It's OK to say no. That's right -- you read that correctly.
It's probably been quite a while since you last thought about putting yourself first. It may have been years since you put your needs before the needs of others. Balancing parenthood with caring for the elder generation, on top of maintaining a household and working, doesn't leave a lot of time to rest. Then add in volunteering, committees, and other obligations to the mix, and that means the few hours of sleep you manage at night is all the "me time" you may get.
Four Self-Validating Affirmations You Need Right Now
You may think it's unacceptable to complain about your life. Children of aging parents who are raising children of their own often feel this way. It may seem irresponsible -- even cruel -- to wish you had more time to yourself. But losing your sense of self is more irresponsible than saying that dreaded two-letter word "no" once in a while.
Sometimes all a person needs to get through the day is a little well earned validation. Read on to rid yourself of the guilt you've felt for all those days, weeks, months or even years because you wanted to say no, you wanted to admit you were under too much pressure, you needed help, or you felt like you were less than the perfect adult society expects you to be.
1. It's OK to Say No
When a friend calls out of the blue to ask for your help with a project, but you simply don't have time without completely stretching yourself thin: just say no. When your brother calls asking if you can take Mom to her doctor's appointment this week because he had unexpected plans come up, but you were really looking forward to having lunch alone with your spouse: it's perfectly OK to decline. Your wants, needs, plans, and desires are just as important as those belonging to others. Whether you feel obligated to say yes, you don't have a good excuse to refuse, or your reason for saying no is simply because you don't feel like doing the task that has been asked of you -- it's OK to stick up for yourself.
2. It's OK to Admit You're Stressed Out
When you are emotionally, physically, and even financially responsible for multiple generations, stress is going to happen. It may seem that part of this job description includes being a "solid rock showing no signs of wear," but this expectation isn't unfair. Being under pressure of this nature would make even the most infallible person quake. It's OK to admit that life is stressing you out.
3. It's OK to Ask for Help
Although you may feel like you're expected to be a superhero, it's OK to require a sidekick's assistance. Asking your spouse, siblings, and even close friends to help you carry the weight of your life is completely acceptable -- that's what friends and family are for. When you ask for help, you're not being selfish, just human.
4. It's OK to Be Less Than Perfect
Not only is it human to require help once in a while, but it's also human to be less than perfect. People sometimes forget to write down important dates and times, leave one or two items off the grocery list, or accidentally leave wet laundry in the washer overnight. Mistakes happen -- and when you are the one responsible for parents, children, tasks at work, and the smooth running of an entire household, they're bound to happen. It's OK to be on the bottom half of the infallibility charts once in a while.