Somedays, life seems to be like a game of calendar chess, moving this appointment here, adding this get-together there, canceling, rescheduling, and then feeling like you need another weekend just as Sunday comes to a close. Life is full, everyone feels that, I think. But I also think that some are innately better at saying "no" to certain invitations and events and are skilled at filling their calendar to the "just right" line.
When faced with an rsvp card or a general invite, I've begun going through an internal checklist of sorts, asking myself the following questions.
1. How would my (or our) going impact my family? My time with my husband is really precious to me because it isn't every weekend, or evening, that he is free from work. So when he is free I don't like to be away. Call us attached at the hip, but it is rare that I will trade a night with him for anything else. If I attend something alone, Charlie is usually perfectly happy at home with Michael, but I most certainly consider what is best for his needs when deciding if I or our family should add an event to the calendar. Considering the potential stress and chaos is something I think on.
2. How well do I/we know the person? I've been invited to many a bridal or baby shower where the guest of honor is barely an acquaintance; meaning: I am not even sure how to spell their last name. If I'm almost certain that I/we will not be missed at a party, then I tend to shy away from adding the affair to our calendar. On the other hand, if we've been feeling isolated and needing more community, getting to know a new person or couple can be the perfect addition to our week.
3. How does it effect my finances? Again, in the example of a baby shower, attendance would most definitely mean bringing a gift. Now usually if someone is a good friend and you are unable to attend their bridal shower/baby shower/birthday party, it would still be kind to send them a gift anyways. Generosity, when possible, is best.
4. How time consuming is it? I like to consider drive time, the duration of the event/party/dinner, and whether or not it may infringe greatly on nap times/bed times.
Now, I realize that all of these questions are inherently selfish. Sometimes, even if the list of Cons is a mile longer than the list of Pros, it can still be better to do what serves someone else. Other times, though, it can be be better to consider what is best for your family and their needs, so as not to live running here, there, and everywhere.
I find it difficult to say no to someone. I sometimes agonize over potentially hurting their feelings. But the easiest thing I've found for me to say is something like "My calendar is pretty full right now and I'm trying to get better about not over-scheduling myself." As my sister recently told me, saying no to a bunch of little things means you can keep yourself open for something more meaningful, or to saying yes when someone really needs you.