The Relationship Judge – When To Say No!

It’s been a bit since the last Relationship Judge entry.  Partially it’s because submissions have been light and partially I think we’ve all been caught up in the Bachelor season until recently.  But now that spring is here (in theory), it’s time to review, judge and spew out some good advice to those in need.

Full warning here: I’m writing this completely exhausted.  My feet are throbbing from way too much activity today.  My laptop is currently sitting on a fully set dining room table – ready for a Passover seder Tuesday night.  The fridge is stuffed to the brim with food and Wally is running around like a madman from all the different smells in here.  The most exciting part of Passover prep is that we finally broke out our wedding dishes, which have been sitting in my parents’ house for the past 3 years.  SO MUCH BETTER than the chipped Ikea dishes I’ve had since law school.  What a difference it makes to have nice dishes.  I feel like a real grown up.

Need to pull myself away from rinsing off serving platters and figuring out how to stuff my apple cinnamon kugel into the fridge so I can focus on this entry.

The Facts:  Lauren has been married for 4 years and has a 3 year old son and 14 month old daughter.  She’s a full time speech pathologist. Her husband is a dentist working with his brother to establish a dental practice.  The past several years have been especially crazy with Lauren’s husband finishing his residency and starting up a business, adjusting to life with two young kids and Lauren continuing to work full time.  There have been many long days, long nights and to add to it all, their social calendar never seems to slow down.  Lauren said that she had 10 weddings coming up in the next 5 months (all close friends, all friends that attended their wedding). Most of them are out of town weddings.  She also has at least 8 baby showers in the next several months – half are for work friends that she does not believe she can decline and the other half are either for family members or close friends.  Then there’s the constant invitations of friends for dinner – mostly her single friends – who don’t seem to understand that being a mom of two kids under 3 is not a good enough excuse for declining a “girls night out” for no reason at all.

Lauren is feeling overwhelmed about everything on her plate.  She’s constantly rushing to get home to the kids, get them fed, bathed, changed etc. and by the time her husband gets home, they are both exhausted – there is absolutely no time for them to catch up or get a moment to themselves.  She has tried speaking with her husband about getting extra help with the kids, but with him trying to start a business and his loans from dental school, their means and options are limited.  The overwhelming amount of social obligations is another sore point.  She’d like to decline some of the events, but she’s not sure she can as many of these social commitments are for family or close friends.   She’s also wondering what other young moms out there do about being invited to numerous social events.

The Question: How should Lauren handle her crazy social calendar?  She wants to know if it’s OK to simply just decline certain events without getting major resentment from her friends or guilt.

The Relationship Judge Says:  Lauren, I’m tired just hearing about your daily routine.  I’m not a mom and so for that, I can only speak from the viewpoint of someone with a full time job, a husband, a long commute and a sister with 400 kids, but here are my thoughts:

Your first priority is to yourself and your immediate family (husband and kids).  With every decision you make, you should be thinking about whether that decision is in your / your immediate family’s best interest.  Let’s take the weddings / baby showers first.  Any time you have to travel for a wedding, that automatically makes it optional.  Unless it’s your sibling, sibling in-law, close cousin or best friend.  You have two young kids and that should also give you a very good excuse to cut down on the amount of weddings you are going to.  Are any of these weddings for your husband’s friends – and would he be willing to go by himself?  Weddings can be a lot of fun, but they can also be overwhelming in terms of travel, figuring out childcare, costs (shower gifts, bachelorette parties and wedding gifts are might expensive all added up) and people should understand that a full time working mom may not be able to accept every single invitation that comes her way.  Be selective – it’s OK to say NO.  Baby showers are less of a big commitment if they are in town, but sometimes you just need a Saturday or Sunday to yourself.  That’s OK too.  You don’t have to accept every single invitation that comes your way.

