Say “No” to Say “Yes” to Your Family

Say No To A Few Plans & Spend More Time With Family This Holiday Season

Say “no” to being overextended and “yes” to the time that truly matters with family.


It took me a long time to learn that saying “no” isn’t a terrible thing. It’s a critical part of knowing what you want and planning your life accordingly.

When I became a mom, I got a crash course in learning to say “no.” It was against all of my tendencies. As the youngest child of the family and an admitted people-pleaser, saying no wasn’t exactly in my wheelhouse. I was raised in a “yes” culture where you consistently go the extra mile for others, even if it meant more work or headaches for you.

You get the picture. Saying “yes” can become a reflex of sorts, especially when dealing with friends and family. But what about when saying “no” actually means you’re saying “yes?”

“No, I don’t think we can make it this year,” means you’re saying yes to family, to having more freedom to choose your schedule and having more fun without over-committing.

When “No” Means “Yes” for the Holidays
The holidays are a perfect time to practice saying “no” for the sake of your family and your sanity. Why? Well, there are far too many “yes” opportunities in the fall months – so many that you’ll find yourself overbooked, double-booked and out of time for the real life part of your life.

If you find yourself in need of saying “no” this month, you’re not alone. What if the neighbour is having a holiday party and you just want a quiet night at home, decorating gingerbread houses?

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Here are some tried and true ways to say “yes” to the things that truly matter, while letting everyone else down with care.

Plan. Plan. Plan.
Whether you’re big on planning or not, ‘tis the season to get with the planning program. Now more than ever, planning your life and your family’s life is crucial to keeping your head on. Track the number of parties you’re attending and estimate all of the events in between to help gauge a holistic view of your life commitments. I’ve found that sticking to a plan is the very best way to get quality time with the family without feeling utterly overextended by the time you’re all together. Planning fun activities with your kids is one way to spend your holidays. Read interesting ways to bond with your kids even with a busy schedule.

Spread the Love
Use a calendar, a planner or your phone – anything that will show you the month’s commitments in one fell swoop will do. If you see that you have two parties the second week of December and nothing booked the third week, try moving that tentative holiday play date to the third week. It helps to look at these things ahead of time and not wait until the week of. Spreading out your obligations for the month will help your family keep up their stamina and leave more energy for each other.

Give the Best You
If mid-month rolls around and you’re up to your ears in parties, decorating and two kids are sick, roll back your monthly plan. You’re in charge here. Politely decline new invites and gracefully bow out of any current commitments that aren’t going to work. Just remember to preserve your best self for your family when it truly counts. So ditch the guilt, and be honest with yourself about what you and your family can agree to doing.

Keep it Tentative
If the overall picture of your holiday season looks pretty tame, pause before overcommitting. I know, it’s hard – you want to say “yes.” But there will be unexpected twists and turns this month, you can count on it. A “tentative yes” is a perfectly reasonable response. Keeping hosts’ expectations low will payoff when you’re able to make the party at the last minute, instead of letting her down when a “yes” becomes a “no.”

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