Do Your “Yeses” Match Your Season of Life?

posted by Andrea | 10/17/2016
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season of life

Over the past several weeks, as I have been thoroughly enjoying the changing seasons here in West Michigan, I started thinking about the changing “seasons” in my life — specifically, my life pre-kids, the season of life when I could say “yes” to almost any and every request that came my way.

  • Yes, I’ll officiate all the home volleyball games.
  • Yes, I’ll make 6 dozen cookies and bars for the bake sale.
  • Yes, I’ll be in the church choir, on the landscaping committee, on the Women’s ministry team, in multiple Bible studies, and I’ll be a Gems leader — all at the same time!
  • Yes, I’ll be a budget mentor.
  • Yes, I’ll stay late at work this week.
  • Yes, I’ll sing in your women’s chorale.
  • Yes, I’ll organize that event.
  • Yes, I’ll speak for your event and lead a break-out workshop.
  • Yes, I’ll come help you with yardwork or housework.
  • Yes, I’ll serve on the board for your non-profit.
  • Yes, I’ll join that networking group.
  • Yes, I’ll host that party.
  • Yes, we’ll chaperone the school prom.
  • Yes, I can create a promotional flier for your event and have it delivered next week.
  • Yes, I’ll volunteer for that, and that, and that, and that.

My life was full. I felt a strong sense of purpose, I felt useful, I felt productive, I felt alive!

Not only did I clearly know what my gifts and talents were, I used so many of them on a daily and weekly basis.

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After Nora came along, many of my former “yeses” became regret-filled “I’m-not-sure-if-I-can-do-it-any-mores”… and eventually just straight out “nos”.

I felt so lazy, unuseful, unproductive, with no sense of purpose. I hated saying “no” every time someone asked me to help… and I hated even more when they just stopped asking all together.

And then I realized I was just in a new season of life.

My new season was one filled with new babies, small people, and all the things associated with my job as mom… and you know what, I said “yes” a whole lot more than I initially realized.

  • Yes, I’ll keep the pantry and refrigerator stocked and make all your food all the time.
  • Yes, I’ll wash all your clothing, towels, blankets, sheets, pillows, toys, etc.
  • Yes, I’ll plan fun activities and outings for you each day.
  • Yes, I’ll take you to the park, to the neighbor’s house, to your grandparent’s house to play for the afternoon
  • Yes, I’ll do that craft with you.
  • Yes, I’ll teach you how to crack an egg.
  • Yes, I’ll bathe you every day.
  • Yes, I’ll change your diaper and wipe your butt and clean up your messes every day.
  • Yes, I’ll read your favorite book for the 376th time.
  • Yes, I’ll find your lost toy, stuffed animal, blanket, or pacifier.
  • Yes, I’ll refill your water cup.
  • Yes, I’ll give you just one more kiss and hug goodnight.
  • Yes, I’ll stay up all night rocking you so you can sleep even with your stuffed up nose.

My life is full. I feel a strong sense of purpose, I feel useful, I feel productive, I feel alive!

Not only did I discover a bunch of new gifts and talents, I also realized how many of them I use on a daily and weekly basis.

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I may have struggled a bit to find that sense of purpose after Nora came along… but now that I’ve found it, I realize I say “yes” to a lot of other things — as long as they fit with my current season of life!

  • Yes, I’ll be in charge of cleaning the church nursery every month.
  • Yes, I’ll join the Bible study that provides story hour for Nora and nursery for the boys.
  • Yes, we’ll participate in many of the programs at our local library.
  • Yes, I’ll be the room mom for a day at Nora’s school.
  • Yes, I can come along on the upcoming field trip.
  • Yes, I’ll bring snacks for the story hour program.
  • Yes, I’ll make you a meal and bring it over after Dave gets home from school.
  • Yes, I’ll write that sponsored post.
  • Yes, I’ll work as your Virtual Assistant.
  • Yes, we’ll host the end-of-year staff party for Dave’s school.
  • Yes, I’ll have the neighbors over for breakfast and a morning play date.
  • Yes, we’ll have everyone over for dinner and I’ll make all the food.
  • Yes, I’ll answer an insane number of email questions, Facebook messages, and blog comments every single day.
  • Yes, I’ll go for a walk with my neighbor after the kids are in bed for the night.

Even though I freely hand out MANY “nos” when requests for my time and energy don’t match up with my current season of life, I am still able to utilize my gifts, talents, and passions with just as many “yeses” that are a better fit for me right now.

