Through my 20-plus years of mothering, it seems that the many abilities needed to keep a home moving smoothly are somewhat of a learned art. I share a few that I’ve personally learned along the way and that may work for you.
The art of saying no. This can be a tricky yet daily thing. To help eliminate the knee-jerk “yes,” or more typically “no” response, I’ve tried using a rating system. In a teaching moment, perhaps help children understand what’s considered urgent, important and needed soon. For example, urgent relates to blood, plugged toilets or someone at the door. Whereas a lost action figure — while important — does not rate an urgent response when mom is changing a particularly messy diaper.
Saying no to other women is a little more delicate. But it can be done if we go back to our core values and what is right for us and our families. A great experience with this is from “My Answer is No, If That’s Okay With You,” by Nanette Gartrell. She shares an experience of a working mom who was asked by a prominent congresswoman to help on a campaign.
The mother said she wasn’t sure helping would be best for her young son. The congresswoman continued trying to persuade her, saying the son would love it and the new places with fun stimulation, etc. But the mother felt hesitant and then had an epiphany: she realized that both women had an agenda, but her son was not on the congresswoman’s agenda. So, this mother graciously but clearly declined and felt peaceful about her choice.
The art of asking. As women, we are generally hesitant about asking for what we want, whether it’s help with a car pool, child concerns or a forgotten item for dinner. Often that’s because we think it’s an all or nothing situation, which it’s typically not. We can be what I call, “kindly candid.” Remember that a problem is basically something to be solved. Share the situation and what you need, and ask if the person can possibly help. If you keep it from becoming an “I’m a victim” or “You must rescue me” feeling, most people are happy to help if they can.
The art of being present. As life ramps up, it’s easy to go with the acceleration rather than push back and be present. One way to get it back is to look into your child’s eyes, and I mean really look. Children yearn to be seen and heard, and when you take a moment to feel who they are, love is more readily felt.
Add to that, if you can, a compliment or positive thought. It helps not only you but the other person feel the moment more fully. The other day I was on a date night with my son. As we talked, laughed and shared book favorites, I turned to him and simply said, “I love being with you.” An energy passed between us that was sweet and fun, a keeper moment for me at least.
As mothers, these life skills of saying no, asking and being present are wonderful parts of who we are and what we learn in our motherhood journey.
For a more enhanced and extended discussion on this topic, view my segment on “Studio 5 with Brooke Walker,” at 1 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 8, or found on www.conniesokol.com.
Connie Sokol is an author, presenter, TV contributor and mother of seven. Contact her at www.conniesokol.com.