Why one mother is learning the power of 'no'

As the mother of 13-year old twins, a pediatrician and WebMD Medical Editor, Dr. Hansa Bhargava has grown used to saying "yes," no matter what the question. 

Both of her kids are doing well in middle school.

And, outside of class, their schedules are packed.

"My son does tennis, guitar, and he's in the yearbook club and the debating club," Bhargava says. "My daughter plays violin, basketball, likes fencing, and was in the drama production last year.  So, yeah they're busy."

Dr. Bhargava, like a lot of parents, wants her kids to be able to live full, balanced lives outside of school.

"Here's the thing, when your kids show interest in something, you want to try and make it happen," she says.

But a question from her son recently stopped Bhargava in her tracks.

They were coming off a very busy week at school.

"He had a weekend full of parties and dances and bar mitzvahs, and everything," she says.  "And he said, 'Mom, I'm so tired. Can't I just do nothing. and hang out with you, or just hang out at home?" And that did stop me in my tracks. It made me really stop and think about what I was doing."

Bhargava recently wrote a blog post for WebMD.com about her realization that her son was asking to slow down.

"Maybe he's overscheduled," she thought. "Maybe he actually needs time to breathe.  Maybe we all need time to breathe."

In her blog post, Bhargava sites a recent Pew Research Study that found over half of parents feel overstretched.

And she believes kids are feeling overscheduled, and overwhelmed, too. 

That's what her son was trying to tell her.

"When he said, that, I thought to myself, 'Wow.  That's really interesting. You don't want to do anything? When I was a kid, there were times I did not want to do anything,'" Bhargava says. "So, why have I forgotten that?  Why have we as parents forgotten that?"

Bhargava says learning to protect her personal time with the kids -- that downtime her son was craving -- has been a powerful experience.

"I think it's okay to say no to things because it allows "yes-es" to happen to the more important things," Bhargava says. "The more important thing is really not only to create reaction time for you and your kids, but also to create the time where you both can talk, as a family, or just one on one.  And that way you know what's going on in your child's brain."