Manners Matter: Can’t Say No

Dear Mary Pat,

I have a problem with saying no. I sign up for every committee, meeting, spring cleanup, fall cleanup and even the odd bake sale. I help out at my kids’ school when I can, even though I work full time. There is a limit to my time, and I feel overwhelmed most days. How do I scale back without letting everyone down?


Sign Me Up

Dear Sign Me Up,

You are just one person. You are an employee and a mom and a member of a community, just to name a few descriptors. Nowhere are you listed as the one person who is responsible for everything. It will be hard, but you must learn to set limits for yourself by choosing the things that have the most meaning and value for you and your family, and leaving the other things to other people. 

Not only do you need to carve out time for your family, but you also need to carve out time for yourself so that you don’t burn out. Preserving your own mental health has to be a priority. You won’t be letting anyone down by putting yourself first every now and again. People will understand your occasional no.

Good luck,

Mary Pat

Miss Pat was educated at the Finnish Finishing School for Fine Ladies. Eloquent in edifying etiquette, she is fluent in seven languages, including the language of love. Mary Pat has generously extended her counsel to you and will answer any and all inquiries. Email Mary Pat at [email protected].