The Art of Saying No & Why I’m a Hot Mess


“Hi! My name is Kelli, I am the mother of 2 and I have a problem. I can’t say no. To anything. Ever.”

Okay, well maybe that’s a bit of an over dramatization, but I do wish it was farther from the truth. All my life I have been a doer. No matter what, I do. Do. Do. Do. And then do some more.

Couple this with the fact I am a people-pleaser and it equates to me being a hot mess. I am stretched thin and scatter brained most of the time. This Type-A got it all together mom with her color-coded calendar is dropping the ball on life.

My husband literally added himself to my planner the other day in order to get my attention. And that my friends is not OK, and not just because he used the wrong color pen – although it did make my eye twitch.

Missing Moments In All The Yeses

I’m missing moments in this life that are fleeting, all because I can’t say NO to the extras. I can’t muster the conviction to say N-O to the things that pull me away from what truly fulfills me and gives me purpose – my children, my husband, my family, my friends.

Don’t get me wrong here, I do and I please, because in my heart I genuinely want to do what is asked of me and make others around me happy. However, I have realized, that in saying yes to all the things, I am losing myself. The personal gratification I “should” be getting is turning into resentment and the heart that was called to say yes in the first place is maxed out. With every yes, what I didn’t understand was that I was also saying no. No to being fully present. No to minimizing stress. No to playing play-doh with my kids. No to being the wife, mom, friend, sister, daughter that I need to be.

Between being a work-at-home-mom, wife to a hubby who is gone 14 days out of every month, PTA executive board member, and the list goes on, to say I am stretched thin is an understatement. But yet, I wrote the sentence. The long-winded, never ending run on sentence of yes after yes after yes. When in reality what I truly needed was a much shorter statement. One that would allow me to pause and enjoy all those things slipping past me between the abundant yeses: a simple No. Period.

In my rampant yes-yes-yes-ing, I said no, without intending to, to rest, to peace, to groundedness, to listening, to deep and slow connection, built over years instead of moments.
– Shauna Niequist, Present Over Perfect
(If you haven’t read Present Over Perfect and this post has you nodding in agreement, please get a copy. I wouldn’t be able to write this post without pouring over every page of Shauna’s book. It’s life-changing.) 

Finding The Right Nos

For a long time I convinced myself it was a capacity issue. I just needed to learn to do things faster, more efficient, cut a few corners. But every corner I cut only chipped away at who I was and left me feeling icky. I might have been able to check all the things off my list, but I wasn’t doing them justice. How could I? There is only so much of me to give, and only so many yeses I should have been saying. 

I then worried I would say no to the wrong thing. As if that is possible, but it all makes sense in my head! How do I know what should be yeses and what should be nos? How would I ever make that decision? This is why it’s just easier to say yes in the first place right?!

A wise, wise mama-friend of mine gave me very sound advice. If what you are saying YES to gets you closer to what you love (i.e. your children, your husband, your faith, your life passions, your giftings) then by all means do it! If it doesn’t then the answer is NO. It is the ONLY answer in order to embrace and make room for your YESES.

It is actually liberating if you think about it. There is no right or wrong answer, so long as it’s YOUR answer. The answer that YOU decide, whether that’s a yes or a no.

So, as I cut out 250 hearts for the Valentine’s Day Dance at my son’s school and am cursing at myself under my breath for my inability to just say NO, I realize this should have been a NO. Next time, it will be a NO. It has to be.

Are you a YES person? How have you overcome it? What was your first NO?

Contributing Author

About {Kelli}

Kelli is the Marketing & Web Services Director for City Moms Blog Network. She assists our Sister Sites in developing their online business, provides ongoing support for current sites as well as develops and facilitates CMBN marketing initiatives. Kelli is a Nebraska native, living outside of Chicago. She is married to Garrett, mommy to Dempsey (March 2011) and Ellis (December 2013). She loves getting her fitness on, watching a good movie, meal planning and color-coding her calendar! Colored sticky notes, a great pair of boots and tootsie rolls are on her list of favorite things!

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