Does saying NO mean you are lazy?

I get asked a lot of questions around here but one question I’m proud to rarely get asked is “how do you do it all?”.  I never want to come across on this blog like I’m superwoman because I can assure you I’m most definitely not.  What I am though is very careful with my time and I guard it like there’s no tomorrow.  Literally.

I don’t have a lot of commitments to outside activities in my life.  Once a week my daughter has piano after school for two hours and twice a month I attend the parent meetings at my children’s schools.  One of them is during the day.  I do volunteer as Treasurer of the parent group at one of the schools and I only agreed to that as it’s something I can do from home.  I also work from home but I do try and schedule my work while the kids are at school or in the evenings after they’ve gone to bed.

I like having our weeknights and weekends free.  I love hanging out with my family and having us all home together under one roof.  I like that we eat dinner together every night, have time to play Wii and board games, watch old episodes of Full House, read and go on walks.  I like having time to organize.  I like having time to be still with God.  I like that our stress is kept to a minimum.  It’s intentional. Right now, in this season of my life, my family is my priority.

Does having so few scheduled activities and so much free time make me lazy though?  Some have told me it does.  They don’t understand that the only choice isn’t running around like a chicken with it’s head cut off.  There is no right or wrong answer here.  This is what works for my family.  I don’t judge others who make different choices for their families.

However for those of us who do desire to slow down it can be a constant battle to make it happen.  Have you ever noticed that when you ask someone how they are, they answer with busy.  It seems to be the most popular catch phrase these days that many wear like a badge of honor.  Now imagine what happens when someone asks me if I’m busy and I answer with no not at all.  Right away I get a look like what the heck is wrong with you or well let’s see if I can change that for you.  And boy do they try.  Requests for help come in from all over the place.  I’ve gotten very good at saying no over the years but it’s taken a lot of work to let go of the guilt of using this two letter word.   Nobody wants to hear it.  I’ve also found that if you give an inch, they’ll only take more.  Harder still is sometimes having to say no to the many good opportunities that come along.  It’s a constant struggle to protect this sanctuary of home but the rewards are so worth it.

Saying no is hard.

Draw your boundaries and stick to your limits.

Lose the guilt.

It’s incredibly rewarding to make this happen for my family.  I know I hurt others along the way that don’t understand my reasons for saying no especially when I don’t have a ton of other appointments and commitments to “justify” it.

Does this make me lazy?

Maybe but I can guarantee you my family doesn’t think so and this season of life with them in my care only lasts for so long.

For tips on saying no please refer to this great post called How and Why To Say No over at Passionate Homemaking.

How crowded is your calendar?  Do you have a desire to slow down yet have a hard time saying no?

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven.
Ecclesiastes 3:1

images credit: shutterstock

Filed under: Gallery, Motivation-Encouragement, Time Management

Comments

67 Responses to Does saying NO mean you are lazy?

  1. 1
    Margie Cramer says

    Love, love, love your article and couldn’t agree with you more!!!! It’s beautifully balanced ~ I love boundaries, and because of that, sometimes we DO have to say no. Thank you for sharing! God bless!

  2. 2
    Stephanie says

    I love this post. Thank you. It helps me come to a more home centered life, which is what I desire. I just wish I had that desire when my family was younger. Better late than never I suppose.

  3. 3
    Rachel says

    Our calendar does feel pretty full these days, but it feels like it just got busy all of a sudden Doesn’t seem like we added much, though! My husband and I don’t have a single night at home next week. Glad we have weekends!

  4. 4
    Rachel says

    Oh, and to answer your question—no, it doesn’t make you lazy. It makes you smart! I’m such a sucker.

  5. 6
    Princess Christy says

    Saying no doesn’t make you lazy – it makes you smart. There is definitely a difference. I have definitely said no to things. I used to feel guilty, but not anymore!

  6. 7
    Sarah at SmallWorld says

    Great post! I feel smothered when I have too much on my calendar. I love to be flexible and have unscheduled events. BUT because of this particular season of my life, I do have a lot of commitments. I just try to always see light at the end of the tunnel. We might have a heavily active week and then a breather, and that keeps me sane.

  7. 8
    Alicia says

    Thank you for this encouragement. Sometimes I actually start to feel guilty for not having more planned or for saying no purely to be at home experiencing some down time. I needed this reminder.

