You probably grew up hearing this slogan. How often does it pop into your head these days? If your first response is, “Never,” or “Almost never,” it’s time to rethink “Just Say No.” As a parent, this phrase should be a readily available resource in your armory of sanity defense. Do not underestimate the need to defend your sanity as your children come into school age.
If you’re a homeschooler with young kids, it’s more than likely you’ll join at least one homeschooling group. This is great and can actually become a valid part of your sanity-defense-arsenal. However, when you’re just starting out, it’s easy to get either over-enthusiastic or over-anxious. Of course you want the group to succeed and meet your expectations. There is a great amount of trust involved with being part of a group. If the parents in the group are not all ready to share responsibility for doing what is necessary for making the group successful, do not take it upon yourself to do it all. Really. Don’t.
As a mom who has been-there-done-that several times over, your organizational skills, your personal drive to provide your kids with top-notch group experiences and your energy level are not enough to get a group past the hurdle of a group of parents who are not as invested as you. If you find yourself in this situation you have two options. Call an impromtu, parents-only meeting to discuss the lack of “stepping-up” during the planning phases and see if you can generate the enthusiasm needed to see the project through to the end. If that doesn’t work or if you aren’t willing to organize such a meeting, seriously consider dropping your level of commitment and/or your level of involvement.
I suggest this, not because I think group activities/co-ops are doomed to fail. Some are great. They key is the right mix of families. If you are the one organizing the bulk of activities for a group who is planning to meet for several consecutive months, you are going to walk away exhausted and unhappy. At the beginning of your involvement with any group, set your own, realistic limits with what you can and cannot accomplish on a weekly basis. Stick to it. If no one else is jumping in to volunteer, consider dropping the group before you commit to taking on two jobs.
If you opt to take on two or more jobs, you can expect three things for sure. One, you’ll be exhausted. Two, you will find yourself holding your kids up to be examples for the other kids. This is unfair to you, them and the other children. Three, you will be pegged as the person who will do whatever it is no one else wants to do. Forever. And. Ever. Amen. If you’re involved with a group of moms with similarly-aged children, you are all on the same learning curve. Do not let yourself be the only one learning. By all means, help each other but do not be the do-all person.
Some of us, I include my self in this group, have a hard time saying “No.” Speaking from experience, this can be disastrous. I was lucky enough to befriend a mom with kids a few years ahead of mine. She noted my frustration and burn out with our homeschool group and suggested I actually practice saying “No,” in front of the mirror every morning. She was not a homeschooler, however, her kids attended a super-competitive private school. She was right. I felt stupid trying out ways to say “no” standing in my bathroom, but it worked. It made me think about why I was constantly volunteering to do things I had no interest in doing. It made me think about how I sounded when I was talking to others. It also prompted me to get a more flattering haircut but, that’s another story.
2015. It’s your year to learn to “Just Say No.”
(Coming soon . . . my article for moms who never say yes.)