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Local Column

Cheeky Mama: Saying 'no' for sanity's sake

On good days I go to bed around 7:30 p.m. and then wake up around 4:30 a.m.

Getting at least eight to nine hours of sleep is a necessity for me, especially during the week.

It is a problem when I don’t get enough rest. I am grumpy. I have a voracious appetite and I look ragged.

Recently, I have not been able to get my rest. It has become very trying to get all that I need done and still get adequate sleep.

I started a class with National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) on Wednesday nights in hopes of teaching the class at some point. The class starts at 7 p.m. and ends at 9 p.m., then I have to drive home from Good Samaritan Hospital in Downers Grove, so that puts me home by 10:15 p.m.

At my school, out in Naperville, we hosted an open house. This lasted from 7 to 8:30 p.m., then I had to commute home, which took about 45 minutes.

I have shifted my therapy appointment to 5 to 6 p.m., so this only gives me an hour and a half to spend time with my family before going to bed.

My point is, I am a zombie.

Trying to do everything is impossible. I have to learn to say “no” to various commitments and events.

I want to have it all, but is it worth giving up my sleep or health?

I know most mamas and even daddies feel this way. We put on a brave and happy facade to please everyone but ourselves.  

We need to start learning to say “no.”

Will we end up disappointing people? Will some folks think we are selfish? Probably. Will some people get angry with us? Maybe.

I guess learning to accept these displeasing side effects is a part of gaining our sanity back. 

Overextending myself will only lead to dissatisfaction in many areas of my life. Trying to do everything for everyone won’t allow me to give 100 percent.

Spreading myself too thin not only affects my physical health, but will affect my mental and social health, too.

I need to prioritize what really matters in my life. This includes an adequate amount of sleep, eating well, spending time with family and trying to grow professionally.  

Other extracurricular activities need to be sidelined. Even if some people don’t understand, I still need to be a big girl and say “no.”

• Becca Hirst is a proud DeKalb resident who writes about her life as a working mother. She hopes to bring more enjoyment to and less shaming and judging of herself and other mothers. Reach her at

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