It’s OK to Say No: Missing Out on FOMO*

*FOMO: Fear of Missing Out, a condition often brought on by social media.

I don’t know about you, but many weeks—well, let’s be honest, all weeks—are a juggernaut of school, work, activities, appointments, errands, commitments, and events. Some days you’re not sure how you’ll make it to the kids’ bedtime, let alone your own.

Those days pile together so that by Friday, you (and your family) are exhausted. And then there’s the weekend: birthday parties, play dates, practices, games, activities, and whatever “must-see” events are going on in our busy city. So you dig down into your depleted energy reserve and push forward, as you just can’t miss fill-in-the-blank, and you can’t say no that invitation or get-together.

Now, the holidays… (Cue the scary music and wide-eyed look of fear. Don’t count the days that are left. Just don’t.)

The holiday rush isn’t limited to December anymore. Did anyone notice the plethora of must-see/must-do events for Halloween this year? The last two weeks of October have been a mad rush, and no, my zombie look is not a costume. I have barely survived. Soon it will be November and the real rush will be on. The pressure is already there: holiday plans, parties, events, and must-sees.

It’s OK to Say No-

How can you possibly say no to getting the kids together to make pilgrim hats and cornucopias out of toilet paper rolls, construction paper and popsicle sticks? Don’t you have to pop by the neighborhood get-together (with the perfect appetizer to share, naturally, because Pinterest is your friend, right)? How can you say no to that birthday party for that kid…what’s his name again? You don’t know because your child has never talked about that kid before but now MUST attend the party. And absolutely EVERYONE is going to be at the festival/parade/party/dinner/girls’ night, so you have to go.

Nope. You can miss it. Really, you can. You can miss fill-in-the-blank, and you can say no. The world won’t end. Your membership in the Cool Mom Club will not be revoked. It really is OK to say no and stay home.

I get your hesitation. Surely you can’t miss something, can you? Will your children recover if they miss that trip to the fair or happen to be the one kid who doesn’t have the thrill of creating a macaroni twisty tie necklace at playgroup? Can your reputation survive if you don’t attend Moms’ Night Out? Will your friends still talk to you if you’re not able to make that impromptu wine and cheese thing?

You might want to sit down as this may shock you, but yes. It really is OK. You can say no. You can miss out. And you’ll survive. As a matter of fact, it may be the secret that keeps you alive through the insanity that is ahead this holiday season or even the cyclone of craziness that can unfurl during a typical week.

I say this as someone who has been in your shoes. I struggle to keep those shoes off of my feet. After all, those shoes look cute and fun—they make everyone think you really can do it all, as they carry you to cool events and make sure you take awesome pictures and keep you, or your littles, from missing out on something, right? But kick those shoes off and breathe easy.

Fear of Missing Out, or FOMO in our world where we don’t have the time or patience to actually type out complete words, is real. And it’s exacerbated by social media. Where we once might have said no because we didn’t have time and then gone on happily minding our own business, we are now punished by pictures and status updates from those who attended whatever we didn’t manage to fit in or, frankly, just weren’t up for or interested in.

Yet those pictures and status updates become evil voices whispering in our ears: Look at this perfect picture with the pumpkins at the festival you didn’t go to. See how happy they look? You should have been there. Your child should have been there. Or: Did you read that status update—the one that said it was the best night ever? That’s right, you missed out. You’ll never attend anything as cool as that again. You’re not in the cool club. And by the way, everyone’s talking about the fact that you didn’t go.

So how do you handle that? You might want to sit down again for this one, but IT’S ALL IN YOUR HEAD. Really. No one is judging you but yourself. That’s why the evil voice is in your head—no one else can hear it. And even if someone is judging you, who cares? They’re not managing your calendar or commitments; you are.

Cut yourself some slack. That’s something we moms tend to have trouble with, but the world is more elastic than we give it credit for, and we can afford to give ourselves more wiggle room than we think. Before you say yes to something, look at the calendar and know what you can manage—and enjoy. Why make yourself—and your littles—miserable by shoe-horning too much in? Your kids are often as tired and ready for some stay-at-home time as you are. An evening of movies, games, and popcorn with Mom and Dad makes way more memories than being thrown in the car and shuttled around.

During the October rush, the skies opened up and flooded out many San Antonio events and plans. Suddenly, must-do events were postponed or cancelled altogether. While it meant we were trapped in the house for a rainy weekend (a mom challenge of a different sort), it also meant that another mom, Mother Nature, had freed us from our commitments at a time when our little family needed it. Sure, some events were still scheduled and I know people who trudged on, but our crew stayed home. And you know what? I should have posted pictures, as everyone else was really missing out.

An Army brat who came to Texas for college and ultimately managed to make the Lone Star State her permanent home, Dawn became a mom “AMA” (advanced maternal age), giving her the opportunity to use a stroller vs. a walker as she navigates the world of motherhood. Her growing up way too fast native Texan loves all things Star Wars, Legos, dinosaurs and keeping his parents on their toes. When she’s not busy parenting the original strong-willed child, Dawn runs Tale to Tell Communications, a San Antonio-based PR and marketing agency. An award-winning writer, Dawn also contributes to San Antonio Woman, Rio Magazine and Texas Lifestyle Magazine. She and her family enjoy exploring all that San Antonio has to offer, going on adventures and playing tourist together as much as possible. Favorite Restaurant: Clementine Favorite Landmark: The beauty of the River Walk, especially La Villita Favorite San Antonio Tradition: Celebrating anything and everything with color, music and food