Simplify your life. We’ve all heard these words, and maybe even thought that we would REALLY like to do it. But would you consider your life simple? I dare say, about 99% of us would say our life is “complicated & hectic,” and we live in a very distracted state of mind.
In our modern culture, we live such fast-paced lives running here, there, and everywhere…but to what end? My story of living on the hamster wheel of life is not much different than most, but how I exchanged that for a unique life I never expected is VERY different!
And while everyone’s lives are different, there is one thing you can do today to simplify your life. Learn to say no.
I know that seems strange, but just hear me out.
Learning to say no to certain things gives you room to say yes to the most important things.
How to Simplify Your Life By Saying No
This may sound strange, but it’s essential. You absolutely MUST learn to say no. If you’re a people-pleaser like me, saying no will feel unnatural and difficult. But if you truly want to simplify your life, you’ve got to do it.
Now, let’s clarify exactly what I mean by saying no. I’m referring to those tasks or activities other people request of you. You know the ones I mean…the ones you do out of guilt.
These are usually the tasks that push us to our breaking points. Things like making goodie bags for the whole class, agreeing to be the head coach or assistant coach for your child’s team, or “helping” a friend by watching her kids while she runs errands.
Make no mistake; all of these things are wonderful things! However, when you add them to an already full schedule, they become too much.
If saying yes does not add more stress to your day or prevent you from doing the things you need to do, then sure; but if making goodie bags for the whole class means missing out on family night, then say no.
Saying no, as uncomfortable as it is, will help you focus your attention on the tasks that need immediate action.
You will find yourself more content and focused on the activities you’re heading up or participating in, as opposed to worrying about the other 37 things you need to somehow get accomplished by the next day.
How Can I Say No?
The greatest struggle with saying no is wondering, “What am I going to say?” For some reason, many of us are under the impression that we have to give a 10-point sermon on why we can’t do whatever it is we’ve been asked to do.
But the truth is that it’s absolutely acceptable to say no, without giving any explanation. My dad’s favorite quote for me when I feel overwhelmed with the prospect of taking on another task is “No is a complete sentence.”
Saying no doesn’t mean you’ll never help in the future; it just means you aren’t going to help now. If you don’t feel comfortable saying no, consider saying “not this time.” Just remember this, if you are always working because you feel guilty not doing it, you will never find freedom.
Learning to Say No
One of the most influential books in changing my mindset about saying no was The Best Yes by Lysa Terkeurst. It was an absolute game-changer for me!
I gained insight into why I said yes all the time, and how my yes was actually robbing others of potential blessings. I even discovered that my saying no offered opportunities for others to say yes. It had never occurred to me that others wanted to be in charge of things that I was taking on simply out of guilt.
When the Lord revealed this fact to me, it made saying no easier because I finally understood that I wasn’t the only person that had to do everything!
Remember, the task you feel guilty saying no to could be the very task that someone else is hoping to say yes to.
When to Say No to Finally Simplify Your Life
1. When You Feel Yourself Overcome with Mom Guilt
“Mom guilt” is that feeling of never doing enough and never being enough. The interesting thing about mom guilt is the fact that no matter what type of mom you are you experience it.
I have been blessed to hold many different “mom” positions. I’ve been a stay-at-home-mom (SAHM), working outside the home mom, work-at-home mom. So, if anyone understands the guilt associated with each “position,” I do.
When I was staying at home while our boys were babies, I always felt guilty for not helping shoulder the financial burden my husband was carrying.
New mom guilt? Check.
When I was teaching in the public school, I always felt guilty for not being able to spend focused time with my kids. I was usually physically present but rarely mentally present.
Working mom guilt? Check.
Now that I’m a work-at-home mom, I feel guilty because I have to work during the day while my kids are at home with me. So, yeah…I know how heavy guilt can weigh on you.
Work at home mom guilt? Check.
Choose to Focus on the Positive
If I had taken the time to focus on the positive and not let the cons overwhelm me, I would have seen some amazing things.
- By staying at home, I was able to see all of my boys’ firsts! I was the one that (exhaustingly) got to spend every day with them.
- When I went back to teaching and became a working mom again, I was able to relieve my husband of the financial burden to the point that we were able to add on to our house using cash for the whole thing! (Thus giving me the future homeschool room, which is now my office.)
- Now, I’m able to be the one educating my kids, while simultaneously working from home in an effort to contribute financially, again.
I mention all of that to say this…we experience different seasons in life requiring different things of us. The guilt will always be lurking in the recesses of our minds. But we can choose to focus our time and attention on the good things our family is gaining instead of the negative things.
Remember, it’s your choice.
2. When You Find Yourself Trying to do it All
Cleaning, laundry, and cooking has traditionally been the woman’s job, but that was when a woman’s responsibility was homemaking and childrearing. While I believe it’s our job as wives and mothers to create loving and welcoming homes, I also believe that everyone can contribute to the upkeep of your home.
EVERYONE lives there and EVERYONE create the messes! So, it’s not unreasonable to ask everyone to take part in cleaning up those messes.
But, somehow, we’ve gotten this idea that if we don’t wait on our husbands and children hand and foot, we’re not good wives and mothers. (Remember the mom guilt? It’s back with a vengeance.)
In reality, that’s the farthest thing from the truth.
Is it ok for us to do things for our families? Of course! Is it also acceptable for us to encourage our family members to participate in tasks that keep our home running smoothly? Absolutely.
So, the easiest way to delegate, divide, and conquer is by creating a chore or task chart that includes all of the tasks you need to accomplish daily, weekly, monthly, etc. Then when you have a list, each person has the opportunity to select different chores.
I actually created a checklist for my boys with each of their specific tasks broken down into daily and weekly chores. And since my younger son has issues with time management, I even went so far as to assign a completion time.
This one thing has helped us become more productive as a family, and it has helped to keep our house tidy and clean. Now, we can spend time doing things we want instead of digging out from under the clutter that has overtaken our home.
A friend shared a great way that they go about cleaning in their house. They have a specific playlist with a few songs to which everyone “danced.” They would clean the house during these songs. It was a fun SHORT time for everyone to work.
Then the family could explore and see what all had been accomplished…and see WHERE everything had been put.
Saying no is not easy. It feels unnatural and goes against every fiber of our being.
But if you crave a more simplified life that allows you to say yes to the most important things, then saying no to some things is going to have to be part of your conversation. Because the truth is that when you say no, you give others opportunities to say yes.