Volunteering seems to go along with having kids. There seems to be a perpetual shortage of room mothers, PTA volunteers, and Sunday School teachers. For many years, I was “super Mom”. I said “yes” to everything because I was afraid to say no.
One day, I was reflecting on how I was supposed to teach Sunday School, watch the kids in the nursery during church, and also teach Children’s Church that evening. In addition, the Wednesday night regular had to go out of town and asked me to cover for her that night. I also thought about the other commitments I had during the upcoming week with other organizations. That day was the turning point for me because I realized I had to learn to say NO.
Practice Makes Perfect
I discovered that I really had a fear of letting people down. I was afraid that if I said NO, that people would be upset with me. Because of this, I was running ragged trying to keep my volunteer commitments and raise my children(I was a single mom at the time). My friend suggested that I practice saying NO. She’d ask me to do something, and I’d work on a response to her request. It sounds silly, but at first it was difficult!
Let Them Down Gently
If you have a hard time saying NO, it helps to say NO nicely. “I’d really love to help you with that, but I simply can’t at this time.” It’s nice, and it works.
Repeat If Necessary
I was shocked one time when I used my “polite NO response” because the requester asked me why I wasn’t able to help out. I gave my reasons why, and the requester then explained to me why each of my reasons were inadequate. Perhaps you’ve had this experience too!
I mentioned my experience to a psychologist friend of mine, and asked her for suggestions on how to deal with this sort of situation. She told me to stick to my guns and to remember, “You don’t owe anybody a reason. If necessary, repeat that you are sorry that you can not volunteer and then walk away.”
Learn To Balance Yes and No
I went through a long season of not volunteering for anything in church or in community events. Recently however, I decided to try volunteering again. I volunteered to teach a class at my daughter’s homeschool co-op. However, when the requests came for me to fill other volunteer positions, I politely declined them. Right now, I’m doing all I can with the other responsibilities I have on my plate! While I felt guilty for a little bit, I also felt proud of myself. I’d finally learned how to say NO!