As for your friends that ask you for frequent “Girls Night Out” and dinner plans, perhaps try having a one on one conversation with a couple of your closer friends out of this group.  Explain how you are feeling.  Your good friends will understand.  You’d rather cuddle up with your 3 year old, baby and husband rather than spending $14 for a glass of wine at a trendy restaurant.  Who can judge you for that?  On the other hand, you deserve a night out with your friends once in a while and it’s healthy to do that!  Plus it’s important to maintain strong friendships and the ones worth keeping will be supportive of you.  Spending time with close friends should make you feel more relaxed and loved.

Aside from all the weddings, baby showers and girls nights, it’s very important for you to make time for yourself and with your husband.  Make time for the gym.  Plan date nights.  Get a baby sitter to come regularly and have a back up as well.  It also sounds like you could use some help with your kids during the week but may not have the extra funds right now to get that help.  Do you have a nanny now and if so, could you ask him / her to stay a little later after you get home from work?  Even someone who could heat up food for you or set the table or just basically give you an extra hour after you got home to get yourself together.  Most importantly, talk to your husband about how you’re feeling and try to come up with a plan that works for both of you.

Your Turn: How should Lauren handle her crazy life these days?  Social commitments?  Hoping you moms can chime in here!

Tomorrow will be the longest day of my life, so I best be turning in. Have a great week!

Until next time, you can receive updates if you “Like” my Facebook page (http://www.facebook.com/OfficeStace) or “Follow” me on Twitter(@OfficeStace).  You can also follow me on Instagram (@OfficeStace).

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Comments

  1. Get several $25 gift certificate to a good all purpose department store and decide if you would rather send the card or go to the wedding/shower. That way you have a concrete two options in front of you. DO NOT FEEL GUILTY ABOUT USING THE GIFT CARDS. A personal note and a gift card shows just as much love as showing up, more so if you resent showing up.

  2. This is an unbearable load of events for anyone, never mind a working Mom with two little ones. I think you should get a huge calendar and write in every single event going on and really study it. You have to sleep, eat, work and spend time with your kids and husband. It would be nice to spend time with friends and family but not as essential….although they may not see it that way. When you look at your schedule laid out in front of you I think you will see that it is impossible and maybe see what can be pruned. Perhaps go to a wedding shower, but not the wedding. Out of town weddings are tough on anyone and you may be better to dump all of them to be consistent. For other showers etc remember you can always use the sick kid excuse….send a gift one way or another but have a day at home. Kids do have a way of getting mysterious fevers at inconvenient times…. Otherwise I think you have to be very frank with friends and family about what you can realistically do but make sure you do get together with them at some point. Keep track of everything so you know where you are engagement-wise so no one can guilt you. Unfortunately as time goes by some friendships fade and others come along as your kids grow and your life evolves. Right now you can only do the best you can do, so enjoy your life and the events you can get to and don’t lament the ones you miss….because truthfully will they really miss you on that day?….not likely as they will be too busy in their moment.

  3. Lauren – I think any young women with a growing family can feel your pain! First off you and your husband should be so proud of your accomplishments, marriage, children and successful careers – that is no easy feat to pull off so kudos to all of you for making that happen. Second, I think as women we believe that we truly can DO IT ALL – and it just is not possible to do it all and do it all well. I like Stacey’s idea of putting together a calendar for the year and planning ahead. Perhaps 1 or 2 of the destination weddings could be an excuse for you and the hubby to get away for some couple time. Also maybe you can combine baby shower and gal bonding time. Invite friends for a drink after the shower and kill two events with one absence. Each invite that you receive stop and think….what is the meaning of this friendship and this event. Finally it is OK to admit that it just is not possible to attend everything that you’re invited to nor is it necessary. This does not make you a bad friend, a bad person or anything other than someone who is able to organize and prioritize. Putting yourself, your husband and your children first is important. Lastly, consider putting a finite number on how many events that you can afford time and money wise to attend. Once you’ve hit the limit for the year, you can just say no without even giving it much more thought.

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