Guess what?

It’s Ok to say no.

I don’t know about you but sometimes I get caught up in obligations and responsibilities.

Trapped.

Boxed in.

Guilted into a corner!

I’m guessing you probably feel the same way too, if you are reading this post.

Personally, I’ve been consciously TRYing to scale back.  Cut the fat.  Get rid of the things that make the week, day, life stressful.

To be able to focus . . . live . . .BREATHE.

Have I accomplished this. Ummm NO.

Heck no.

Not yet.  But I’m definitely tipping my way towards improvement.

Let me share a little story about camping trips, last year versus this year to help paint the picture:

Last year, the girls had an overnight Zoo camping experience. It was an hour away. It sounded great on paper.

Everyone was going.

So we should too, right?

Staying at zoo overnight sounds so cool. . . right?

But in the back of my mind I kept thinking . . . isn’t 5 a little young for this?

Where will we sleep?

Now what will we do in the zoo after dark when it’s bedtime exactly?

But I let my guilt sign that permission slip. (*Read the Disclaimers at the end of this post if you want some extra giggles.)

We headed out of state to the zoo camping trip, arriving just ahead of a severe thunderstorm. I went to the closest Dollar General (one my faves) to get garbage bags.

I thought I was well prepared with our wagon and brand new air mattress but,  I didn’t know there was going to be a monsoon!

As we met our group at the gate huddled under umbrellas, the girl happily hugged her buddies.

I secured the wagon and tried to adjust my umbrella and turned to see my child running away, sprinting up the hill in the darkness!

She was at the front of the entourage with the leaders and couldn’t hear me yelling her name through the storm. I, too, began to run with the wagon tow.

This was not a parents-tag-along trip.

It was a take-care-of-your-own-kid kind of situation.

I feared that the adults ahead weren’t aware of her presence and the girl would soon be lost in the dark, flooding zoo.

As I picked up the pace to get up the hill, the wagon flipped over.

All our bedding and clothes trash bags in a pool of water.

The umbrella turned inside out like Mary Poppins. My winter coat and boots were soaked completely.

This was five minutes in. Yawl.

I couldn’t see my child!!!!!!!!! AT THE ZOO! AFTER DARK IN A THUNDERSTORM!!!!!

I’m running again, dragging the wet unwilling wagon to the back of the zoo, in a panic to find my child!

Finally, as the group neared the aquarium I spot her. I ditch the wagon and run up and pull her close.

“No running off Missy!!! Mommy has to watch you!”

The crazy part is she had never ran off ever in her life (prior to this).

Her sweatery winter hat . . . soaked. Her coat and boots . . . soaked. And our bags are once again in a puddle.

We make our way into the aquarium and set up our air mattress.

The girl is asking to put on her PJs as the guides are telling us “It’s time to head to the first activity!”

30 minutes in and I’m completely over it.

The activities continued inside and outside, with the rain pouring.

The final night activity was the cougars’ compound.

The guide kept flashing his light pen into the cougar’s eyes to “show the kids nocturnal animals.”

The cougar effortlessly hopped to the top of the fake cliff, annoyed by the light, and glaring down at us.

I thought we are about to be on the news. If he could jump to the top of the compound, couldn’t he jump one more foot over that fence?!

Children and dumb parents eaten at the zoo, news at 5!

 

Can you relate?

I’m sure you have your own stories and moments where you’ve reflected and said …

Why didn’t I say no?

Why did I sign up for this?

What the heck am I doing here?

Sometimes we have choices in these matters and sometimes we don’t. But when we do…

Can I get an Amen?!

 

So when a two night camping trip presented itself a year later…

I said “No.”

Flat out.

One night was too much, two most definitely would be . . . in the woods, the first month of school.

The girl just got back to school after her back-to-school bug.

It was the weekend before my first work travel trip in a year. I had so much to prep to do to get everyone and everything in order before I headed out of town.

No.

