saying no

Photo by Kirsty Mattsson Photography

Life is busy for all of us, right?

Many of us are juggling work with young families, all in desperate need of more hours in the day (extra time we’re never able to find) with frankly, tremendous pressure to be everything to everyone. It can, and often is, incredibly shattering.

We often find ourselves stretched to our limits as we endeavour to fit in deadlines with school runs, social engagements and a million other commitments (supermarket shop anyone?), all while trying to be the best parents, partners and friends we can be. I need a lie down just writing this.

To me, undoubtedly, success means more time with my kids, plain and simple. Doing a job I love of course is vital to my happiness, with freedom and control where possible.

This blog right here, does just that, but some weeks, some weeks feel overwhelming and exhausting.

Half-term this week saw me take three days off and as you can see from my vlogs, all were life affirming, good fun- days out with my two boys or entertaining friends, and spending precious family time with my new nephew and my folks, while keeping my business running with a wide roster of clients, deadlines, shoots and events.

I had no choice but to burn the midnight oil most nights to compensate for the time out I had over the holiday period (I usually only have one day off a week, not three) and here I am, feeling I need another holiday to recover.

I get it, most weeks aren’t this full on. Many feel manageable, structured and productive. Just not this week.

And here’s the other thing, I’m asked, daily, a great many favours. I totally appreciate and advocate the ‘the don’t ask, don’t get’ ethos but it’s felt a little staggering lately. Like twenty emails a day too much. Look, I’m a kind hearted, generous girl, that will never change- I want and love to help others, it’s in my nature, the way I’m built, but I’ve realised I too, must say ‘no’ in order to help myself.

I will always try and make time to answer emails, facebook comments and messages, tweets and phone calls, but I’ve also learnt the importance of saying ‘no’ for self-preservation and sanity because every favour I pull for someone, means time away from work which pays the bills, and most importantly, time away from my little family.

I’d love to help every single pal and/or work colleague with their start-up, blog, business and event but practically speaking, I simply can’t. I have to be reasonable with what I can offer and the time I have to give.

I’ve had to say no to events, awards, big do’s, shoots that just don’t fit my brand or schedule, many paid to boot, and often find myself double booking, or letting others down and it must stop.

When it comes to blogging questions-I have tonnes of resources here available for free, from how to be a professional blogger to being your best publicist and having the confidence to be whom you want to be among others, but sadly, I just don’t have every answer you might need.

I don’t always have the expertise to offer too, particularly if it’s outside the digital, PR or filmmaking world. Sorry to shatter the illusion of being a know-all. I wish!

I do write posts like THIS though to help the best I can.

We women it seems, certainly struggle to say ‘no’- most of us fear we might be judged, thought of as unkind or selfish to some extent- but it’s time to stop worrying and start uttering that word without fear. to rid the guilt, do as men do and simply say, ‘I’d love to help but right now, I’m sorry but I can’t’.

We must collectively reject the jobs that don’t fit, or aren’t worth our time, the engagements we just can’t make, to take control of our time because when we do, when we say ‘no’ we create space and time for things, people and opportunities that require a ‘yes’.

We must of course agree where possible to adventures which push us out of our comfort zone, to helps others who need it most (I’m all for helping charities as much as I can), to be a good friend and partner- but as with everything, there must be balance. We must make that judgement call and stand by it.

To protect ourselves, to not feel worn out, or at worst, feel used.

When you do the asking too, question yourself what you can do to help that person too?

Have you commented on their blog recently, made an effort to be kind and thoughtful, considered how you can help them, first? Often we ask, myself included, without spending time, or demonstrating that we care, ourselves. No grand displays necessarily, just a show of respect, an understanding that small gestures count for a lot.

To summarise, I say, that in life, as with business, simply know your worth. Learn when to say ‘no’ and practice it until it doesn’t feel the worst thing in the world.

Because it’s OK to say ‘no’, you know. It really is.

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44 Responses

  1. Lisa Gumn

    Great post, it’s all too easy especially for women I think to get completely overwhelmed and overworked by saying yes to everything. In this modern society we have created this idea that women have to be super women- juggling being wives, mothers, working, house keepers, friends etc. I myself definitely need to remind myself to say no sometimes.

    Reply
  2. Potty Mouthed Mummy

    Not on the same scale as you of course, but I have felt this a lot lately. I created a blog business but that seemed to bring more people expecting/wanting thing for free and it actually made me realise the importance of saying no sometimes. Self preservation is definitely necessary. Hugs lovely xx
    Potty Mouthed Mummy recently posted…A Halloweek Cookalong with Hello FreshMy Profile

    Reply
    • Honest Mum

      So hard isn’t it. For me it’s not so much PR’s asking for freebies but favours from lots of randoms, people I don’t know who are expecting a lot. I only have so many hours in the day as do you and I felt it was time to take a stand. Sorry you are feeling swamped too, you are amazing, never forget your worth x

      Reply
  3. Tubbs

    Great post 🙂 Self care is so important and knowing your boundaries for what you will and won’t do are a bit part of that.