  8. 9
    Mrs. Wilson says

    I definitely DO NOT AGREE that saying “no” means you’re lazy. It means you have your priorities in check!!!

    I’m learning to say no. With the baby coming and such, I’m learning it out of necessity. I said “yes” to WAY TOO MANY things last time, so this time I’m saying “no” to everything and just focusing on my family – and that? Is NEVER a waste of time.

    Awesome post, Laura!

    • 9.1
      Melinda S says

      Absolutely true. Where is it written that we have to be at everyone’s beck and call? As the mom of two grown children who, even though they still live with us, we don’t see much at all, I can encourage everyone to savor the moments – they do go by all too quickly.

  9. 10
    KerryAnn @ CookingTF says

    Saying ‘no’ doesn’t mean you’re lazy. It means that the item, no matter how important to other people, does not trump your current list of most important items. I learned to say ‘no’ and ‘not now’ a long time ago, and I have to say that my life is much better for it. When you don’t have time for family, you’re showing them that these other activities are more important than they are. And that rings true even if you originally got involved in the activity FOR their sakes. I don’t ever want my children to feel like an outside activity was more important than they were.

  10. 11
    camille says

    NO, NO, NO! That doesn’t make you lazy at all. Like you said that works for you and your family. If anything you have prioritized your activities in order of true importance. People before things. (applause) You did hit a question I’ve been meaning to ask you though. How are you able to juggle all those things? If you don’t mind, in general, what does your day look like time wise? I think I have a time management issue ( i know), and a consistency issue. My next question, have you always been consistent? You said you learned to be organized, but were you consistent in the things you did before or did you learn that too? Digging deeper into my disorganization. Camille

  11. 12
    Michaela says

    LOVE this post! Here lately my answer to “How are you?” HAS been busy. In my defense, this isn’t always my answer. We’re trying to get our house market ready, so in truth I am busier than normal. I’m truly glad that “busy” isn’t always my answer.

    • 12.1
      Laura says

      Life definitely throws us some curve balls occasionally doesn’t it. Currently I’m a little busier than I like as well with all the book promotion I’ve been having to do. Thankfully this isn’t the norm for me either….here’s hoping things for both of us slow down soon.

  12. 13
    Lain says

    I think we can easily become addicted to busy-ness. We see it as a sign of our popularity and importance! I often don’t know what to do with myself when I have free time.

    I’ve been pondering removing myself from activities I no longer receive fulfillment from, in order to free up time. But I am feeling guilty about saying NO after I’ve said YES! Thoughts?

    • 13.1
      Laura says

      Oh that’s a tough one Lain…I do think we have a responsibility to finish what we have started but at the same time we have a responsibility to ourselves and our families as well. I’m very careful about what I say yes to in the first place to avoid this dilemma but earlier this year I did have a situation where I said yes to something and then realized very quickly when feelings of anxiousness wouldn’t subside that I’d made a mistake. I did call the lady back and gave my apologies and backed out. Thankfully the project hadn’t started yet and I was able to get out of it. I’m now considering giving up my Treasurer role at the school and to be fair I will finish out the year and my commitment before letting it go. It’s tough for sure, I guess we just have to weigh the stress of backing out to the stress of staying with it. Good question!

  13. 14
    Jennifer says

    I completely agree with you. I have been trying my best to limit the scheduled busyness that crowds lives. When I succeed, there is a greater feeling of peace in my home and my family and I enjoy our time spent together more because it isn’t rushed. Thank you for sharing your thoughts! I love your blog.

  14. 15
    Joy says

    It sounds like you know what your priorities are and I think few can say that. It’s hard not to let the demands and priorities of others influence our choices so I think this is great that you have learned to say no. I need to learn how to do that!

  15. 16
    Shannon says

    It took a serious accident for me to realize that I didn’t need to be as “busy” as I was….my recovery was long and slow – physically, emotionally, and literally. But I realized I could say no to things that I really didn’t want to do or that conflicted with something else I already had planned and I wouldn’t feel guilty about it. And I think it’s made my life more fulfilled. Now that I have a daughter and my husband works nights, we guard our personal time closely – family and family time is important to us and we have learned that saying no is better than saying yes and either doing a job poorly or not having any time to spend together as a family. And we are trying not to use the word busy because what we’re actually doing is living (http://nannyshanny.blogspot.com/2010/11/redefining-busy.html)

    • 16.1
      Laura says

      Great post Shannon, thanks for linking to it here!

