5 Reasons Saying No Will Make #momlife Better

What if saying "no" could actually make you a happier mama?

5 Reasons Saying No Will Make #momlife Better

Saying “yes” is very important. It can mean the difference between accomplishing something difficult or sitting it out and possibly missing an opportunity. It means putting positive energy out into the world and taking life by the horns. Saying “yes” is fantastic, and you should practice it regularly. But what about when you say “yes” too much?

When we become parents, many aspects of our lives become at risk for set-back and genuine missed opportunities. Over the last 9 years of having children, this fear of missing out prompted me to say “yes” to almost everything. I found myself running several side projects and several businesses, on top of several kids social and academic schedules and my actual life and marriage. By the time I reached the end of 2015, I was burned out. It was time to take some of the load off.


So in 2016, I decided to start saying “no” -- a dramatic life change for me. This gave rise to a couple of small changes that ended up alleviating the daily pressure I was feeling in a big way. So if, like me, you’re guilty of saying “yes” too much, here are 5 simple ways you can begin to say “no.” You may find that saying “no” to even the smallest things can give you more space for more meaningful opportunities and joy.

1. Say No To Overbooking. Is your life full of kids classes and practices and birthday parties? Perhaps, you’re just busy? Remember that it doesn’t have to be that way. In many parts of the world, taking time to do nothing is actually very practiced, not just a concept! One of the first initiatives I made in saying “no” was to free up more of our weekends. I began to decline invitations to birthday parties in favor of time with family and friends; I limited weekend activities as much as possible so that we could have one weekend day to do literally nothing. I realize this will not last forever and as they grow into middle and high school, so will their commitments. But for now, this has been a huge relief.

2. Say No To Rushing. To some extent, we are all guilty of rushing through our day: making lunches, schlepping to school, rushing through work calls, eating quickly… But what if we could choose one thing, and do that one thing slowly, with care, every day? For me, it’s my late morning coffee. I work from home three days a week and usually don’t get to eat or drink anything until after 10 am once I’ve gotten everybody where they need to be. I get home and make an espresso in my 18 year old stove-top espresso maker and get to just stand there for 10 to 15 minutes, doing nothing but putting time into something I know I will enjoy simply because of the care I took in making it.

3. Say No To Whatever Keeps You From Connecting. If you have friends over for dinner, don’t do the dishes until your guests are gone. If you’re working at the school fundraiser, don’t take on every responsibility that comes your way. And if you’re feeling disconnected from your partner, try to just hang. During the week, I usually cook dinner, something I truly enjoy. But I sometimes found myself rushing through the process of cooking and eating because the finish line of getting three kids in bed still seemed so far away. So, instead of spending the rest of the night cleaning, we’ve begun to clean up by clearing everything, quickly rinsing and disposing of all food, and leaving dishes and pans in the sink for the morning. It was a huge breakthrough for our relationship when we realized we could take that extra chore literally off the table, at least for an evening. And now, we get to hang out with each other instead of cleaning up.

4. Say No To Hovering. Sometimes it’s important to have hours where nothing is planned, and the parents aren’t the ones dictating what happens (or doesn’t happen). Let your kids loose on the playground with other kids; let them mess up their room, let them use the paints. Hovering over them or worrying about the mess you’re going to have to clean up can prevent them from having independent and meaningful experiences, which can spark not only true creativity, but also courage and empathy. My youngest son, who comes with me to drop off our older daughters at school, will do things on his own, like get a glass of water or find a book to look at, when I set my daughters up in their classrooms. Though it may be the product of being the third child, I like to think that it’s also because I let him do things by himself.

5. Say no to Limitation. While I think it’s important to say “no” more often, saying “yes” to personal limitation is my huge exception. I know parents who forgo experiences, travel and self-care because it’s just too hard to do it all -- it gets expensive, the kids may freak out; and who knows if they’ll even remember anything, right? But if these things are important to you, then it’s crucial to share them with your kids. After all, if you always worry about the distance, figurative or actual, you’ll never go anywhere. So take the leap to do whatever you love, be it running a marathon, traveling the world or finishing a New York Times crossword puzzle. For me, it’s taking my kids on as many trips as possible so they can experience the people, the food and the beauty of many different countries. The best byproduct of saying “no” to limitations is that your kids will ultimately see your efforts and know that they too can accomplish anything, too.

I felt lost as a new mother, but babywearing helped me find myself again

I wish someone had told me before how special wearing your baby can be, even when you have no idea how to do it.

My first baby and I were alone in our Brooklyn apartment during a particularly cold spring with yet another day of no plans. My husband was back at work after a mere three weeks of parental leave (what a joke!) and all my friends were busy with their childless lives—which kept them too busy to stop by or check in (making me, at times, feel jealous).