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When all my kids are in school, a new season will begin again — one I’m assuming will involve putting lots of miles on our minivan driving them to and from different events, practices, games, friends, activities, etc. We’ll all participate in many school and church activities, Dave will coach them in basketball, we’ll plan family vacations, we’ll do more big kid stuff and less baby and toddler stuff..

As they reach high school, we’ll say “yes” to traveling to their sporting events, attending music concerts, shopping for prom dresses, and helping them with their homework. I’ll say “yes” to more opportunities to work or volunteer outside the home, grow my business, and help our aging parents.

Eventually we will be empty-nesters (I truly can’t even imagine this right now) and I will have more of my own time once again. I’ll say “yes” to helping my adult children decorate their own homes, plant their own gardens, and raise their own babies. I’ll say “yes” to more time with Dave and more time for myself. I’ll say “yes” to travel and friends and new hobbies and all those things I wanted to do someday.

Obviously, I’m not sure how the next 30 years of my life will play out — but I do know that I will continually make an effort to align my “yeses” with whatever season of life I’m in at the time. 

This means I might say yes to one thing and no to another… and then flip flop those answers in another 5 or 10 years when I’m in a different season of life.

This also means I probably won’t feel quilty saying ‘no’ to your request because I know I said ‘yes’ to that same request 5 years ago… and I might very well say ‘yes’ to it again in another 5 years.

If you have recently felt overloaded with responsibilities, stressed out, exhausted, overwhelmed, or even just fed-up with everything on your plate, it might be time to evaluate if your “yeses” match your current season of life.

Maybe you’re trying to hold onto something you did before kids (been there!), even though you now have 4 little people requiring enormous amounts of your time and energy each day. Maybe you’re trying to hang onto all your volunteer work, even though you recently went back to work full time and just can’t figure out how to make it all work. Maybe you’re dead set on saying ‘yes’ to various family or friend traditions every year, even though these traditions no longer seem to work for you and your current season of life.

Whatever the case, I’m almost positive you will instantly feel a huge sense of relief whenever you finally decide to align your ‘yeses’ with your current season of life. Your days will be less stressful, your schedule will be less hectic, your life will be simpler.

What do you think… it can’t hurt to give it a try!

Do YOUR ‘yeses’ match your current season of life?

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30 comments

  1. Debbie

    10/18/2016

    Your posts are so well thought out. I can’t imagine your kids going to the prom or doing sports events, let alone you and Dave being empty nesters! I do like how you’ve gone through each stages of life and how it will affect your Yesses.

    Goodness! Even with no kids and just a husband, my Yesses have changed from single to married life. Your example of what you do say Yes to (taking care of the home and kids) do encourage me, that I am saying Yes and am being useful, even if it’s not the same types of things I was doing when I was single. Thank you!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    know — it seems like forever from now, but I’m told “it will be here before we know it”!

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  2. Catherine

    10/18/2016

    Thank you for another fantastic post Andrea 🙂

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  3. Brandette W.

    10/17/2016

    So very true! My son has begun elementary school, he is in 1st grade now. My life has taken a drastic change since this happened. I have slowly realized it and have begun switching things around to best fit in with my new season of life and schedule. Although I loved when he was home with me in the baby years, now that he is in school, I am getting used to and loving my new normal.

    I am a SAHM to our one son. I take him to school and do the afternoon pickup each day. So my schedule revolves around this timeframe, giving me 6 hours to work. I also help take care of my Mom within these hours. I have learned over the last couple months since 1st grade began and my new responsibility of taking care of my Mom, that I only schedule doctor’s appts, grocery trips, errands, house cleaning, laundry, dinner prep, household chores in these hours. Because once I pick my son up from school, it’s home for homework, dinner with Daddy, than the rest of the night is relaxing together. We never schedule anything after school hours because our night routine is sacred to us. We also keep the weekends unscheduled and label it down as “family time” as well. It is very important to us that we all eat dinner together every night, talk about our day, and spend each evening and weekend home together. Now I am sure as our son gets older and becomes a teenager, this will change and he will be gone more. Enter a new season of life then I guess.

    But for now this works very well for our family and I am happy with my schedule. I think our “seasons of life as Mom” change frequently based on the new milestones our kids hit and the new tasks they learn to do for themselves. I feel like we have maybe finally hit the perfect age with our son right now, he is 6 and is able to do lots for himself but still needs us. I’m kinda loving my season right now.

