A serious case of the Yeses

I suffer from a terrible condition. It’s been with me most of my life, I think it stems from my innate desire to please people. It’s not being able to say no. To anything. From anyone. Actually, strike that, I manage to avoid sex nagging quite well, so there are exceptional circumstances, but most of the time I have difficulty saying no to most requests.

Because of this condition I find my calendar chock a block full of things. If I see a blank space I inevitably fill it because we couldn’t have that could we? I manage to over commit and inevitably let people down along the way and leave myself and other family members exhausted.

Need someone to take minutes at our meeting because no one else has offered? I’ll do it!
Need some help with that thing that no one else wants to help with? I can help you out.
Need to catch up? I’ll come to you. Even though it’s 2 hours away.
Want me to bring something when we catch up? OF COURSE YOU DO.

Of course I can.

After a particularly busy period and too many yeses to too many people I am exhausted. So are the girls. So is Rob. It’s time to start saying no and think about myself and our needs for a change. It’s not going to be easy, particularly given the crazy time of the year, but I’m going to have a crack. Last night I was beyond tired at 6.15 and instead of struggling to stay awake and seem interested in anything, I went to bed and slept for just under 12 hours. TWELVE. This week instead of seeing a blank space in the diary and filling it up with some catch up or some thing, I am going to stay home. Go for a walk. Sit on the couch. Or wait for it, gasp, do nothing.

Do you suffer from this condition?
Got any suggestions on how best to under commit?
Have there ever been children that looked worse than this?
Is Daisy about to stab me?

This was taken yesterday afternoon before the world’s biggest’s sleep for them: 14 hours Harper and 12.5 for Daisy. They look a little better this morning.


  1. Someone once said to me ‘Saying No to other is saying Yes to yourself’ I always keep that in the back of my mind now and it makes it easier to say NO 🙂

  2. I’m a bit like this Beth, I yearn for some space in the diary but then fill every second of it. I know that I am a bit better when I’m a little overstretched than when I have too much free time, but there are limits….envy your big sleeps (and your beautiful house by the way – so lovely)

  3. Those kids look ready to kill – you are right!! So glad you all had a wonderful nights sleep. I should try that myself some time soon! Leave some space in the calendar – I know its hard. Fill it up with things just for your very own self and your little family. We did that on the weekend and it was lovely.

  4. I’ve got better at saying no. It’s a work in progress though. Feel good that I said no to a trip to Sydney this week as it’s a huge one here at home with my son graduating. Realised in advance it would be too much. x

  5. Beth you have to learn the Power of NO. I am only new at this myself. I was sent on a 5 day live-in course with 20 retail buyers earlier in the year – on the last day you spend 2 hours going around the room telling people their strengths and weaknesses {sounds fun, right?}. I was surprised by both. Strength – warm and engaging {I always assumed that people thought I was a bitch}. Weakness – wants people to like her, so she says YES to everything. It was a big smack in the face. I was terrified that people would like me less when I said no, but they actually started to like me more. Because when I said yes I meant it and when I went to events I was “present”. Now I say things like, “I would love to, but I cannot fit it in…”, etc. Let them down gently. I am much nicer to live with as a result and have more to give to the people that I really care about. My family.

  6. so funny you manage to say no when asked to have sex! I am a professional in avoiding it and I am probably too far the other way of the yes and need to say it more.. You sound like a good friend though and therefore people like having you around and also see you as being very capable. You must fall under the saying, “ask a busy person to do it as they will get it done!” My sister doesn’t know the NO word, and most of the time she has everything under control so people keep loading her up with things to do, she has 3 children and often has a few extra thrown in as people dump their kids and then show up hours after they said they would be back?? Sometimes even other peoples dogs. She once accepted a chicken, but then realised this was too far as there was poo all over the back yard and her third child was crawling then.. hmmm, her life is very full though, she has good friends and people often tell me she is much nicer than myself. I try to take a leaf out of her book. It is a challenge to strike balance with family, work, the relentless house work and friends. Good luck with saying no! i want to know if you feel like you will have to make excuses for the No’s that are coming?

