Don’t just say no, say yes to something more important

Eight months. I only have to make it though another eight months…

That’s when, my youngest, my little lord tyrant (and I say that with love), will be three years old. Intellectually, I know that the terrible twos don’t magically end just because the calendar changes, but it’s a date I am currently clinging to like a life raft.

No, I don't like it!
No, I don’t like it! (Photo credit: pand0ra23)

We had another dinner stand-off the other night. I was determined that my toddler at least try the food on his plate. It was delicious and cooked perfectly. I was convinced that if I could only get him to taste it, my toddler would willingly eat the rest. My son, on the other hand was equally convinced that I was trying to poison him.

I tried all the basic tricks. Pretending the food on the fork was an airplane coming into the hanger. I asked my older son to join me in by making loud, “Yum!” sounds. But my toddler would just say no as he smiled and turned away with his whole body.

I finally managed to get a fingernail sized piece of broccoli on his tongue through the use of stealth and trickery. He retaliated with the nuclear option; regurgitating everything he had eaten since breakfast two days prior, all while I stood there helpless. I guess this time he was serious about his no. Another round goes to the kiddo.

balance scale
balance scale (Photo credit: winnifredxoxo)

I read an article the other day stating that the term work life balance was misleading. It argued that balance, by its definition, required two equal, yet opposing forces. Therefore to achieve balance, your work had to be the opposite of your life. Considering the fun bodily fluids I get to clean up at home, having an opposite work environment is rather appealing. But I understand the point that the author was trying to make. Because you spend so much of your life at work, the last thing you would want is work that takes away from your life, rather it should add to your life.

I have begun the rewrite process of my novel with the hopes of have a manuscript ready to be sent to an editor by the end of July. I continue to get asked, how do I find the time to write a new novel, promote the first, manage staff, and raise two boys. I fully admit that I have a lot going on, but it could be much worse.

Steve Jobs once said that he “was as proud of what we don’t do as what we do.” He was talking about the products they thought of but choose not to bring to market. Rather than flooding the market with dozens of similar products with slightly different features and benefits, Apple focused on perfecting a singular product line.

My plate might look full at the moment, but it could have been overwhelming. As much as I am proud of what I am doing, I am equally proud of the opportunities I have turned down over the years.

I was previously offered a role within my company with increased responsibilities. The role would require me to use skills I have, but skills I don’t want to develop further. I would receive no growth satisfaction and by accepting it, I knew it wouldn’t be long before I would become miserable. I thanked them for the offer, but told the management team that I would prefer to continue what I was doing. I explained why I was turning down their offer, what about the role wasn’t appealing, and what I wanted to do more of instead. I could tell they were stunned, but I had to remain true to my personal goals. By saying no, I ensured that I wasn’t a completely burnt out shell of my former self when another, more fitting, opportunity came my way later.

don't just say no
don’t just say no (Photo credit: cheerfulmonk)

You can say no and not commit career suicide. You should say no with confidence whenever you know the opportunity is counter to your personal goals. No is one of life’s most liberating phrases. It is a word most adults don’t say enough, at least not when it matters.

It is also a word I look forward to hearing less from my toddler’s lips. Until then, would you please pass the towel?



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We all need attitude adjustments sometimes

Alan Cohen To make the world a better place, s...
Alan Cohen To make the world a better place, see the world as a better place (Photo credit: symphony of love)

In one month I am going to be the proud parent of a kindergartener. I’ve already verified that I have more than one package of tissues ready in the house. I’m as ready as I can be. He, on the other hand is more than ready. He can read more than a few sight words, knows his numbers and letters, and can perform some basic addition and subtraction. His day care teaches all these Pre-K basics as part of its curriculum, including the dreaded weekly homework assignments.

The Joys Of Homework
The Joys Of Homework (Photo credit: Cayusa)

These assignments are a struggle for everyone involved. My son would rather be doing anything other than writing his words for the week three times in a row. I would rather he was able to enjoy his time at home too. He writes a few of the letters backwards and gets frustrated. He gets distracted and starts doodling on the page. He winds up dragging out the assignment three times as long as it needs to be, especially if I am not hovering over him ensuring he stays focused.

