loving every minute of it. I want to spend quality time with those that matter to me most and don’t want my time to be sucked up staring at my phone.
It’s OK if the house isn’t perfect. I am sure you are gasping right now at the thought of a professional organizer having dirt, dust or unkempt spaces. I am going to be straightforward on this. Yes, I am very organized and try to control what clutter enters my home. I also have structures and routines to maintain my home. But if you think I get home after a long day of work and can’t wait to strap on an apron and start deep-cleaning my house, you obviously don’t know me!
Sometimes, the house has to wait. It’s not the end of the world if there’s some dust on my furniture, my son’s bed isn’t made, and I still have laundry to do. We will survive and after a reset, we can be in a better place to focus our energies.
I can’t make every friend’s party or group get-together, and that’s OK. It’s tempting to say yes to alleviate the fear that they will unfriend you, think you aren’t cool anymore, or intentionally uninvite you from future events and make sure you know it. (These are real fears in my head.). At the end of the day, if they are truly your friends, they will understand, appreciate your honesty, and wish you the best on your journey toward self-care.
I can’t help everyone. I’m a giver, a lover and a problem-solver. It brings me joy to share these gifts with others. I’m a social worker and professional organizer, which makes me a target for friends and family in the event of a crisis or if they need help with their home. I love to help, don’t get me wrong, but sometimes I can’t help others and help myself at the same time.
*Photo courtesy of Thinkstock Photos