    Thank you for letting me post our families routine. It was fun thinking it through and realizing it’s working right now after tweaking a few things recently and saying that “NO” to things that just don’t fit at this point in life.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    I love that you have a system that works so well for you right now Brandette! And yes, I think our seasons of life as mom do change frequently! I can’t believe how often my seasons have changed in just 5 years of being a mom!

    Enjoy your school days at home and with your mom! I bet it feels nice to have a kid-free break every day!

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  4. JoDi

    10/17/2016

    Very practical and encouraging advice as always! I’m glad one of your Yeses continues to be writing for your wonderful blog!

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    Andrea Reply:

    haha — me too! I hope I can always say “yes” to writing just one more blog post!

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  5. Natalia

    10/17/2016

    Such a great post!

    My challenge is how to say “no” (or “no more”) when nobody’s asking?
    I’ve been very much involved in our church for the last several years (I was available – had no kids), but just 2-1/2 months ago we took in two foster daughters: 18 months and 11 years old. Not only that my girls are in two different seasons of life that keep me up at night attending to the little one’s needs and on the go all day long keeping up with her and the older preteen sister (and all of the drama that comes with that, including SO MANY appointments and specific needs), but I struggle with my the previous commitments, especially since I have a leadership role in a Children’s group at church, and I can’t find anyone else to fill in for me! 🙁

    Do I just drop out (and maybe watch the group fall apart, feeling guilty that I didn’t try hard enough? Do I keep pushing myself?
    We’re hanging in there for now…. but I sure hope it will get better, soon!

    I do appreciate your view and it really made me think about so many things I’ve been used to be doing that now I don’t get to do anymore…
    I’ll try to let go of those that can wait for a different season, and just do my little best when I can’t change much.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Ahhh, such a difficult situation.
    I’m not sure if there is a clear black/white answer for this — but my initial thought is that maybe no one else is stepping up to the plate because you’re still there? I wonder if someone else would come forward once you backed away? If not, you’re probably correct in assuming the group will fall apart — and I realize that might be very difficult for you to see.
    However, don’t for one minute think it’s because YOU didn’t try hard enough. It sounds like you are already trying very hard to make it work — there is no need to sacrifice the happiness and wellbeing of your entire family for one group at church.

    [Reply]

    Natalia Reply:

    Thank you, Andrea! You are so right! They can’t see the need if I’m in the way… And even if the group will fall apart, it’s probably that season.

    I’m so glad you wrote this post and helped me to see what I needed to see. This is a very important season in my life and the lives of these two girls. I don’t know how long I’ll have them with me. I really want to do as much as humanly possible to invest in them, and not be sorry in a year down the road that I didn’t have enough energy for them, because I tried to do a little bit of everything…
    Thank you!!! And yes, it’s difficult, but it’s for the better!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Glad to see you got some advice — hopefully some of it will be useful in your transition process.

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    Colleen Reply:

    Natalia, I don’t know how large your church is, but is the Pastor aware of the changes in your family dynamic and just how much that is affecting your ability to continue ministry at the same commitment level? As someone who is involved in church leadership, I know some of the self-imposed pressure you might feel to “stay the course”. I also know that even the best of Pastors doesn’t always “see everything” and that it’s better to let them know of potential need for change with as much notice as possible. Pastor may even know of someone looking for an opportunity who could work alongside you to help carry the load.

    Fostering takes a lot more commitment than a parent usually realizes going into it. God bless you for taking that step, you are making a huge difference in these children’s lives, no matter how long you have them. Trust me in this, your care for these precious ones IS ministry.

    [Reply]

    Natalia Reply:

    Hi Colleen, That’s such a valid point! The church is fairly large, the Pastors know about the changes in our family dynamics, but since I haven’t said something to them about continuing or not in this ministry, they haven’t, either. Not their fault!
    That’s a very good point – We’ll have to have a talk… Soon! 🙂 Hopefully they can help out! Thank you! It’s great to hear from someone that understands…

    [Reply]

    Julie S-H Reply:

    Drop out! Often people don’t step up if they think someone else will do it! Love this post! Your season has changed and maybe even the program’s season has changed (as sad as that is). Who knows what the next season will be for the youth program, either the same with a new leader or something different. By stepping down you are releasing responsibility, which means saying yes to other responsibilities. Sounds like you have given a ton already, it’s so okay to take care of you and yours. 😉

    [Reply]

    Natalia Reply:

    Wow! Pretty straight forward, Julie! I like it, and – as hard as it is to let go of something I love so dearly, I think I will drop out, … but maybe not right now. I’m not totally done trying to find someone else to step up. I’ll set a time limit and pray specifically about it. If God wants it to continue, I’m sure He’s got it all figured it out and maybe I’m just standing in the way.
    It is amazing how freeing it is, however, to “hear” this from someone else other than my husband. 🙂 Thank you!