I admit that I equally share his dread of homework too. I only get to see him awake for a couple of hours each night during the week. It bothers me to see him stressed during that time. But on a selfish note, it also annoys me that I am prevented from relaxing while I am forced to play warden.

However I don’t share my opinion of his homework with my son. Too much is at stake.

With Maya Angelou’s passing a number of news and media outlets have run pieces featuring some of her most inspiring quotes. One of my favorites is this, “If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude. Don’t complain.”

Cover of "Change Your Attitude"
Cover of Change Your Attitude

Homework isn’t going anywhere any time soon, and my son’s homework is only going to get more labor intensive as he gets older. Therefore since changing the practice of homework isn’t an option, if I am going to follow Maya Angelou’s advice, I am going to have to attempt to change my attitude about his homework.

My son still looks to me to provide guidance. If I let on that his homework is a pain, he is only going to reflect and magnify that opinion, making the weekly struggle to get it done that much more painful. It is already difficult enough to keep him focused on the assignment. If he drags it out any more it will take us two nights to complete rather than the one. Even worse, his attitude could then influence my younger son’s view of the task too, and my youngest is at least five hundred times more stubborn than his brother.

I am going to have to focus on how it is teaching him responsibility and how procrastination can be a really bad thing. Rather than dreading pulling out the sheets, I am going to look forward to that moment when I tell him it is all done correctly and he beams with pride. I am going to keep my mind on the prize, the sight of my son dressed in cap and gown crossing the stage.

If I do this right, with any luck he’ll mouth the words ‘thank you mom,’ as he accepts his diploma. That event combined with that little phrase will make all the stress and lost evenings worth it.

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How I’ve embraced cheap child labor



Oh that glorious moment when you realize your children are finally old enough to really help around the house…



Our sons are lucky enough to have a large extended family, many of whom happen to live close by. This is great when the hubby and I have found ourselves in need of a babysitter, but can be expensive during the birthday and holiday season. Especially as most of the cousins are now old enough to understand the concept of presents and note their lacking. As there are several of them, birthday season now spans from July until February.


Up until very recently our eldest son (now aged 5) had been paralyzed by shyness in social situations preferring to cling to either his father or I during non-family hosted parties. Whatever had been holding him back was suddenly switched off. This change has resulted in him being invited to more birthday parties, meaning more gifts.


My husband, ever our family’s jokester informed our son that he was going to have to give his friend one of the toys he received from Christmas in response to one of his latest invitations. Our son looked at me as if to say “HELP! Dad can’t be serious!” I decided to play along with his father offering our son a deal: If he could complete enough chores to earn ten points by the end of the week, he would be able to keep his gifts and pick out something for his friend.


kindergartener supervising infant labor - _MG_1339
kindergartener supervising infant labor – _MG_1339 (Photo credit: sean dreilinger)


We drew up one of those fundraising thermometer graphs marking all ten points needed to fill it to the top. He quickly embraced the idea doing all sorts of chores around the house like emptying out the dishwasher and dragging the garbage cans back to the house, but was still sort a few points short and losing interest in the game by the end of the week. We had to think up something and think up something fast!


Then my husband had an idea. A brilliant idea. The kiddo could scrub toilets! I just had to show him how much fun it could be. You would have thought we just gave him the keys to the city! Not only was he being given some crazy blue substance that squirted out of a bottle, but Mom and Dad were actually happy he was pouring it all over the sides. If that wasn’t the best part there was a secret brush that was just his size hidden in the back corner of the bathroom.


What started out as a joke turned into a fantastic experience for us all. The hubby and I probably earned a free hour or so in the process, but the benefits to our son were even greater. He worked hard for his points and was more excited to give his friend the gift he had earned and selected than had I just picked something out. He also was able to practice math, and took pride in his results. If he figures out how to outsource work to his little brother, we may well have another budding entrepreneur in the family.


Unfortunately ever since our game, our son has taken over the bathrooms as if they were his own personal fiefdom. Woe on you if you happen to leave it in a state of mess. He will make sure to tell everyone he knows how badly you left it and how important it is that he take care of it right away. We might consider working with him on tact next.




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