It’s okay to say no, Moms

I know we often feel like we have no option but to say yes, but moms, it’s okay to say no.

it's okay to say no

We live in a busy time. We all feel it. Trying to keep up with life when it is going lightning fast seems impossible.  We are being pulled in a million different directions.

We get tired. No, scratch that. We get EXHAUSTED. There is often too much on our plate. That exhaustion makes us cranky. We get short with our husbands and kids. Life seems less fun.  We have too many balls in the air and are definitely dropping some.  We are so rushed, so pressed for time that none of our commitments are getting our best.  We are spread too thin.

We tell ourselves, “no more! Something on my plate HAS to go.”

And then someone approaches us and asks us if we can help out at an event, be part of a committee, make some food for an activity, or run a club.

Inside we can hear ourselves screaming, “I can’t! I. JUST. NEED. TO. REST.”

We open our mouths to say no. But instead out comes a “yes”. Because, you say, “when I say no I feel guilty.” Sound familiar?

Before we know it, we’ve signed up for three more things. We are stressed at just thinking of how we will fit it in. Our anxiety has risen and we haven’t even started doing any of the work for the new commitment we’ve just signed up for.

Moms, it’s okay to say no.

Not only is it okay to say no, it’s okay to not give a long explanation or try to justify it. We often feel this need to give a long explanation of why we can’t do whatever someone is asking us to do. We see others saying yes to everything, and we tell ourselves that if they can do it, we should be able to do it. We are convinced we will look bad if we say no.  We view saying no as a sign of failure.

As a stay-at-home mom I’m liable to convince myself of a lie: That because I am at home I can’t possibly be as busy as a working mom and therefore should be able to do more when asked. When I know I can’t and I do say no, I start apologizing.

Here’s the truth – It doesn’t matter whether you work, stay at home, have kids, don’t have kids, are retired, etc. Everyone’s life looks different. So we need to stop comparing ourselves to how someone else looks like they are “crushing it” in life.

We usually don’t know everything, and they very well could be struggling with keeping up. But even if they are not, it doesn’t matter. God did not create us all the same. That means He may want a life for you that is filled with less.  I recently had a wise friend say to me that God doesn’t necessarily give us all the same energy reserves.   Some of us can have more on our plate than others.  That means just because someone else has signed up for double the amount of commitments you have, doesn’t mean you should.  He gave you an energy level that is unique to you and to what you can handle on your plate.

For me, I struggle with having enough energy and am often very tired. I homeschool my kids. I do a bit of homesteading. I work from home. I have a few church commitments. I am at my max. I am trying to do the things that are on my plate right now well. I am trying to be intentional when it comes to the time and energy I pour into my marriage and my children.

Adding much more to my plate is a recipe for disaster. And yet, I still constantly apologize when I have to say no to another commitment.


Moms, we are allowed to say no.

And you don’t have to have another activity or event going on at that exact moment to be able to say no. You don’t need a scheduling conflict to happen before you can say no.

You are allowed to say no because you want to be at home spending some time with your kids.

You are allowed to say no because you don’t want to miss dinners around the table with your family.

You are allowed to say no because you need some time to rest and rejuvenate.

You are allowed to say no because you want more time to spend in your garden, or to walk your dog, or to read a good book.

Being “busy” with something else that prevents you from signing up to another commitment doesn’t mean you have to be busy outside of the home. It can mean you are being busy with building a life with intention. You don’t have to wait till you are in burnout recovery mode to say no.


Even though I am home with my kids everyday homeschooling them, sometimes I feel that we don’t get a lot of quality time together – you know, besides the time spent hashing out some math problems until our brains hurt.

My 11 year old daughter has a long list of things she wants to learn. She wants to sew. She wants to start her own YouTube channel. She wants to cook. Many times when she asks to do these things I say, “we will get to them when we have more time.”

You can guess when we find more time. Pretty much never.

I knew it was important to my daughter. It is important to me to be intentional on teaching her these things. Yet fitting it in seemed to be a challenge. However, I knew if I didn’t make a point to schedule it in, it was never going to happen.

Therefore I declared that November would be family month. I told my children that for all the weekends in November we would not add anything to the calendar that wasn’t an absolute necessity and we wouldn’t commit to anything extra. Instead, each weekend of November we will spend time working together on some new skills they want to learn. We will also make time to sit down together and just have family time, whether it be watching a movie, playing a board game, or something else.

It is SO easy to let these important moments get away from us by saying yes to every commitment that comes our way to the point that we constantly have a full schedule. Before we know it our children are grown, or we feel like our spouse and ourselves are ships passing in the night rarely seeing eachother, or we haven’t had a chance to see that friend that we’ve been meaning to call for months now.

This is WHY we need to say no. Yes, I am a strong believer that we need to commit to something – volunteering at our children’s school, doing ministry at church, helping at a local soup kitchen. These things don’t run themselves and they are often worthwhile causes that do so much good in our schools, churches, and communities. But signing up for one or two commitments is very different from signing up to so many things that we are running on empty.

We need to stop worrying what others are going to think of us when we tell them we can’t commit to something. We need to be okay that someone might not be very happy with us when we say no.

We need to STOP finding our worth in how people look at us when we say, YES. Our worth comes from God, not man.

How much we sign up for or commit to will usually change depending on what season we are in. I’ve come to the realization recently that, as cliche as it sounds, the most important work we can do can be within our families and in our homes. My kids are only young once. They won’t be small forever. I more than likely will have many more opportunities in my life to volunteer to worthwhile causes. However, when it comes to my kids I only get one shot. I don’t want to send them off to college and wish I had been more intentional with them and said no a little more often to spreading myself so thin.

Moms, say yes to where God is calling you to be, but make sure you are saying yes because of that motivation, and not because you feel guilty for saying no to someone, or are trying to please those around you. None of us will ever please everyone. And that’s okay.  It’s okay to say no.

Related:  How to Keep Going When you Want to Give Up

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