Do You Need to Learn to Say No, As Back to School Starts?


This year, as back to school looms, I’m challenging myself, and any mom who finds themselves always saying yes, to just. say. no.

How many moms have had a chance to see Bad Moms? I recently took a much needed mommy break, grabbed my girlfriends and a cocktail and laughed hysterically for two straight hours. This fall I will have a 7th grader and a 5th grader – that’s 12 combined years of class parties, PTA meetings, soccer practices, and various after-school activities. Do you ever find yourself cringing internally while mindlessly agreeing to another classroom obligation?

The year my daughter graduated 5th grade was an especially challenging one for me. During that year I was pregnant with my youngest, acting as the committee chair woman of 5th Grade Graduation, room mom, and for some reason also worked in my son’s 3rd grade classroom and held down two full time jobs. This meant 12 hour shifts at the hospital and freelance makeup artistry on the weekends. My days all ran into each other. I was burned out. I was a “yes mom.” When someone asked me to take on a project, or to send some emails, or to volunteer in Spanish class after school (even though I had eighty seven other things on my to-do list) I didn’t think twice – I just said yes!


It’s OK to say no.
When Susie Q asks you to volunteer in Mandarin class after school and you’ve already committed to the Green Team and have to be at soccer practice at 5:30, say no! This doesn’t make you a less committed parent, it makes you a parent who can still maintain sanity. I have personally felt intimidated by fellow PTA moms who seem to be able to do it ALL, but I’ve decided this year it’s OK if that’s not me. I love our school communities and I’m happy to give my time, but need to do so in moderation.

It takes a village.
Lean on your mom tribe! This is crucial! No one can do it all on their own. It’s OK to accept an offer from a fellow mom to take your kids to soccer practice on Tuesday so you can run to the grocery store. Ask your mom friend to share the “class mom role.”  One of you does the emailing, and one of you plans the parties.  Instead of volunteering weekly in both kids’ classes, try doing so monthly. If you have multiple kids, like me, that still means you’re volunteering at school every other week.

Bag lunches are recyclable.
Recently I found myself in line at Pottery Barn Kids buying $20 Bento Boxes, a $25 thermos (guaranteed to keep things cold or hot) and $15 lunch sacks with plastic travel utensils. Don’t get me wrong … these are amazing; I love that I can send hot mac and cheese in their thermos, and it’s still hot at lunch time, and I love the lunch options a bento box provides, annnnd who doesn’t need traveling utensils?  These are all genius!  BUT……. I spent almost $200 on lunch containers, and realized I was doing so because this is what “moms do” and what “moms buy” for their kids.  When I was growing up I was sent off with a brown paper bag and it worked just fine. They may not be reusable, but hey, at least they’re recyclable.

I’m looking forward to the back to school time; it’s always filled with exciting energy: new teachers to meet, new friends to make, and a year of memories waiting to be created.  Now that I won’t be on volunteer overload, maybe I’ll have time to meet with some of my fav mom friends for coffee after morning drop off.  I’ve realized that “saying no” is so crucial for me to actually have some balance in my life, and I hope you feel empowered to “say no” too if you’re wanting and needing to get through the school year without experiencing the burn out of the “yes mom” reality.

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Michelle is a mom to three minis: a Queen Tween, a nine year old standup comedian, and a sweet baby who hasn’t let anyone sleep for 14 months (and counting). Michelle was born and raised a Southern California girl, but relocated to the Pacific Northwest where she has spent the past 4 years living in Seattle. Michelle is a brunch enthusiast by nature; filling her weekends exploring the town’s best offerings and searching for the next, best, perfect latte. Naturally, Seattle was the perfect fit. But after four years, Michelle, her husband, and her three minis moved to Phoenix in search of more opportunity, and, hopefully, better brunching. Michelle is a makeup artist by trade, with ten years experience in beauty, bridal, and fashion makeup. When Michelle isn’t busy packing lunches, driving to basketball practice, or attending PTA meetings, she can be found beautifying her clients. “Everyone has a story” says Michelle, “This is mine; it isn't boring.”


  1. Love this! I have a couple years before my little one will start school and I’ll have to remember this! I’m sure we can all use a reminder to accept help when it’s offered 🙂


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