It’s Caroline’s favorite word. Anyone who has a toddler will know exactly what I’m talking about. “Ready to go to daycare?” “No!” “Let’s change your diaper.” “No!” “Please eat just one bite of broccoli.” “No!” “Do you know any words other than ‘no’?” “No!”

She’ll say it all day long to anyone and everyone, without a second of hesitation. It drives me nuts, but I’ve been thinking that I really need to follow her example when it comes to some things. And I think a lot of moms have the same problem. I know I’m not the only one who has way too much on my plate, yet says “yes” to any request that comes my way.  I’ve said “yes” to taking on cases at work that I know I can’t handle alone, getting out of bed to pick up a friend after midnight, seeing emergency patients when I should be racing out of the building to get to daycare on time, taking the on-call beeper early, and the list goes on.

Why is it so hard for us moms to say “no”?  Think about all the things we can do, and yet we can’t say that one little word…

We don’t have to do everything for everyone, although I know firsthand that’s easier said than done.  We already juggle work and kids and relationships and “me time”.  Why are we so quick to say “yes” when we know we’ve already got more going on than we can handle?

Personally, I think it’s the mom guilt that is the problem.  I know that I feel mom guilt for everything, from feeding my kid the occasional Happy Meal to working too many long hours to divorcing her father.  I’m too susceptible to it, I guess, so it transfers over to every aspect of my life.  For example, a coresident asks me, “would you want this surgical case?  I’d rather not take it on.”  I think to myself, me either, this should probably go to a specialist, plus I hate surgery and actually this is the last thing I want to deal with right now, or EVER, and then I smile and take the chart and say “sure, I’ll take care of it.”

And then I want to bang my head against the wall.  Just say no, I tell myself.  Take a cue from your daughter. (And the War on Drugs.)  Just say NO.

Moms, I know I’m not alone on this.  How do you keep from letting requests from other people overload your already spread-too-thin selves?  Are you able to give people the toddler “no” when you know you’ve got too much going on?

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  1. by Shima

    On August 24, 2011 at 7:56 pm

    I have the exact same problem. It’s really hard to say ‘no’ to people. Unless I REALLY can’t take anything on, I will usually say yes to any request.

  2. by Jess

    On August 26, 2011 at 8:56 pm

    My kids barely watch any TV. They would never eat Kraft Mac n Cheese. I always make sure they get a bath. ALL LIES.

  3. by Courtney

    On August 27, 2011 at 5:46 pm

    I think one of my problems is that when I have tried to say no, I then get a guilt trip from the other party. So for me, it’s easier to just say yes.

    I absolutely have issues saying no, especially when it comes to family and friends, but most of all to my daughter.