    Reply
  4. Emma T

    Totally agree with this. I have to admit I’m pretty good at saying no. Mostly because I have a full time day job, as well as the blog so I don’t have the time to do everything that’s offered anyway. I do sometimes feel negative, but that can’t be helped when you need to do stuff for yourself.

    What I do find hard to do is say no to myself – it’s my aim for next year to slow down on blogging, and take one day away – one less day posting, promoting etc. I’ve started dancing again so that’s one evening less to spend, although at the moment I’m cramming it all in anyway. but I need to lose weight and get fit again, so that means more early nights and more early mornings to get up and exercise, so no is going to have to feature more.
    Emma T recently posted…Month of Firsts 14My Profile

    Reply
    • Honest Mum

      Ooh dancing sounds wonderful. Blogging is my full time job and definitely means I need to be strict with my time and kinder to myself. Sounds like you have great balance there!

      Reply
  5. Wave to Mummy

    Fab post and definitely agree, saying no is important. I am myself a lot about yes and taking opportunities, but no is an important word to reserve that time for yourself so you can say yes to the important stuff. I am finding I have to say no to quite a few things at my day job as I am busy enough, and at my blogging too I’ve hit a wall – I just can do all the commercial stuff that is offered to me. Not enough time. And that’s ok!
    Wave to Mummy recently posted…My Monthly Roundup – October 2015My Profile

    Reply
    • Honest Mum

      Totally agree there, ‘yes’ is very important too, it’s all about balance isn’t it and I personally find I struggle to say ‘no’ at times but I’ve come to realise I must do so a lot more. It’s about working out what is right for you. Blogging is my full time job but even so, I have to say no to events or posts that just don’t work for my schedule, prioritising the ones that do.

      Reply
  6. Becky | Spirited Puddle Jumper

    Love this post Vicki, really resonated with me. I’ve started to have to say ‘no’ more- I’ve been burning out trying to please work clients and also taking on more blog work than I can really commit to and give my all, and something needs to give. These past months it’s been engaging with, and commenting on blogs that’s had to slide, but I miss it (I’m still reading on my phone!) and so I’m trying to do more again for fun like the good old blog days, and just say ‘no’ to other requests that don’t interest me. It feels empowering at times! x
    Becky | Spirited Puddle Jumper recently posted…Autumn walks and thoughtsMy Profile

    Reply
    • Honest Mum

      That’s wonderful Becky, so important to prioritise what makes you happy. It’s that elusive balance we all seek and it can be so hard to master. I really feel I’ve had to say ‘no’ far more in a bid to take control back. Thanks for your lovely comment x

      Reply
  7. Clare Morfin

    wow what a great post and incredibly well timed for me. Starting to feel so under pressure and I’m tired – there I’ve admitted it and the afternoon i have just posted a blog about it. You are so right – NO – is a very hard word to say when you pride yourself on helping others. Thanks for this post – it reminds me it’s ok – Cheers Clare x

    Reply
    • Honest Mum

      Thank you Clare, I really pride myself on helping others too but like you really feel I need to start saying ‘no’ more to stop feeling so burnt out x

      Reply
  8. Juliet McGrattan

    This is something I’ve had to get better at but it doesn’t come naturally. It’s easy to get ‘spread too thinly’ and you end up doing everything badly instead of a few things well. You can say No without being rude and often although you feel a bit guilty initially it can feel really GOOD to be in control of your time. Thanks busy lady, great post x
    Juliet McGrattan recently posted…Activity is EVERYONE’S business.My Profile

    Reply
    • Honest Mum

      Absolutely, so important to stop fearing saying ‘no’ and actually taking control, prioritising and feeling happy with your choices x

      Reply
  9. Me, You and Magoo

    Really needed to read this today…I try to take my daughter to as many parties as I can, but I’ve said ‘no’ to two invites recently. I think it hasn’t gone down well with Mums involved, but I just feel burnt out at moment & these particular parties involve a 2.5 hour round trip to get there & back. I feel so bad for saying ‘no’ & carried it around with me all weekend. This post had made me feel better…thank you!
    Me, You and Magoo recently posted…Halloween denim clutch purse and reminiscing about Etsy Street TeamsMy Profile

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  10. Carla

    Great post. Too often women find it hard to put themselves first. It is important to proritise what you need to accomplish and then lend a hand, or in some cases politely decline. I have a hard time saying no, but I’m learning. I just have to remember that I can’t please everyone! Well done to you for taking a stand.
    Carla recently posted…Candles create an inviting atmosphere in your home this AutumnMy Profile

    Reply
    • Honest Mum

      Thanks lovely, spot on, it’s about politely declining where you don’t feel you can or have anything to offer. So hard but so important 🙂

      Reply
  11. Notmyyearoff

    It’s so hard to sometimes say no isn’t it? I’ve found I was terrible at this and eventually I had to learn simply because I was getting a bit stressed out and missing some important stuff and sometimes it’s just really needed. It sounds like you’re feeling like you’ve gotten some control back in that part of your life, good on you!

    Reply
    • Honest Mum

      Thanks lovely, it is so hard and we always feel unfair when we say it but it’s so necessary to kindly decline. We only have so much time x

      Reply
  12. Jini

    Great post! I am still not saying ‘no’ enough but I am gradually learning that it is ok to disappointment people as long as you do it the right way!