  7. Ooooh those eyes are tired.

    As a fellow sufferer from this condition (both the tired eyes and the cantsaynoitis), I salute you. x

  8. I could have written this about myself. I’m always saying yes. And then realise I’ve waaaay overstretched myself and have to cancel a few things. Which I hate doing, as I hate letting people down. Vicious cycle!
    Enjoy your restful week. xx
    ps. So jealous of all that sleep!

  9. My Hubby is a yes man… mostly to do with work. But he is making a real effort to say no because someone recently described a colleague to him as a yes man who had just become an arsehole as he was (as a consequence) always letting people down. Made Hubbster think about that one… no amount of nagging from his wife had any effect over the years however!

  10. I have something similar to what Ange said on my wall of words but I learnt the hard way to say no- lots of counselling! I still feel bad saying no to people, especially school stuff, but the feeling passes.
    The girls look like they are from the movie Children if the Corn- scary shit that movie!!

  11. I totally relate to this, thus writing a book for Tafe only two weeks after giving birth. I also will come to you if you live 2 hours away. Sorry, no suggestions to help you. If you get any let me know!

  12. Yep, I suffer from this, less so now and I agree with Ange’s philosophy about sayng NO is saying YES to self, needs to be the title of Mothering 101 for first time mothers.
    Ok, my strategies at this time of year is, NO work Xmas parties, less alcohol and bad food consumed with people I dont nec want to socialise with and see disgrace themselves. Has worked for 6 years so far. NO, we must catch up before Xmas shit, we’ll catch up in the New Year just fine.
    YES to having family for Xmas, YES to have close friends for leftovers buffet on Boxing Day and YES to any spontaneous invites involving Moet and salmon.
    I now see December as the month to take care of self and FFS keep away from those shopping malls.

    • It’s like the world will END if we don’t catch up for Christmas isn’t it? Good advice…and there is ALWAYS room for invites that involve Moet & Salmon. ALWAYS.

  13. I’ve become better at knowing when I am at my limit and saying no. You need to have quiet, reflective family and alone time – it’s vital to staying strong as a person and strengthening your own family. Now get some rest xx

  14. Yep…I’m a habitually yesser and that is why I will be taking 35 family portraits at Sunny’s Kinder fundraiser tomorrow. Kill me NOW.

    I am giggling at the picture of the girls – nothing a it of beauty sleep can’t/won’t/didn’t fix!

  15. I LOVE this Beth.

    I too have been an over committer and in my first year of stay at home mothering I found myself doing 3 individual catch ups a day because I couldn’t say no. All at my (very bloody clean) house with home cooked food and cups of tea made by me. People would come, talk, make a mess and leave.

    Somewhere, somehow, I found my NO (fucking) way.

    I say write ‘faux’ dates in your calendar that are just for you and the kids. WRITE them in, make them real and important.

    Good luck with the crazy season Beth

    xo em

  16. I too am a complete yes-aholic. I ran myself into a HUGE hole last year after oh, 34 years of being that way inclined. It is because I love to help, and also because I think ‘if I don’t help, who will?!’

    I think it’s taken me a full year to train myself out of it. I still have bouts of it here and there but life for my darling hubby in particular has been a lot better since I’ve managed to put a lid on it. It’s funny isn’t it … we will do anything for anyone, but have no dramas saying no to our partners and ourselves!

  17. I have friends who are yes people and it drives me nuts…because they say yes to you and you just know they are going to end up cancelling!

    For whatever reason I have always been more selfish with my time and so I have an easier time saying no.
    I am social and I do like to be busy…but I also really cherish the time I have just with my family or with myself.

    I also do what Emily does…I schedule family time and me time in my diary so there it is, set in stone…it prevents me from overextending myself.

  18. yes. yes. yes. all the time. after we moved, though, it is better because we are far from the people we know, and i’ve been hiding in baby land from new people. i’m terrible at yes when it comes to work, though. and that photo, it’s a little bit…’redrum’ if you don’t mind me saying. watch your back, is all. :)sarah

  19. Hell yes, that’s me too. Recently my yeses have actually got me into some trouble where I have offered to do things without thinking about the logical consequences and it has caused me some pain having to back away from offers of help. Now my husband is my go-to guy so any requests that come in, I ask him first, talking it over really helps me gain perspective on whether it’s something I can do.

