My husband recently relayed a request to me from his out-of-town friend who asked if he could stay with us for a weekend this month. I looked at him and shook my head.
“You know what month it is,” I said.
“November?” he replied cautiously.
“Not quite,” I reminded him. “It’s NO-vember. Please tell him he’s welcome any month except this one.”
“I can’t do that,” he said. “It’s rude.”
It’s not rude. At least I don’t think so. Allow me to explain.
Fall is my favorite time of year. I love September. I love the return to structure after the carefree days of summer. With cool weather just around the corner, I enjoy getting my family back on a schedule. School begins for my son and, as a result, so do proper bedtimes for him, my husband and me.
What I don’t love is how frantic things quickly become and the numerous directions I suddenly find myself pulled in. It starts with back-to-school shopping and escalates from there: football practices and games, cross-country practices and meets, game snacks, raffle tickets, birthday parties, Halloween parties. Then there’s the money I have to lay out at every turn: art fees, books fees, donations to the school fundraiser, new cleats, coaches gifts, teacher appreciation gift (That last one kills me—it’s only the first week of school!).
Meanwhile, in my professional life, the pace also picks up. I work in a cyclical industry that traditionally slows down during the summer months and shifts into high gear after Labor Day. It’s a welcome shift, of course—bring it on!—and I’m happy to say yes to nearly everything that crosses my desk, but I seek balance by taking the opposite approach in my personal life.
That’s why I celebrate NO-vember. For 30 days—before the nonstop December whirlwind—I give myself permission to say no to everything, with zero guilt. No matter the request, no matter who asks, my response is the same: No. A polite but firm, “No.” Can I please be on a committee to run a local charity gala? Can I please help organize a tailgate party? Can a friend stay with us for a weekend? No, no and no. “I’m sorry,” I say, “but I’m celebrating NO-vember. Feel free to ask me for help in December.”
My husband has a love/hate relationship with NO-vember. He loves the blank calendar but still isn’t comfortable saying no. I’m not completely heartless—I actually do say yes on occasion, but I’m selective about when I do. No, I won’t host Thanksgiving, but, yes, I’d be happy to contribute homemade cranberry sauce, cornbread stuffing or sweet potatoes.
See how easy that is? Give yourself a month to recharge—it’s only 30 days, and you’ve earned it. Just say no.