It’s okay to say no

It's okay to say no
Written by Kris Bales of Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers.

A few years ago, it was very popular for mom bloggers to write about being the “yes mom.” There were blog posts, Facebook status updates, and Instagram photos capturing those yes mom moments.

I know because I wrote and snapped many of them myself.

Maybe it’s still a thing; I don’t know. In case it isn’t, the gist of it was don’t tell your kids no when you could just as easily say yes.

Yes, we can have ice cream before dinner tonight. Yes, you can jump in the mud puddle. Yes, we can play a board game.

It was a fabulous concept – one whose implementation resulted in some amazing memories with my kids.

However, it’s important to remember that it’s okay to say no, too.

Moms are especially guilty of trying to say yes to all the things, resulting in exhausted, overwhelmed, burned-out women. We’re not just moms. We’re human, too.

We need rest, hobbies, downtime, and white space. If you happen to be an introvert on top of being a mom and a homeschooling parent, you really need that downtime and white space.

So, moms (and dads), it’s okay to say no.

It’s okay to say no to volunteering.

There is a lot of talk in homeschooling circles about volunteer opportunities. I’ve written entire blog posts about them. Volunteering can be a phenomenal opportunity to give back to your community and teach your children the joys of serving others.

It can also be exhausting and overwhelming when the opportunities aren’t chosen judiciously. And, the opportunities can be countless when the people offering them assume that you have an abundance of free time because you’re home all day.

It's okay to say no

When my kids were babies, I worked in the church nursery on Sunday mornings because, other than the one older lady who was there every week, no one except the moms with babies volunteered for nursery duties. Back then I would have loved for someone to snuggle my babies while I recharged for an hour.

Later, it was assumed that because I homeschooled, I would also be the perfect fit to lead children’s church on Sunday mornings. Y’all, after teaching my kids all week, I really had no desire to teach others on Sunday morning, but I didn’t know how to say no back then.

These days, I’ve learned to graciously, but firmly say no to serving in areas that are stress-inducing for me.

(And, now that my kids are grown, I regularly serve in the church nursery because I know those moms of littles appreciate being able to go to church and know that their babies are safe and well-cared-for.)

It’s okay to say no to co-op.

We have homeschooled for 14 years. My kids have never attended an organized co-op. We did have an informal nature study co-op with one family for a few months when the kids were younger, and we’re currently doing a government co-op with two other teens.

But we’ve never done an honest-to-goodness, organized co-op. A friend invited us to join hers the first year we homeschooled, but I declined, saying that I wanted to just spend the first year at home, finding our footing.

We talked about other co-ops a time or two, but none of the kids were ever interested. They seem pretty well-adjusted despite our co-op-less existence.

If joining a co-op meets your family’s needs for social opportunities, learning in a group setting, or tackling academic or elective courses that aren’t feasible at home, go for it! But, don’t join a co-op based on outside pressures or unfounded guilt over something you think your kids are missing.

In my opinion, kids are much better off at home with a stress-free mom than a traveling to a guilt-induced co-op class with a stressed-out, overextended one.

It’s okay to say no to fun outings.

Last Saturday, my daughter asked if I’d take her shopping so she could spend her birthday money. Without the slightest twinge of guilt anywhere in my psyche, I told her no.

You see, Wednesday was spent chauffeuring her to the DMV to take the test to get her learner’s permit (She passed!), running an errand for her older sister, dropping her off for her photography class, picking her up from the class, and running through a drive-thru to get her some food before dropping her off at church for worship team practice.

It's okay to say no

Thursday was spent accompanying my oldest to a doctor’s appointment (that, incidentally, took forever) before coming home to clean house and make cookies for the birthday party that we hosted that evening. In between the cleaning/baking and birthday party hosting, was a trip to a local indoor trampoline park for birthday party fun.

Just for kicks, we also got to sit in stand-still traffic on the way that made us and the majority of the party-goers half an hour late.