  16. 17
    Katie says

    SO good, and SO true Laura – I couldn’t agree with you more!! My thoughts EXACTLY!! And for me, homeschooling my kids takes up a HUGE chunk of everyday, and to add much more on top of that is nearly impossible. It can be so difficult to say no though, but I think this improves with every passing year!

  17. 18
    Amber says

    We took last year off and I did not have my kids in anything extra-curricular and all of our time was pretty much unscheduled. It was very nice to have that and I really treasured the family time, especially since I was running a dayhome.

    This year we have picked up activities again (and dropped the dayhome!) and I am loving it as well. It energizes me to keep busy, and having the kids each in their own activity (and hubby working on a new career!) gives me a chance to spend one on one time with each of the kids. :) I think that they each love having their own activity too; we’ve picked things that they excel in and I am really enjoying watching their self-confidence grow. :)

    All that said, if we feel we need to take a night off, we do, without a moment’s hesitation. Between my hubby and I, we’ve mastered the art of saying no, and most of the time it isn’t hard. Life totally is all about building a strong family foundation right now, and that is our number one focus. :)

  18. 19
    Sheila Gregoire says

    Laura,

    I so agree with what you’re saying, but I find it just doesn’t work in my own life! It did when the kids were younger, but I’m struggling now. I write full-time; I speak on the weekends; and I homeschool. But I could handle all that, I really could. The problem is that now that the girls are teens, THEY have schedules!

    My 16-year-old teaches piano several nights a week in our home (I’d prefer she do that than have a part-time job). She is taking her lifeguarding certification. And she’s soon to start driving lessons. Both girls are working on their piano, and they’re both involved in different praise bands at church. They’re both involved in the Bible Quizzing program through our church, and made the international team last year, and I run that program because otherwise they wouldn’t have a chance to do it!

    It was easier when they were 8, and all we had to worry about were the occasional music lesson. But I have to admit that I’m finding these teen years so busy! And it is hard. I’ve cut my stuff; it’s hard to cut theirs. And that’s what lends stress to my life!

  19. 20
    Lori K says

    Yes, yes yes!! I SO need to figure out how to say no!! I did say no once, last fall, to a photo shoot… it was the hardest thing for me to do, and I felt guilty about it, but I didn’t regret it!!! (Although, I did have a good reason to “justify” it)

    Thanks so much for sharing!

  20. 21
    Cassie {Day of Bliss) First Time says

    I really think that saying No to the outside world is sometimes the best thing you can do for your family. I have learned it is easy to become “busy” with the sense that you are doing good. However the reality is no one can replace you and if you are so busy doing good things for others, but are not their for your family what good are you really doing. While I do things outside my home, I know right now my first priority is my husband and kids and when I asked to help etc I try to remember to see how it will effect my family as well.

  21. 22
    Andrea says

    Love this !!
    I feel/think the same way. It’s so nice to read this.

  22. 23
    Handy Man, Crafty Woman says

    Great, great post. I sometimes just don’t understand how people can commit to so many activities, esp. for their children. I think that many children are over scheduled. I just don’t get how people can bear having a kid in a sport that has 4 practices a week, and 2 games on the weekend; and all the running around that ensues…and a 2nd child with a similar schedule!! ?!?! Not against sports, I just think it’s too much sometimes.

    Our son doesn’t have any outside activities at the moment…when he does stuff, it’s a finite amount of time, like once per week for 6 weeks, for example. He just isn’t interested in lots of activities right now, and that’s fine with me. I think he’s kind of a homebody like we are.

    I expect this to change as he gets older. But I am still very good at saying NO to loads of things. I just like my quiet time.

  23. 24
    Lindsay says

    Good for you for saying “no”! I agree that it does not make you lazy, but it shows that you value how you spend your free time. You will never regret spending time with your family, but saying “yes” to some activity or commitment out of politeness may result in regret. I too have lots of free time and am rarely “busy” and that’s the way I like it! I’m sure it will all change when we start our family, so for now I plan on enjoying it :)

  24. 25
    Tina says

    So many of my friends and family have so much going on-them & their kids-I don’t know how (or why) they do it! My older son is 17 and he pretty much schedules his own time now, but my younger ones are 9 and they get 1 activity per season pretty much. I like that they have plenty of free time to relax after school & on weekends to create their own fun. My husband and I also don’t have lots of commitments. We have our jobs & I have the blog & that’s about it. The rest of our time is unscheduled, go with flow & spontaneous and it works just great for us!

