I’m sure I’m not the only one who has been asked by a friend or relative to help them out in times of need. Growing up my Dad, who used to be a Roofer before he retired, was always getting calls to go round and help someone out in times of need which he always gladly did (much to the annoyance of my Mum). He always did the job for the cost of the materials because he liked to help people out and knew what it was like to be strapped for cash.
Maybe because I always saw him do so, it was a natural progression that I do exactly the same myself (much to the annoyance of my other half!) I am quite happy to help out friends and Family where I can and as my Dad did always do the job for the cost of the materials.
Because I can sew, knit, crochet, craft & bake I have always been in demand to create items for people’s homes, babies, parties and events. And to be honest, it was a brilliant creative outlet for me as I had a demanding job in local government where I was stuck behind a desk most of the day. So being asked to use my hands instead of my brain was a welcome break. I always used to joke that my hands got jealous of my brain as they had very little to do (apart from hold a pen and tap a keyboard). I would quite happily work into the early hours of the morning making stuff for other people for the reason that I felt like if the shoe was on the other foot they would do the same for me.
Since starting my own business I am still often asked to help out friends and family, which I do, but some seem to think that because I am self-employed I have all the time in the world to carry out the tasks they have asked me to help them with. They think that because I don’t answer to anyone I can just do things when I feel like it and drop everything when they need me.
Now I don’t want to sound mean and while I don’t mind helping out anyone in their time of need, especially close friends who have always been there for me, I feel it’s a bit unfair of them to expect me to make their curtains, bake their cakes, make their invitations etc. (delete as appropriate) with very little or no notice.
As I am self-employed I often work into the evening (It’s now 11.30pm! and I have been at it since 9am this morning) because I don’t have a boss I have to do everything from the accounts to the admin and everything in between and I no longer have a regular income to rely on. Now while this was my choice and I love it (I don’t know why I didn’t do it earlier) I just haven’t got the same amount of free time anymore to create all those things that I used to when I had a 9-5 desk job. My so called free time is taken up with trying to earn some money to pay the mortgage (and support my ribbon obsession – I don’t know I just like it) and the constant requests to “bake me a cake, make me a card, make me a dress and now plan my wedding have had to be met with a firm “ I’m sorry I can’t.”
Now some have completely understood and been fine, others (who shall remain nameless, but you know who you are) have been upset that I have refused to help and have gone off in a huff.
I am sad that they feel so upset and I’m also upset that they haven’t offered to help me with stuff that I’m struggling with at the moment. Part of me feels that I should do what they’ve asked and part of me feels like I should stand my ground, I’m torn. I hate feeling like this. How do you say no without offending people?