Summer. Summer brings to mind the image of longer days, beaches, barbecue, and relaxation. Summer also brings invitations to a myriad of blockbuster parties, backyard barbecues, and beach gatherings. Not to mention the myriad of weddings both near and far that you're invited to attend. (Which come with a host of bridal showers and, if you're close to the bride, bachelorette parties.) If you're not careful, you'll end up over-committed and over-tired.
It can be hard to resist the urge to say yes to ALL THE THINGS, especially when all of them are good. It's something that I often struggle with, and I know things are bad when my extrovert husband drops hints about just wanting to stay home for an evening. We will both admit that there are times when it's important to say yes (like right now, when we're preparing to move, because we want to soak up the time we have with our people here.) However, as a general rule your body needs some TLC and you need to achieve a balance.
So what do you do when you get an invitation you need to decline?
There are a couple things that are important to remember when you get an invitation to an activity but already know you're stretched too thin. The first is often the hardest part for me:
Give yourself permission to admit to yourself that you're too busy.
Don't guilt trip yourself for being too busy to accept an invitation. If you're disappointed that you're missing out on something you would love to participate in, try to remember the feeling so that you can avoid committing to less-enticing thing in the future. If you learn to say no to things before you get over-committed, then you don't have to worry about missing out on the really fun stuff. However, if you've made a commitment to someone already, it's best if you go ahead and honor that commitment and don't guilt trip yourself. You're too busy for that, anyway.
Have a default response memorized so that you always know how to politely decline an invitation.
Don't spend time stressing about what to say. That just uses up time and energy that you could be fueling in to something relaxing. I've learned that my best, most genuine response goes something like this:
"Thank you SO much for thinking of me, but I'm afraid I'm committed elsewhere and won't be able to make it."
Or, if it's an offer for coffee or a movie night, you can go with something like this:
"I'm afraid that I'm already committed that night, but I would love to reschedule for a different date and time. Would ___________ work for you?"
Both of these suggestions communicate that you're committed, but still convey your appreciation for being invited.
"Committed elsewhere" does not have to mean a specific pre-existing event.
I like using the term "committed elsewhere" because it's definitive yet vague. A clashing event can be something large like a wedding or something smaller like a summer barbecue. It can also be a commitment to yourself that you're going to relax that night. A non-negotiable night of reading in a bubble bath or cuddling with your cat while binging on Netflix.
Saying no is a commitment to self-care. Commitment to not running yourself ragged so that you can actually enjoy the social commitments you've made (and hopefully stay on top of the dishes in the process.) Whatever you're committed to, it's important.
Remember, it's always better to RSVP a "no" than to not say anything at all.
It always makes me sadder when people just ignore an RSVP deadline than when they are honest and RSVP a considerate decline. (Of course, I'm always most happy when people can RSVP a yes!) It feels unthoughtful and then I have to decide if I'm going to use my time and energy to track them down for an answer or to hold out hope that they're actually coming.
As much as you might hate sending that decline, remember the stress relief that you are causing another person (albeit, mixed with a bit of disappointment) because they know which side of the line you're standing on. It's always more stressful to deal with someone who is in the grey area.
How do you handle saying no to invitations?