  25. 26
    Dawn says

    Thanks for this post, I needed to read this today. One problem I have is telling myself no. I come up with huge expectations and long To-Do Lists. My great plans of home renovation projects end up with a tired and stressed out Mom which isn’t fun for anyone.

  26. 27
    Living the Balanced Life says

    Laura,
    Last year, when I was working full time, I always would answer with BUSY when people asked me what I’d been up to. SInce leaving my job due to a mental meltdown, now I spend time reading, writing, relaxing, exercising, or in prayer. It seems odd when people ask me what I am doing now. I feel like I ought to make something up. It seems as if I am not DOING enough, by this crzy culture’s standards.
    I am not lazy and neither are you. Do what feels right for you and your family. That is what we all need to do.
    Bernice
    Figuring out the latest Facebook changes

  27. 28
    Stacey says

    Thank you for sharing this!!! I know this is true. Some people seem to thrive on always doing something, and that’s okay if it works for them. Not I though, I’ve also learned that hard way. It’s not worth it!

  28. 29
    Alex Mathias says

    What a great post!

    There are a lot of people out there who like to pretend they can do it all. As a Mom to a toddler, I’ve come to realize that I can’t. And what has taken me a little longer to realize, is that I don’t want to either!

  29. 30
    Marilyn Holeman says

    Good words, and beautiful pictures, Laura. Thanks for your encouragement.

  30. 32
    Beet says

    Learning to say no can be such a hard thing to do! And I don’t think it makes us lazy at all, it makes us focused and prioritized!!

  31. 33
    katzien says

    Saying ‘no’ to others is really saying ‘yes’ to yourself. Once you volunteer for something and do a great job at it, word gets out and more requests for help come your way. I haven’t totally let go of neighborhood association and community activites and commitments, but I’m letting go of things I have been doing for a while. It’s someone else’s turn to step up to the challenge. The group I have a passion for, whose park improvement cause I believe in, will continue to get my time and energy. ;-) Great post Laura!

  32. 34
    The Bearded Iris says

    Wow – very thought provoking. I never realized it before but I always answer “busy” when people ask how I am. How ridiculous! I’m only so busy because I am making poor choices and not guarding my time like there is no tomorrow. Thanks Laura… totally what I needed to read today.

  33. 35
    Mary says

    Thanks for this! I totally agree with you! I really enjoy your blog and I think I’ll enjoy it more now. :)

    (I liked this post so much I linked to it from my blog.)

  34. 36
    Karen Joyce says

    Yes, this is where I am now~ removing things that are truly unnecessary from my schedule. With being a single mom of a handicapped preteen and working 6 days/ week, I have enough on my plate with just Cub Scout basics. I do Not need to volunteer for anything else…
    And… I am working at not volunteering anymore.
    It’s a good feeling to not take on any more projects than I am already committed to, and to begin dropping projects as their season ends :)

  35. 37
    Megan says

    It is refreshing to get an affirmation of this practice that I also embrace.

    It is important to know how to say no.

    Guarding your family time is just putting family first.

    I think if people thought about it, they would understand and not be hurt, then again, lots of people don’t seem to get this simple idea.

    Thank you for such a great post. I’ve only been here two weeks and am really enjoying your posts.

  36. 38
    Stephanie says

    As a mom of 5 I find that I’m busy enough with our family and don’t need a lot of outside activities. Our children are 8,7,4,2, and 1, so my oldest 3 have started playing sports but we have limited to one sport. They all like soccer so that is it. We love having dinner together everynight and just hagging out at home. I don’t think kids need so many activities and be so busy every weekend that they don’t have time to be just kids. Thanks for this post.

  37. 39
    Lori says

    Hello. Firstly I would like to thank you for mentioning God and your time with Him. That is very important to me and lately it seems as if I am doing more with life and less with God. I am just so busy and I never get to relax, and even if I did, I wouldn’t know how.

