For many parents, like myself, hearing the word "no!" is like hearing a small child drop an F-bomb in a public place. It's cringe-worthy.
We teach our children to say "yes mom" or "yes dad," and to only respond with a "no" when something harmful or unpleasant occurs. Perhaps this is why the negative response has such negative connotations (besides the obvious).
I was walking through a local market with my children recently, and as we walked past the bakery, my children began to chime in unison, "Please, mom, PLEASE can we have a cookie!?" I responded coolly with a "no kids, not today" and we continued on our way. As we passed the bakery, the man behind the counter exclaimed, "Wow, well done! You said no and your kids didn't make a big deal out of it. I rarely see parents say 'no' to their kids these days."
At first, the comment surprised me. It seemed like a no-brainer - saying "no" to treats is a common occurrence in our family (although we definitely balance our restrictions when it's acceptable to indulge on sugary treats).
However, as a self-employed business owner, I've also had a hard time with saying "no." The unpredictability of contract work can be daunting, making it easy to accept every opportunity that comes my way. But I've quickly learned that saying "yes" to everything doesn't always result in a positive outcome. I soon realized that overloading my plate would actually have negative results.
1) More time. If you reduce your yes's and only accept tasks that you are sure you can manage, it will be easier for you to balance your busy schedule - and even set a little time aside for YOU!
2) Take charge. Saying no to your children teaches them balance, and keeps them well-adjusted. It is important for them to learn that they can't have everything they want. Sometimes the answer will be "no" and that's OK.
3) Do what's best for YOU. Saying no to plans with friends, potential clients, or play dates for your kids can be tough. But being honest will lead to happier choices, and ultimately lead to a happier you. If you don't think you can handle the extra workload, or night out, or kids at your house, it's better to just say no than to commit to something that you really don't want to do.
Saying no to your children can be a teaching moment - an opportunity to learn about responsibility and how to deal with disappointment. It can free up some time for the things that you really want to do, and can alleviate a lot of the stress that comes with being a parent.