I know it feels like you have to do everything, mama. But you don’t.

You don’t need to have a perfect nutritionally sound meal plan every day of the week. Eat the ice cream. The broccoli will still be there tomorrow. Eat the pizza. It’s basically a balanced meal anyway. Crust—it could be whole grain. Sauce—tomatoes are probably a vegetable in this case. Cheese—protein-packed dairy. Throw some pineapple on there and you’ve got the whole food pyramid.  

You don’t have to say yes every time someone shoves a sign-up clipboard in your hands, or emails you a doodle poll, or corners you in the grocery store.

You can say no and walk (run) away. And it will be fine.

You don’t have to sign your little kids up for back-to-back sports practices. What do 3-year-olds even do at soccer practice? Train for the Olympics? Is this a thing now? Sports are great. Doing all of the sports? That’s just exhausting.

You don’t have to do that overnight trip for work. Well, there’s probably some you have to do if you want a paycheck. But I bet there’s a few where you’re the only one requiring it. I know you think you have to go because your co-workers are, but you don’t. You can just Google the topic later. And networking opportunities? I thought that’s what social media was for.  

You don’t have to wash all the laundry. Just do one load. Over and over and over. And it’ll be fine. Minimalism is “in” now. All of the smart, tech people from Silicon Valley wear the same outfits every day—you can, too.

You don’t have to turn your hobby into a hustle. It’s OK to let things be. Enjoy the crafting, the baking, and the dog walking. Don’t feel pressured to visit your local small business development center and sign the paperwork to start another to-do list. You’re in the business of motherhood, and you can enjoy things just to enjoy them.

You don’t have to do it all. I know there are lots of people shouting. Shouting to do everything. Your job, your anxiety, your sometimes-crazy in-laws. I bet the person shouting the loudest is you. But trust me. You can give yourself permission to say no.

Because here is the honest truth: NO is, in fact, a COMPLETE sentence.

No.

That’s right. You can say no and walk away. You can say no with no explanation. You can say no without harboring guilt. You can say no without pre-planning excuses.

No.

A no doesn’t mean never. It just means not right now.

Not right now because you don’t have to do all the things. Not right now because you’re tired—the kind of tired that seeps into your bones, darkens the skin under your eyes, and makes you forget to take care of yourself.

No.

No isn’t never. No is just go away from me while I eat my ice cream and take a nap. Leave me alone while I cuddle my baby and watch Netflix. Mind your own business, my leggings are comfy, and I’m sure Steve Jobs wore the same Paw Patrol shirt every day when he was a kid, too.

No.

Enjoy the moment without the pressure of mindfulness, meditation, and constant appreciation. Yes, those beautiful moments are precious. But sometimes things are just plain sucky. And that’s OK. It’s OK to say no.

You don’t have to do it all, mama. You don’t.

You may also like:

To the Mom Trying to Do It All, You’re In God’s Way

A Mother’s Mind Never Rests, Because We Carry The Mental Load

I Am The Keeper

Katelyn Stoll

Katelyn Stoll is a mother to three young boys and lives on a farm in rural NY. She navigates the rough waters of postpartum mood disorders using humor, support from her family, and chocolate. Lots of chocolate.