Life gets complicated quickly for parents.  As if raising toddlers wasn’t demanding enough, it gets even trickier as your kids get older. Once they hit school…they develop lives. They make new friends, have sleep overs, join clubs, take lessons, play sports and soon, whatever free time you had evaporates into thin air.

As a parent, you are always tempted to do more:

More for your kids…because if I don’t do more, they might miss out.

More for yourself…if I say no to the promotion, how will I fund their education?

Soon, you’re juggling more than you can handle.  You are emotionally exhausted, physically spent, financially stretched and relationally overburdened.

Why? Many of us max out because we fear missing out.  After all, if I don’t say yes…this opportunity might never come my way again.

Well, maybe.  But opportunity does not equal obligation.  And maybe it’s not that we miss out if we don’t max out, maybe we miss out if we max out.

Ask yourself this:  is your quality of life better when your calendar is beyond full, or when there’s white space in it?  Is there less tension in your marriage when you carry a balance on your credit card, or when you owe nothing?  Are your kids happier when you’re rushing them out the door, or when you’re at peace? Is maxing out really better?

The problem is that we all have more opportunity than we do time or money to fulfill them. So what do you do?

You learn to say no.

It’s that simple.  If you take the time to prioritize the important, you’ll start to get clarity on the urgent.  And one of the best things that clarity can bring is a realization that it’s healthy to say no.

What if you said no to a dinner invitation from a neighbour you barely know so you could have dinner with your spouse instead?  Or what if you said no to overtime so you could spend an afternoon with your kids (or that neighbour you barely know)?  What if you said no to one more night out so you could go for a hike in the woods with your kids?  What if you took yourself off Facebook for a week and used the time to rekindle your relationship with God?

Ultimately, learning to say no leads to a much greater yes: yes to God, yes to rest, yes to renewal, yes to margin, yes to family, yes to relationships and yes to what matters most.  Saying no to what’s merely good enables you to say yes to what’s truly great.

Here’s a challenge:  over the next seven days, say no to two things.  It will start a new pattern.

And as you prepare to do that, ask yourself this: deep down, what keeps you from saying no?