It was another day in which I would wait for baby to fall asleep for nap number one so I could shower and get ready to attempt to get out of the house together to do something, anything really, so I wouldn't feel the walls of the apartment close in on me by the time the second nap rolled around. I would pack all the diapers and toys and pacifiers and pump and bottles into a ginormous stroller that was already too heavy to push without a baby in it .

Then I would spend so much time figuring out where we could go with said stroller, because I wanted to avoid places with steps or narrow doors (I couldn't lift the stroller by myself and I was too embarrassed to ask strangers for help—also hi, New Yorkers, please help new moms when you see them huffing and puffing up the subway stairs, okay?). Then I would obsess about the weather, was it too cold to bring the baby out? And by the time I thought I had our adventure planned, the baby would wake up, I would still be in my PJs and it was time to pump yet again.

Slowly, but surely, and mostly thanks to sleep deprivation and isolation, I began to detest this whole new mom life. I've always been a social butterfly. I moved to New York because I craved that non-stop energy the city has and in the years before having my baby I amassed new friends I made through my daily adventures. I would never stop. I would walk everywhere just to take in the scenery and was always on the move.

Now I had this ball and chain attached to me, I thought, that didn't even allow me to make it out of the door to walk the dog. This sucks, I would think regularly, followed by maybe I'm not meant to be a mom after all.

Keep reading Show less

Time-saving formula tips our editors swear by

Less time making bottles, more time snuggling.

As a new parent, it can feel like feeding your baby is a full-time job—with a very demanding nightshift. Add in the additional steps it takes to prepare a bottle of formula and, well… we don't blame you if you're eager to save some time when you can. After all, that means more time for snuggling your baby or practicing your own well-deserved self-care.

Here's the upside: Many, many formula-feeding mamas before you have experienced the same thing, and they've developed some excellent tricks that can help you mix up a bottle in record time. Here are the best time-saving formula tips from editors here at Motherly.

1. Use room temperature water

The top suggestion that came up time and time again was to introduce bottles with room temperature water from the beginning. That way, you can make a bottle whenever you need it without worrying about warming up water—which is a total lifesaver when you have to make a bottle on the go or in the middle of the night.

2. Buy online to save shopping time

You'll need a lot of formula throughout the first year and beyond—so finding a brand like Comforts, which offers high-quality infant formula at lower prices, will help you save a substantial amount of money. Not to mention, you can order online or find the formula on shelves during your standard shopping trip—and that'll save you so much time and effort as well.

3. Pre-measure nighttime bottles

The middle of the night is the last time you'll want to spend precious minutes mixing up a bottle. Instead, our editors suggest measuring out the correct amount of powder formula into a bottle and putting the necessary portion of water on your bedside table. That way, all you have to do is roll over and combine the water and formula in the bottle before feeding your baby. Sounds so much better than hiking all the way to the kitchen and back at 3 am, right?

4. Divide serving sizes for outings

Before leaving the house with your baby, divvy up any portions of formula and water that you may need during your outing. Then, when your baby is hungry, just combine the pre-measured water and powder serving in the bottle. Our editors confirm this is much easier than trying to portion out the right amount of water or formula while riding in the car.

5. Memorize the mental math

Soon enough, you'll be able to prepare a bottle in your sleep. But, especially in the beginning or when increasing your baby's serving, the mental math can take a bit of time. If #mombrain makes it tough to commit the measurements to memory, write up a cheat sheet for yourself or anyone else who will prepare your baby's bottle.

6. Warm up chilled formula with water

If you're the savvy kind of mom who prepares and refrigerates bottles for the day in advance, you'll probably want to bring it up to room temperature before serving. Rather than purchase a bottle warmer, our editors say the old-fashioned method works incredibly well: Just plunge the sealed bottle in a bowl of warm water for a few minutes and—voila!—it's ready to serve.

Another great tip? Shop the Comforts line on to find premium baby products for a fraction of competitors' prices. Or, follow @comfortsforbaby for more information!

This article was sponsored by The Kroger Co. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

Our Partners

It's science: Why your baby stops crying when you stand up

A fascinating study explains why.

When your baby is crying, it feels nearly instinctual to stand up to rock, sway and soothe them. That's because standing up to calm babies is instinctual—driven by centuries of positive feedback from calmed babies, researchers have found.

"Infants under 6 months of age carried by a walking mother immediately stopped voluntary movement and crying and exhibited a rapid heart rate decrease, compared with holding by a sitting mother," say authors of a 2013 study published in Current Biology.

Even more striking: This coordinated set of actions—the mother standing and the baby calming—is observed in other mammal species, too. Using pharmacologic and genetic interventions with mice, the authors say, "We identified strikingly similar responses in mouse pups as defined by immobility and diminished ultrasonic vocalizations and heart rate."

Keep reading Show less