    Reply
  13. Hayley - Downs Side Up

    Once again you have hit the nail on the head Vicki. I love helping others and so many people have supported and helped my causes, you included over the years, but some days my inbox is awash with requests. I hate to say no but the little asks can build up to a point where you can’t get past them. Wise words. H x
    Hayley – Downs Side Up recently posted…What Makes a Perfect Holiday for Your Family?My Profile

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    • Honest Mum

      Absolutely darling and I will always make time for my friends like yourself but you are right, the requests, particularly from people you don’t know can add up and it becomes overwhelming xx

      Reply
  14. Leigh - Headspace Perspective

    Great points well made Vicki. We all need to draw the line somewhere. It’s something I’ve learnt the hard way: recently I’ve been burnt out emotionally and physically because I tried to do too much. I’m learning it’s ok to say ‘no’, to put myself first, to do so isn’t an insult to Hugo’s memory, and it’s not selfish. Thank you for this reinforcement xxx
    Leigh – Headspace Perspective recently posted…Listening Events for Families Who Have Experienced Pregnancy Complications, or Lost a BabyMy Profile

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    • Honest Mum

      Oh Leigh, thank you for this, you are so right, you must look after yourself and put you first, I totally relate to feeling burnt out and this way we can take control of our lives, you do so, so much in Hugo’s name and for so many others, sending you a lot love xx

      Reply
  15. Louise

    i Definately needed to read this. I hate saying no, but my inbox has gone crazy and I need to. There is nothing wrong with saying no 1 infact it can be a really good thing x
    Louise recently posted…Feeling BroodyMy Profile

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    • Honest Mum

      It really can Louise, it can be hard but it’s so important, it allows us more freedom and most importantly we feel in control of what we do and don’t want to do x

      Reply
  16. Mama and More aka Zaz

    We certainly do have to draw lines and you are right Vicki, there’s only so much you can do without taking away from yourself and feeling depleted or just physically running out of hours in the day! We all try to help each other, but at some point n1 has to come first! Great post xxxx
    Mama and More aka Zaz recently posted…How was the OM Yoga Show? My roundupMy Profile

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    • Honest Mum

      Absolutely darling, thank you for this. I won’t stop helping others, I love it but I’ve come to realise I am feeling rather burnt out and I need to have greater balance xx

      Reply
  17. Michelle Reeves (The Joy Chaser)

    Awesome post from you again Vicki and I agree – I’m very much one for embracing opportunities and saying yes but sometimes you just have to say ‘no’ for the sake of self-preservation.
    Michelle Reeves (The Joy Chaser) recently posted…5 steps to better blog imagesMy Profile

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    • Honest Mum

      Absolutely Michelle, it’s also important to say yes to the right things isn’t it, not just because you’re being asked, thank you for your wise comment x

      Reply
  18. Adam Alexander

    No is an incredibly useful word when used correctly. The real art is in deciding whether or not a justification is also required. Often it isn’t, and if it is given when not required it can leave you in a weakened position. That can be tricky to get right! One to definitely reflect on. Great post Vicki! x

    Reply
  19. Julie's Family Kitchen

    Well said Vicki. Thank you for your recent support for my charity fund raising for Great Ormond Street Hospital, that really meant a lot. xx
    Julie’s Family Kitchen recently posted…#BakeItBetter for Great Ormond Street HospitalMy Profile

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  20. Harps

    Love this post. It’s definitely one I can relate to. I’m constantly fire fighting and struggling to find time for what matters – family time as I’m busy trying to help others or attend every social engagement we’ve been called to. Fab advice. x

    Reply
  21. Angela at Daysinbed

    This is a great post Vicki. One of my biggest struggles in life has been learning to say no to people. Since becoming a blogger I’ve become much better at this as I cant be used at the expense of my family. Like you say, favours is time, time away from work, work which pays the bills and gives time for family. I also burn the oil all the time. My time is divided between sleeping, blog related work and my daughter and I work late into the early hours in the morning to get my work load done. Of course there are times when we can help others but at the end of the day..we need to say No when that is the right thing to do. I’m saying no a lot at the moment because most of the offers I’m getting is really attempts of others to use me because I’m a blogger. It’s not easy this kind of work and many do not realise just how many hours are put in!

    Angela x
    Angela at Daysinbed recently posted…Planning a Christmas Bucket List for Me and My GirlMy Profile

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    • Honest Mum

      Thanks Angela, we really must realise and know our worth, always, in life and work. The more we do, the greater self esteem we have and the more others respect us too. Time is precious and while I am absolutely all for helping others, it mustn’t be at the expense of feeling well and happy xx

      Reply
  22. Alex

    I LOVE this post. I feel bad for my tweet the other day now though! I guess it’s a compliment, being asked to do so much. But you’re right to say no when you can. X
    Alex recently posted…Funky Kid FridayMy Profile

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    • Honest Mum

      Oh please, not at all, happy to help and honestly I mean that and didn’t mean you at all. I just mean a huge culmination of requests from work and life, the works which has left me feeling overwhelmed xx

      Reply

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