If you're anything like every other working divorced mother on the planet, you have too much on your plate.
You also have a really, really hard time saying no.
For a while after a divorce, when we have nothing better to do or we're trying to make friends or build our career, being asked to do things for other people makes us feel needed and wanted. It's wonderful to feel like you're an important part of other people's lives. Eventually, though, it gets tiring. Eventually, you've said yes too many times, leaving you focussed on anything but regaining control of your life after your divorce.
Eventually, you need to stop.
The problem with saying yes too much is that after a while, you start to feel guilty when you say no. When you've realized you have to start turning people down, here are some ways to make the process easier for both you and the other person. Here are some tips:
1. Create a plan and stick to it. Figure out your resources when it comes to both time and money, and commit to not overextending those resources. If you've planned to be on one charity committee this year and you're asked to join another one, you have a solid reason for saying no.
2. Do not allow yourself to be cajoled. You need to focus on your needs and the needs of your family. When a canvasser or an overzealous member of the PTA starts harassing and nagging you, think about what they're doing. They are deliberately trying to make you feel bad in order to achieve their own goal. Is that something you support? People who badger and nag are mean -- don't let them harass you.
3. Be honest. If you know that you can't meet their request, say that outright. Don't try to make them feel better by saying you'll try if you know you won't. If someone invites you to their party and you know you won't be attending, say so.
4. But don't be too honest. Nobody needs or deserves to know all of your reasoning for doing anything. If you can't make a weekly committee meeting because that's the one day of the week your ex has the kids and you want to stay home and read magazines, that's your right. They don't need to know that. All you need to tell them is that you have plans.
5. Keep your answer short. If you say, "I'm sorry, but I'm afraid I can't," there's not a whole lot there to be argued with. Once you start giving excuses and reasons and defenses, you open yourself up to disagreement. I can't remember how many times I've told someone, "I'd love to but I have to..." just to have them give me a very good reason why whatever it is I have to do is less important than what they're asking. Don't give them the opportunity.
Remember, nobody is entitled to your time but you. Keep that in mind when the requests start piling up.
Create a Post-Divorce Recovery Plan, by Kim Olver
Unlocking and Living Your Dreams Post-Divorce, with Marlee LeDai (video)
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