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Melissa Schmalenberger, Areavoices blogger, Published February 21 2012

Areavoices: Busy-ness and the power of 'no' ... and 'yes'

I had a conversation with another mother this past weekend. This is a typical conversation that I often have but this time it really struck a cord with me. I was telling her how I could bring food for a team meal but I do not have the time to coordinate the meal. She proceeded to tell me how busy she was. I just listened to her talk. I could have then filled her in on how busy I was. Then it becomes a contest. But what is the point? So I came home and wrote this on my personal facebook page: “Dear fellow women: we need to start to support each other. When we are asked to volunteer to do something and we say we are too busy, we need to respect each other for our word and not try to one up each other in how “busy” our lives are. It is not a contest. Thanks!” Well this comment generated discussion and many “likes”. The reason being that it touched many of us is that we are all busy. Busy is a word I don’t even like. I like the word my friend Kelly uses, she says her life is full.

I would say that 90% of my clients are women. They all have the common theme that they are busy. One of my mission statements for my business is that I want to help my clients find more time to spend with the people they love doing the things they love.

While much of my organizing work appears to be physical, like organizing papers, much of the work is mental. Women are brainwashed at an early age and told that they can do it all. We were told that we can have the successful career, happy kids, a great body, a home from the cover of a magazine and a pet to match. Well guess what, we can have it all, but not by the standards that we think we need to hold ourselves up to. My job when I come into your life is to make your life less “busy”. For some clients it is making sure that the bills get paid on time and creating a system to make it happen. For another client it may be telling her that she doesn’t have to coach both of her kids soccer teams. I would say about half of my clients end up crying at some point during our session. It is because I am giving them permission to not have to be perfect. They have never heard that in their lives, especially from another woman.

I suffered from years of “volunteeritis”. I was the PTA president twice, PTA vice president, I sat on committees, I was room mom, I was a baseball coach (yeah, that one was funny), I baked bars, I worked the book fair. The list goes on and on. But then one day I realized that I wasn’t leading my life. I was so “busy” doing for others that I often wasn’t there for myself and my own family. I didn’t take time to relax and read a book or take a bath. I was too busy. But then I discovered this powerful word called “no”. Saying no freed me of the disease to please. It gave me choices. I now said “yes” to the things I wanted to do. Be a greeter at a play that my son is in…..sign me up! Make two dozen cookies…..I can do that…and if I don’t have time I know of a bakery that I can buy some from that taste just like I made them!

So I would challenge you to stand by your fellow woman and support her when she tells you that she is too busy. Accept her for her word. We are all busy, and some of us can do less with our time than others. Let’s not judge! I however choose to have a full life where I now say yes to the things I want to do!