Life balance coach and speaker Renée Trudeau asks a crucial question of all parents and caregivers, what is your intention for the summer? Even though we’re all navigating a lot of chaos, it’s important that caring for ourselves not get shelved. Trudeau offers nine creative ways parents and caregivers can say no when feeling pulled in different directions.
Last Thursday morning, after my nature-based workout, my friend Beverly asked me to join her and her mom to pick blueberries. Thinking of the mountains of emails that awaited me and before “No, I have to get to my office” could come out of my mouth, I paused. I’m really intent on embracing a magical, slower, more sensual summer. What better way to do this than to stroll through fragrant, bountiful blueberry bushes picking and snacking on one of the summer’s most delicious gifts.
The answer was, “YES!” For me, this choice represented the summer my soul desires! What’s your intention for summer?
Perhaps you’re overextended and need expanses of unscheduled time to do nothing? Are you being called to learn a new skill or explore a career change? Do you desire to explore new ways of being and start living more in the present? Or, if you’re exhausted, you may need to pull out your calendar and block out periods for deep relaxation in nature?
Do Not Shelve Self-Care
Yes, we’re living in a time of the unknown, and many of us are navigating a lot of chaos–but that doesn’t mean our self-care has to get shelved. Pause and think about how you want to experience THIS summer.
If you’ve ever had the experience of waking up on Labor Day and realizing your summer was not quite what you had envisioned, you know how key it is to enter this season with purpose, vision and intention.
One of the most popular tools from my first life balance book, The Mother’s Guide to Self-Renewal: How to Reclaim, Rejuvenate and Re-Balance Your Life, is the “Nine Ways to Say No” list from my chapter “Managing Your Energy, Setting Priorities and Saying No.” We have a finite amount of energy. And our energy–our life force–is PRECIOUS! In addition to often over-committing, most of us waste a lot of energy through endless hours on screens or engaging in activities that don’t truly feed us.
One highly effective way to harness your attention and energy, so you can focus on what really matters, is to say “no” to the “shoulds” and those things that are non-essential -–so you can say “yes” to what matters most. Learning to say “no” is like weight lifting—the more you practice saying it, the stronger you become. Here’s some helpful language to support you in mastering this essential self-care skill.
Nine Creative Ways to Say No for Self-Care
Just No: “Thanks, I’ll have to pass on that.” (Say it, then shut up.)
The Gracious No: “I really appreciate you asking me, but my time is already committed.”
The “I’m Sorry” No: “I wish I could, but it’s just not going to work right now.”
The “It’s Someone Else’s Decision” No: “I promised my coach (therapist, etc.) I wouldn’t take on any more projects right now. I’m working on creating more work/life balance.”
The “My Family is the Reason” No: “Thanks so much for the invite, but that’s the day of my son’s soccer game, and I never miss those.” (Consider hiring a coach or therapist to help you get clarity here.)
The “I Know Someone Else” No: “I just don’t have time right now. Let me recommend someone who may be able to help you.”
The “I’m Already Booked” No: “I appreciate you thinking of me, but I’m afraid I’m already booked that day.”
The “Setting Boundaries” No: “Let me tell you what I can do …” Then limit the commitment to what will be comfortable for you.
The “Not No, But Not Yes” No: “Let me think about it, and I’ll get back to you.”
As you look at the next 90 days and consider a new work, family, or volunteer project or commitment, remember that while important, it will take away time and valuable energy from your heart’s greatest desire. Pause, reflect on how you want to experience this summer, and remember, “Things which matter most should never be at the mercy of things which matter least” (thank you, Goethe).
I encourage you to find some quiet time this week to reflect on what you need during these slower months.
Subscribe to Live Inside Out, a weekly blog written by Renée, and click here to learn about upcoming speaking engagements (including online). Renée is the author of two books on life balance, including the award-winning The Mother’s Guide to Self-Renewal. She lives in Brevard, NC, and Austin, TX with her husband and is enjoying being a recent empty nester.
Top image by Liana Mikah on Unsplash
Second image by Daniel Reche on Pexels