    Recently I did a Life Balance activity at school. I am ashamed to admit, but I only spend 12% of my time each week with my family, which would tally up to about 16.8 hours a week. I feel like I do not know how to gain balance of my life. I have tried a home notebook, a planner, a centeral calendar, color coding, labeling, storage solutions, and on and on. I was so overwhelmed that I gave up and now I feel as if, like you said, my life is out of whack because my home is. I have even felt like hiring someone to help me with organizing.

    I do have to mention, however, that my husband is an awesome person. He does “women things” everyday around the house since I don’t have as much time as he does. I guess I just need to know where to begin here on your site and slowly work through steps that work for me, because you are right; there are no right or wrong answers and for my life to be effective, then all that matters to me is what works for me.

    Thanks!

    Lori

  38. 40
    Krista says

    Hi, I am enjoying looking at your site. We have some major organizing to do and want to get started ASAP, when we have a chance. I like what you are saying here about saying no. I have been in and enjoyed a time in my life like that. Hopefully it will come again some day. Right now our family is in a very busy stage. About a year ago my husband and I realized that our kids needed some serious help learning to socialize. That’s such a psychological word that I would rather not use it, but what else can I say? Our kids were at the point where they were getting picked on regularly because they were just too shy and tended to withdraw. They hadn’t learned to reach out, communicate, trust…We have tried this and that, but for now sports is the best thing we’ve got going. And suddenly we are incredibly busy. We are getting some good results – I see some hope! But holy cow. We aren’t used to this. And it is multiplied by six, going on seven children. We are just coming to the end of little league season and we have 5 players on 5 different teams. It is truly almost impossible to manage. But seeing my daughter smile and make friends and begin to enjoy herself with others, gain some confidence…. Of course it is worth it. But I just never imagined we would be doing anything like this… life is full of surprises. Enjoy those times when you can say no! I think we will gradually get back there some day. :)

  39. 41
    Mamosa says

    I couldn’t agree more! I love our church. It has a very active outreach ministry, which of course requires many workers. The sermons are frequently used to expound the on the importance of service to others. I used to struggle a lot with misguided guilt, until I had an undeniable confirmation (from a famous Christian author) that my home IS my ministry in this season of my life. We use every day to its fullest here in our home, sometimes if that means just spending time together enjoying games or books. Time is such a valuable gift that we give our children. My children have expressed appreciation that I have invested time in their lives. We do without a lot, but so be it. To everything, there is a season.

  40. 42
    Angelica says

    I think you are doing a great job there Laura. Saying no is probably one of the hardest things in life to do but most people don’t admit that. You should be prowd of yourself that you have the courage to say NO. I think in your situation a lot of people are trying to fit you into the “busy crowd”. At the end of the day, it is all about feeling comfortable with what you are doing and not for others.

  41. 43
    Jackie Lee says

    This really provided me with a moment to stop and think. I started getting “sign up for sports” papers when my kiddo was just 3. THREE. I quickly said no at 3, but then 4 and 5 came along and I started wondering if I wasn’t just being lazy, not wanting to drag her all over Kansas every Saturday morning… oh yeah, and practice 3 times a week.

    I still haven’t said yes to team sports… but have let her decide the things she’s interested in, like dance class, and swim lessons. But it would have been so easy to just stick her in activities because the sheet came home and I felt like I “should” because everyone else was doing it.

    During the last month of school one of her teachers was telling me all the things they had to do with all their kids during the week, literally 2 or 3 things every single night. When do you actually get to spend time with your family?

    Thanks Laura…

  42. 44
    J says

    Wow this is a blessing and a half, thank you so much for sharing your wisdom, God bless you and your family and again thank you as a young women its amazing seeing women who know that having a being a wife mother and home maker is a role that is given by God should be guarded. Love it and love your posts on getting organized trying to put them into practice. God bless you, have no idea how much of a blessing this is (I gasped then jumped up and down when I found your website)

  43. 45
    J says

    Wow this is a blessing and a half, thank you so much for sharing your wisdom, God bless you and your family and again thank you as a young women its amazing seeing women who know that having a being a wife mother and home maker is a role that is given by God should be guarded. Love it and love your posts on getting organized trying to put them into practice. God bless you, have no idea how much of a blessing this is (I gasped then jumped up and down when I found your website)

  44. 46
    Trese says

    You are making memories that will last a lifetime. You are wise beyond your years. Enjoy! …from a MiMi to three precious grandbabies.