  20. That was me, then I got glandular fever. I’d had it as a teenager and it wasn’t that bad, I was just very sleepy. When I had it as an adult, I was exhausted, nauseous and in constant physical pain. I had to learn to say no, or I would have ended up in hospital.

    It is so liberating saying no. I don’t feel so rushed and stressed. However I still get the “no guilts” and feel like I need an elaborate excuse. I wonder if I will ever get past that.

  21. Almost every day I have an extra child to drop to/from school, look after in the afternoon, babysit during the day, drop to and from parties, pickup presents for other peoples kids to give at birthdays…. the downside to working from home. My “yeses” are fast going to become “no”… either that or I start charging babysitting rates and taxi fares.

  22. My husband is always telling me that I need to say no more. I just don’t realise I do it until I’m stressed and exhausted and taking it out on him. It’s hard to remember or accept that we can’t be everything to everyone. But I’ve become a real ‘yes’ mum too, and I think it’s because I remember my mum so often saying no. It’s about choosing my battles, I guess, and not always saying no just because I can.

  23. This was me! Especially 4 years ago, then I slowed down because I had to. It was after my 2nd child was born and I was saying ‘Yes’ and then I had a panic attack. Ummmmm, what happened there? I was overloaded, too overloaded something had to give. So I have over time and going two steps forward and one step backwards learnt to manage my time better. I’m still learning especially after number three was born! Yet the payoffs are this, I realise I don’t have to attend every offer of a social engagement in fact I must start accepting more offers as I’ve gone the other way. I also designate at least have one day off a week pottering at home even if it’s house work being done. The payoff is you feel recharged and getting started the next day just becomes a little easier. Good luck with saying ‘No’ and enjoy the benefits!

  24. If I had no children my calendar would be a lot less full this time of year!

  25. I suffer from the same thing!
    I found that putting “me” time and time with E and I in the blank spots on the calendar, it forced me to say no to others.


  26. Many years ago, a very good family friend told me this: “I used to always be doing things I didn’t really want or need to do and then one day I just said ‘no, thank you’ – no apology or excuse. It’s changed my life and everyone responds positively”.
    It’s the best piece of advice I’ve ever received and one I use all the time. You’re not a horrible person if you say no. Clint and I are super protective of our family and our time. We ensure that there’s a healthy balance of work, social, family time (although work is intruding a bit at the moment). Occasionally when things get out of kilter and were doing too much, we immediately pull back.

    I think the idea above of crossing out days in the diary is a brilliant one if you have trouble saying no.

  27. I have a friend who does this and she is always borderline meltdown……
    I don’t think she’s impressing anyone, least of all herself or her family. It takes a total mental shift to be less busy but honestly you’ll be much happier ;O)
    Night Night! It’s waaaayy past your beddy byes time……tehe!
    Tania xx

  28. Glad the girls got some sleep…do you think you might blog less to free up your time? Good luck!

  29. Yep lady, we all have to come to it eventually, just say No. People won’t like you any less if you can’t always catch up or attend the event they invited you to. It’s damn near impossible to maintain that level of socialising. Hilarious photo, Daisy does look a little pissed off, haha! xo

  30. I think during my long life I tended to try and fit in with other people’s wants which I guess is the same as saying “yes” too often. Comes a time when you do have to consider numero uno and use the two letter word “NO” a little more often for everyone’s sake and especially your own. Just keep practising say “NO’ to yourself and you will eventually find it is a word that fits nicely into your vocabulary. xx

  31. I did a 180. Not good either. Balance, balance. I was always a people pleaser, so eager to be there and be needed (child of an alcoholic you see). I moved away from my family and started to say no. For me though it was all no’s. No longer was I going to do it if I didn’t want. Turns out I did a lot I didn’t want to do, and worse, with people I didn’t want to do it with. It’s been hard, so hard, to say yes again. It’s the problem of the other, it’s like I don’t know how to say yes! Excuses come way too easily. Balance, balance, balance. I need it, you need it. If you figure it out let me know.

  32. Someone said to me, if you never say no, how much is the yes really worth? or something like that..

  33. I don’t want to sound alarmist, but that photo is a little Flowers in the Attic.

  34. Guilty! Slowly learning I dont have to save the world and everyone in it, and that no is ok if it means I stay sane, it’s taking a while though!

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