    [Reply]

  6. Mindy

    10/17/2016

    This was just what I needed to hear today! I have been feeling guilty for having to back out of a volunteer commitment for tonight because of some personal issues my teenage is struggling with. I just felt like he really needed me home tonight and he is my priority. Sometimes teens need Mom just as much as toddlers do! There are other Moms that will be volunteering at the event I’m giving up and they will be fine without me. Thanks so much!!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    I know the feeling (of feeling guilty, not of parenting a teen!) I’m sure you will no regret offering a bit more time to your son — good for you for making that choice!

    [Reply]

  7. Allison

    10/17/2016

    Thank you for this awesome post! You always remind us that it’s OK to say no and I’m thankful for that. In the past, I’d always let that guilt get to me, but you let us know that it’s OK and sometimes you can still say “yes but just not right now “. I’m at a stage where I work part time for a bank, and that allows me to do more for my kids and our church, which is great. I don’t feel obligated to serve on a board for work purposes, because I know that I can say yes to doing other things in this season of my life. All in good time, right? I appreciate you and your content. It ALWAYS is relative to me and my family! 🙂

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks Allison! I think that in order to have any type of balance in our lives, we must learn to say ‘no’!

    [Reply]

  8. Colleen

    10/17/2016

    thanks for this. when we went thru our season of wanting kids but not being able to conceive we found ourselves free to say “yes” a lot, but also felt compelled to say “yes” at times because we didn’t feel like we had a valid excuse not to jump in and fill needs & help friends. with time and maturity we’ve come to see that wasn’t a healthy pattern. we’re now older & wiser, but still occasionally have a hard time overcoming that bad pattern of thinking.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    You are not alone Colleen! I think anyone can fall victim to those feelings of “I should be doing more”. I think it’s just human nature to always feel pressured to do more. Good for you for realizing it is unhealthy and taking steps to make positive changes!

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  9. Angela

    10/17/2016

    Great perspective! I needed to make some boundaries for myself when I felt pulled in too many directions, and asked to do many things, especially at church. I finally came up with my standard answer when someone asked me to join a committee or help with something. I’d say “Thanks for thinking of me, but in my current season of life while my kids are little, I’m not taking on any responsibilities that take me away from them in the evenings.” I was surprised that people not only understood, but admired me for my answer. I figure there will be plenty of time for me to help out with lots of things, but right now, my family is my focus and my volunteer opportunities need to align with that priority. Now that all four of my kids are in school and are involved with many activities, I’m busy in a whole new way and I’m very grateful that I prioritized our evenings and suppers at home while they were all little, rather than running from one committee meeting to the next because I felt like I “should”.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Yes! I love your one-sentence answer!
    I actually say something similar too — basically along the lines of “I won’t do anything the requires me to be gone between 4:00 and 8:00 pm” Those are often the only hours our entire family is all together each day and there isn’t any committee, group, or obligation worth taking me away from that time on a regular basis. Plus, neither Dave or I like doing the dinner or bedtime process alone 🙂

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  10. Laura

    10/17/2016

    What a wonderful and accurate perspective. As a stay-at-home mom the last 9 years,I needed to hear this and see that I do have a purpose. And say yes all the time!

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  11. Elizabeth

    10/17/2016

    Great post! I love these lists. I often feel like I am saying no all the time, but I am saying YES to my small children and family right now. Thanks for the perspective!

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    Andrea Reply:

    exactly — it’s amazing how many things we probably say “yes” to without even realizing everything we do!

    [Reply]

  12. Lynn Oyama

    10/17/2016

    Awesome post Andrea! Such a great way to look at it.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks Lynn!

    [Reply]

  13. Lydia Senn

    10/17/2016

    Yes! This is one of the most life affirming blog posts I’ve ever read. Thank you.

    [Reply]

  14. Francie

    10/17/2016

    Thanks for all the great tips! http://www.supersimpleways.com

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