  45. 47
    Holly says

    GREAT post! I think the idea that it makes you lazy is just silly, and anyone who would hint at that is silly. I myself choose somewhere in the middle. We’re not scheduled to the gills, but we do have quite a few things to keep us busy, because that is the way we like it! We enjoy being on the go and staying busy, but at the same time, my kids are young (5 and 3), and I am aware of how easily they can get totally worn out, so except for those rare weeks during super busy times (holidays, end of school, etc), I always make sure we have 2-3 nights at home during the week.

    I think every family is different, and they have to do what works for them. This works for us (and it’s what we like), but I have to admit, I am GREATLY helped by the fact that I have no problem whatsoever saying “no.” So if things start to pile up, I have no qualms about screeching to a halt and refusing anything else on our plates.

    Thanks for your thoughts!

    • 47.1
      Alba says

      Woooohoo to you Holly!
      It seems to me that a lot of the parents involved in sports/activities with their children use it as THEIR (the parent’s) social time!

  46. 48
    Emma McCreary says

    I call myself, “unbusy”. When I go to schedule a time with someone, I usually say hey, you pick a time, because I’m free most of the time. Most people seem to be over-scheduled. I can’t live that way.

    I have also wondered if that makes me lazy. But I have worked hard to create a business so I can have a lot of of unscheduled time, so I don’t see how that is lazy. I just have a strong preference and put a priority on not being busy. I like to have time to be creative, to write, to work on projects, and to just relax. What is life for anyway?

  47. 49
    Raelene says

    Wonderful article. I have very recently starting saying No. Last year I over committed and it was extremely stressful for myself and my family. I promised them that I would never do it again. Whenever anything comes home from school that requests volunteers, I ask my husband to throw it out before I see it, because we both know I’ll sign up for it even if I don’t have the time.

  48. 50
    Jennifer says

    What a fantastic post. I would never see someone making the conscious decision to slow down and put their family first as lazy. I see you as a woman who has her guiding values and is living by them without the undue influence of others. Good for you! I just wrote a post the other day on the Power of No and you have epitomized that here. Thank you for sharing.

  49. 51
    Julie says

    Well said. So happy that I stumbled upon your blog, with this post you have articulated my own personal thoughts and reasons behind my choices better than I have been able to lately. Thank you so much!!

  50. 52
    Jesslyn says

    Hi Laura,
    Thanks for the great post! I absolutely agree. Everyone has only 24 hours. there is only so much we can do a day. Hence, our limited time can only be dedicated to things which we feel are priority. there will be times when others feel hurt when we say decline their request, however, they will have to understand that everyone has their priority in life. And everyone is responsible for their life.

  51. 53
    Tammy says

    For the first time in at least 20 years, I can say no, I’m not busy, and I love it! I’ve always gone in cycles of overcommitting myself, and then regretting it later, and getting burned out.
    My youngest is a teen now, but I’m in a season where I’m able to be a stay at home Mom who works part time as a crossing guard for a little “coffee money”. I am a Grandma to two adorable little grandsons and a granddaughter is due Sept. 28th. It is important to me to be here not only for my children, but now for my Grandchildren.
    I’m finally pursuing my own dream of writing, and have really been working on decluttering & organizing our home (due to years of busyness). It’s important to me that our house feels like a home.
    Many have not understood as I have said no, and let go of things, but those who matter to me understand, and that’s what counts. I’m done trying to live up to others expectations, trying to find my value, or feel significant by volunteering and receiving recognition.
    Great post! I definitely don’t think you or any of us are lazy, we just have our priorities in order. :)
    Blessings!

  52. 54
    Gael says

    As a Navy wife who has supported deployments and mother of 3 (1 with dual disabilities requiring extensive medical care), I have learned to say, “no”. I am busy and often facing paperwork mountains just to keep our family functioning. I play piano at church and have resigned other volunteer work. However, I have found it very rewarding to find those opportunities to serve others, to say, “yes” to watching a friend’s disabled child while the mother attended to her medical needs or to give someone a ride. While I have withdrawn from regularly scheduled commitments other than church and medical, being open to helping as needed is a great blessing in my own life. When we serve others, we are not dwelling on our own challenges.

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