Friday was spent grocery shopping and running home to put the groceries away before rushing off to get the kids to our government not-a-co-op. From there, we ran a forgotten item to one of the previous day’s party-goers on the way to take the kids to another birthday party.

(My daughter and her BFF share a birthday, but they have separate parties.)

There were even a couple of my own errands to be run after dropping the kids off.

So, you know what? I didn’t feel the slightest bit guilty about telling my daughter that nothing short of a disaster could convince me to leave the house on Saturday.

(In case you wondered, there were no disasters, and I didn’t leave the house.)

I could give dozens of examples of situations in which it’s okay to say no, but I bet you get the point.

You don’t have to do all of the things. It’s great to be a yes mom, but not to the point that it leaves you stressed-out, burned-out, and unable to care for yourself and your family.

Being a yes mom to saying no – as in, “Yes, I said no to that obligation” – can lead to memory-making family moments, too. Because you can’t make memories when you’re spending all your time doing all the things.

It’s okay to say no.

Is there something you need to say no to this week?

About Kris

Kris Bales is the quirky, Christ-following, painfully honest voice behind Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers. She and her husband of over 25 years are parents to two amazing teens and a homeschool grad. Kris has a pretty serious addiction to sweet tea and Words with Friends. She also seems intent on becoming the crazy cat lady long before she's old and alone.


  1. I’ll be sharing this. So many moms I know don’t know how to say “no” and are always stressed and when out. I, too, ran our church’s children’s ministry. When the time came for me to step down (not that church leadership thought I should), I gladly, happily, joyfully, and without a twinge of guilt handed the reins over to someone else. That season has taught me to be way more careful in saying “yes”.

  2. Andrea Jones says:

    Thank you for the reminder. We have said “no” to co-ops for a few years, too, mainly because they stole some life from our own studies at home rather than meeting a need for a particular class. We were spending so much time and effort keeping up with co-op classes that what we were trying to accomplish at home suffered. And I found out I didn’t really enjoy teaching other people’s children. The hardest “no” is when we are asked to serve in some way, sometimes because people know we are home during the day….babysitting, helping older women clean, working at our church camp, etc…We say “yes” a lot too, but I am finding it really is OK to say “no” and guard our family’s priorities and sanity.

  3. This is so beautiful! I typically say no, but always feel guilty. I am one of those introvert moms and I often just don’t have the space to say yes. So thank you for the permission to continue saying no which is really saying yes to so many other things!!

  4. I love this so much. Actually, I have to confess that I have daydreamed of making a video with all the ways I say NO to my children!

  5. I used to be unable to say “no”, until health issues reared their head and now I must guard my energy carefully. I have an energy budget and it doesn’t pay to go over it and end up out of commission for a week afterwards. I decided to be home with my kids because I want my family to have the best of me, not the rest of me. Honestly, being a wife and homeschooling mom to soon to be 4 kiddos under 8, takes nearly all of my energy. I know that people do not understand my no’s because my illness is not visible yet it is chronic and exhausting, but I’m learning to make my peace with that.

  6. I am with commenter Haven.
    I am a type-A doer and I like to get things done. From everywhere and by everyone we are taught that giving is better than receiving. And I was a giver to no end. Until my health caught up with me and I simply couldn’t go any further. I too have a limited amount of energy I can spend each day and I choose what I spend time on and who I spend time with, carefully. I am still not comfortable saying no when I see an opportunity. Saying no, takes courage and effort sometimes. I say, what more are you going to be able to give if there is no you to give anything because you’ve given out everything you are. We all need to remember to recharge, pause, and say no sometimes so that we can keep going.
    Abbie’s latest post: Language, Logic and Latin Curriculum 2016-17

  7. I’ve found that being precise with my schedule helps some with people thinking I’m always available just because I’m at my house. When people ask what we’re doing, I tell them straight out – “History and art are from 9 to 10 three days a week, and then we do math and spelling …” It seems to clarify that I’m really DOING something and therefore unavailable for random things, so they don’t even ask.
    treen’s latest post: Peter and the Starcatchers

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