Why Everyone Needs A “Yes Day”

I used to be fun and spontaneous. It’s not that you can’t be those things after you become a mom, but they morph into “responsible” and “flexible”, which really aren’t the same at all when you’re faced with the daily workings of motherhood. Even though it’s my job to say “no”, and I do it for their own good day in and day out, it gets old. It gets comfortable and easy. Eventually, it becomes a reflex – shooting out of my mouth before the kids are finished asking for something; even before their requests have time to register in my brain. 

I realized one day that we all, myself included, needed a little break from the constant – yet well-intentioned – stream of “no” that starts before sunrise and lasts into the hours after bedtime. I got the idea from Jennifer Garner, who got the idea from this book, and today I’m sharing how to I like to implement it. It doesn’t weaken my position as a mother or authority figure, nor does it encourage them to become more spoiled, privileged or entitled than they already are…it’s just one day out of 365 where we plan to have no plans other than whatever fun we can dream up before bedtime.

The first rule of Yes Day is that we don’t talk about Yes Day.

My kids don’t know when it’s coming; they just know it happens ONCE per calendar year. On that day of days (which happened to be today), I simply say “yes” to their early morning requests. They are responsible for catching on as the day progresses – (yes, I will make you three breakfasts – you sure are hungry today! yes, you can eat cheese balls and play video games at 10am on a Thursday! yes, we can take grandma to lunch! yes, we can go get ice cream! <– that’s when they realized what was going on) and I will only tell them it’s a Yes Day if they ask me point blank.

The second rule of Yes Day is that we can break a few rules, but we can’t break the law.

No, you can’t ride in the front passenger seat, 4-Year-Old Child. No, we can’t swim in the neighbors’ pool while they’re at work. The kids know Yes Day isn’t a free pass to break all the rules – it’s a free pass for good, clean fun. They have to agree on each activity, and if a fight breaks out? Yes Day gets cancelled. Guess who can suddenly manage to get along without a single argument? 

The third rule of Yes Day is that we don’t spend over X amount of money.

My original budget was $100, then $50…but we haven’t come close. Last year it cost nothing and this year’s event set me back a whopping $35.34. You might find, as I did, that your children aren’t seeing dollar signs flash in front their eyes when they realize it’s a Yes Day. They’re more inclined to ask for as many of their favorite foods, favorite toys, and favorite people as you can cram into one day – it becomes a race to see how much you can do before bedtime.

So what does a Yes Day look like at our house? Here’s a recap:

5:30 am – 4-year-old wants to play his tablet on a no-screen day: YES!
6:00 am – 7-year-old hears brother’s tablet and asks for hers: YES!
7:30 am – I wake up 2 hours past my usual time, because YES DAY, YES PLEASE!
8:00 am – I have made 6 breakfasts of varying degrees of healthfulness.
10:00 am – The kids play XBOX while eating Cheese Balls – I exercise for 75 glorious, peace-filled minutes.
11:00 am – The kids ask for lunch at Chick-Fil-A (YES).  4-year-old wants to wear his Storm Trooper costume (YES). This all seems too easy, so they ask for grandma to come (YES). They throw caution to the wind and ask for ice cream afterwards (YES!)…disappearing down the hall, I hear whispers. They come running back to kitchen, “Is this a Yes Day?!?!?!?!” 

YES! Sweet mercy, it took you long enough! Now the real fun can start.

11:45 – “Can we drive daddy’s new car?” YES. Can we listen to Star Wars music? Yes.
Noon – “Can we have Dr. Pepper?” I really want to say no, but YES. “Can we play in the playplace?” Yes, if you want to catch influenza. They pass.
1:00 pm – We’re playing at that park we always drive by but never stop to visit.
1:30 pm – We’re eating ice cream.
2:15 pm – We’re jumping at Aviate.
4:00 pm – “Can we have cookies and popcorn for dinner?” Yes
5:00 pm – “Can we share a soda?” Seriously, again? Yes. “Can we have mac & cheese?” Yes.
6:00 pm – “Can we play laser tag outside?” Yes.
6:30 pm – “Can we put on our suits and go swimming in the big bath tub?” Yes.
7:00 pm – “Can we stay up late reading books?” Yes.
8:00 pm – House silent except for snoring children.
11:00 pm – Snoring children are now in my bed…because Yes Day.

I’m sure there are a few things I forgot, but that was the gist of it. Twice I felt that old, knee-jerk “no” attempt to shoot out of my mouth when they were planning our next move, but I didn’t say it. It was such a relaxing and enjoyable day, free of “No” and her BFF “Because I’m the mom…”

We laughed and played, and the only vegetable they ate was French fries. They declared it The Best Yes Day Ever (not hard, since we’ve only had two), and have already started dreaming about next year.

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