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The Year of NO: How to Have More Quality Family Time

Birthday parties. (Morning. Noon. Night.)
Soccer games. (Doubleheader)
Homework.
Flag football practice.
Spanish tutor.
Lacrosse games.
School events.

Hurry up, let’s go.

I think the most common words out of my mouth might be, “Hurry up,” “Let’s go,” and “Let’s roll.” I am running a boy business of chaos. I am the Uber. I am the drill sergeant. I am consistently on the run: 3 schedules, 3 groups of friends, 3 schools … you get it. You likely live it.

It’s hurry hurry, get out of the house. Hurry hurry, get out of the car. Hurry hurry, do your homework. Rush rush, it’s time for bed. We over-program and we think it’s great. But my year of yes is about to become the school year of NO.

Kindergarten year we said yes to it all. I didn’t know any different. Yes to every happy hour for moms, yes to every sport, yes to carnival pre-parties, yes to cafeteria duty, you name it.

But while I might have been physically present and highly supportive, I didn’t really see my child. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to abandon all activities, but for us, it’s time to narrow the scope.

Having the guts to say no.

We have friends who say no to everything on Sundays. No practices, no parties, no nothing. No exceptions. They go to church and enjoy a family day every Sunday. And that made me think. What would we cut out? What are our priorities?

Look, I don’t have the guts to clear a full day. But I do want to protect ‘our’ time more. I read this amazing book called Essentialism that basically tells you less is more. If you choose fewer things you can really go deep, focus and make an impact. If your energy is going in all directions, it makes no impact in any direction.

Doing less and getting more out of it.

Thinking about the summer, some of our best days started out with the boys saying, “We’re bored.” The lack of programming led to forts, volcano experiments and ninja warrior courses made out of pillows. Bottom line, the kids got creative. Those days were truly awesome. I didn’t fill their days, it was a play it by ear kinda thing.

I realize cutting back in a world that’s in the constant pursuit of more is going to be like a salmon swimming upstream. It’s going to take some serious self-control. And I know I will fail. But I want to be intentional to carve out time when it’s reasonable. Am I still headed to volunteer at the school? You bet. That’s a priority. Will we still do sports? Yes, just not ALL of them. Are we still going to birthday parties? Of course, just not 3 in one day. The goal is to do less and get more out of it.

As women it’s hard to say no. Saying yes is acceptable. But there is something empowering about NO. I’m going to give it a whirl, and cross my fingers that these aren’t famous last words.

Shelly SlaterAbout Shelly

Shelly Slater has interviewed celebrities from Jimmy Kimmel to Laura Bush, and yet that's not her hardest work. As the mom of three boys, she’s hoping to raise true gentlemen into this ever-changing world. Training for boy-and-mom boot camp by day and throwing dance parties on her bed at night, Shelly loves sleep more than ice cream. Join her in the trial-and-error craziness of raising kids.

Follow Shelly on Instagram @shellyslatertv and on Facebook.

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