One of the things mompreneurs struggle with is saying, “No.” It’s never enough to just say it — we feel the need to explain (in great detail), to justify (with a plausible cover story), to apologize (so as to not hurt anyone’s feelings). Even when the request is an absurd imposition, requiring an unreasonable commitment of resources on our part, we STILL try to avoid hurting the other person’s feelings by coming up with reasons why.
Repeat after me, “No.”
Say it again, “No!”
Now with a little more oomph, “NO!”
There is no need for anything else. You don’t owe the asker anything more than that as a response. Just say, “No” and leave it at that! If you must, you can try the more polite version, “No, I’m sorry” or “Unfortunately, I have to say no” or whatever your grandmother taught you was the right way to politely refuse. But nothing more than that is necessary. And definitely nothing that implies you wish you could.
Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that you need to justify your reasons for saying, “No.” As the title says, no is a complete sentence. If you don’t have the time, don’t want to do it, or don’t think it’s a good fit, just say, “No.” You have the right to refuse for no other reason than it’s Thursday. Rambling on and on in an attempt to justify yourself only gives the other person an opportunity to negotiate a “Yes” by finding ways around your objections. If you mean no, just say it and be done with it.
Enforce your boundaries by making it impossible for others to work around them by simply being unavailable. Turn off your cell phone (or even better, don’t give it out to people who you don’t want to have 24/7 access to you), and stop checking email and social media threads during your downtime. That being said, do manage expectations by giving people fair warning so they won’t be disappointed at not reaching you.
And STOP making exceptions to your own rules. If you say you don’t do last-minute projects or rush requests, then don’t do them…EVER. It’s hard for people to learn to respect your rules when you never stick to them yourself. As much as we say these are our boundaries, they are what we make them through action. Even the small things, like answering email or responding to voicemails over the weekend, teaches others our expectations.