Hard pass.

I didn’t want to go.

The girl wasn’t even that interested in going.

And guess what?

We didn’t have to.

 

Would my child be any less of Girl Scout?

Nope.

There will be lots of other activities she can attend.

 

Would we spend quality time together (before Mommy headed out of town) from the comfort our home?

Yes!

 

Not attending, didn’t decrease my appreciation for the troop leaders for planning a nice experience for the girls.

But outside of the ‘Oh we should go because everyone else is going’ . . . why should we go?

 

I got anxiety just watching the county alert for a new mosquito virus.

Stay indoors the weatherman advised. One deadly case has been reported.

 

Read the itinerary . . . “Get to the campsite by five (after-school) and make sure your child is well-fed. Don’t bring any food or snacks.”

Me = Stressed out hangry kid

My kid is a snacker.

 

Activities will begin outside at 7; the girl’s bedtime.

Lord no! The ZOO! I can’t forget the zoo!

The girl was rolling around on the floor by 9 PM, see Exhibit A.

 

The schedule was packed well into the night with the mosquitos.

Just shoot me out back. PLEASE!

If we survive the mosquitos, I would have to sleep in a camping bunk bed with the girls and other moms. I taught elementary school for 15 years.  I don’t want to see anybody besides my husband after 8 pm. Okay?

 

Now another Mom surely read that same camping invitation with joy and excitement.

Their family loves to camp and they can pitch a tent, make a fire,  and s’mores in 20 minutes.

Their kid loves to stay up late on the weekend and isn’t an accident prone, whiney brat after 8 pm. Then she and her child must GO!

Yes!  It creates joy for them so they should say YES!!!! Live it up at the campground.

I told you these two, too long stories my friend to say… you don’t just have to say yes because everyone else is. You don’t have to say yes because everyone expects you to; you can consider some things. I think it boils down to these few things:

Know thyself.

Know thy spouse.

Know thy child.

Know thy household.

Please don’t get me wrong.

Be open to be new experiences. Try something new.

Experience life!

But if you are feeling a certain kind of way out the gate, go with that.

Don’t do things out of guilt or obligation.

Do things because you want to and it FITS you and your family.  If it doesn’t then, give yourself permission to say no.

I’d love to know if this post resonated with you.

What have you said no to? What do you have on the docket that you will you say no to?  (NO is the new YES. 🙂

*

Disclaimer 1: Camping is a fun hobby for many people.  For me camping is not a pleasant experience.  I’m more of a glamper.  I’ll take a nice rv with a fridge for snacks and my almond coffee creamer. If we can park said RV and make a ton of stops at the best restaurants, shops, and beaches. That’s my kind of camping.  I camp best at the Westin, Hotel Intercontinental, and all-inclusive resorts. We all know that’s not camping.  I know thyself.
Disclaimer 2: We took the 5th graders on a camping trip when I was teaching. One of my teaching partners went down with their flu the night before. Then, one of my students came on the trip and his TAMIFLU meds!  “My mom told me to make sure I take my medicine.” (FOR REAL! C’mon Mom!)  Needless to say, by noon most of my kids were freezing, sweating, and looking like beached fish. By dusk, they were all sick and quarantined with me until their parents picked them up. By morning I thought for sure I was dying of the Bubonic Plague. The last teaching partner standing already had the flu.  The flu had ran through her class the week before.  Poor teamie, she was freaking out because now she was the only healthy teacher chaperone for three classes of fifth graders. The hubs, then fiancé drove up to get me at the crack of dawn.
Disclaimer 3: My first camping trip chaperoning, the glass carafe to the coffee maker fell and shattered into a thousand pieces. We dumped the ground coffee into something else and brewed coffee straight into the can out of desperation.  Pouring the coffee out that hot tin can  is a whole other story.   I thought to myself- chaperoning 120 kids without coffee in the wilderness without caffeine at 5 am is just plain terrible.