My family was wrapping up a day of bargain hunting at the local outlet mall, and I remembered one more store I wanted to check. I looked at my sons, who were so tired they’d resorted to lying on the clothing racks, and I said, “Just one more stop.” That turned out to be a mistake. Not only did I not find what I wanted, but the skies opened up, soaking us and putting us in traffic that doubled our drive time home. That extra stop cost us big.
Sometimes you can’t avoid extra demands, but there are other extras that wise moms avoid at all costs. In her new book, Sis, Take a Breath, Kirsten Watson makes it clear she doesn’t have room for extra. She has seven kids, so even a little extra is enough to push her over the edge. Whether you have one child or more than a handful, like Kirsten, I think you’ll agree that these are 5 extras you need to say no to.
1. The Extra That Becomes a “Yes And”
Have you ever said yes to something and then realized you are being asked to do more than you signed up for? Kirsten was asked to provide a snack for her son’s class party. She looked through the pantry, found brownie mix, and said yes. Then the teacher asked if the snack could also be Roman Empire themed to fit the lesson. Wait. What?
When we say yes to a request, we should know what is expected of us, and if things change from what we signed up for, it’s within our rights to say no. Individually, these extras are no big deal. But the stress of the “yes and” adds up quickly.
2. The Extra That Distracts
One of my favorite memories with friends was an impromptu dinner party. We ordered pizza, ate off of paper plates, and played Uno. The house wasn’t picked up. We were all in casual clothes. It was a good reminder that get-togethers don’t have to be a show.
Kirsten points out that this extra, a preoccupation with things that are good but not as important as relationships, is like Martha in the Bible. When she gets upset that she’s doing all the work, Jesus tells her the work wasn’t bad, but it was pulling her away from something better—himself. Don’t let internal demands for extra distract you from what’s most important.
3. The Extra That Eliminates Margin
I’m guilty of thinking I can fit one more thing in before we leave the house. Because of this, I’m perpetually three minutes late to everything. I’m learning to give myself more margin, or room around the edges.
As Kirsten packed and prepped for her family to go on a cruise, some of her margin was eliminated when one of her kids knocked another’s tooth out in a pillow fight. Those things happen! But had she taken on another extra before their vacation—one more errand or a yes to a birthday party—there would’ve been no room for error. Set your boundaries and when you’re asked to do extra, remind yourself why you needed that margin in the first place.
4. The Extra That Is Unrealistic
I know a couple that has a date night once a week. Their kids are old enough to stay home alone, so going out doesn’t require the expense of a sitter. While I appreciate the need to invest in my marriage, I can’t pay a sitter four times a month, so this would be an unrealistic extra. In Kirsten’s marriage, she said their date nights are early-bird dinners. That’s realistic. Late nights on the town when you have seven kids are unrealistic.
Other unrealistic extras might be a car you can’t afford, a diet your body can’t handle, or hours at work that tire you out. Saying no to those unrealistic extras communicates your priorities.
5. The Extra You Create
Want some hard truth? Sometimes we’re the extra that needs to hear a no. I love this thought from Kirsten: “I may not be able to choose how I feel, but I get to choose what I do with those feelings. I have a brain and a mouth. Wisdom is using my brain to evaluate and decide before my mouth gets invited to the party.
Our husbands, children, friends, and coworkers weren’t given to us to handle all our needs and feelings. We have to choose carefully what we put on other people. Journaling and praying can keep us from being too extra for the people we love.
What extras do you need to start saying no to?
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