I’ve said No to my children forty-forty times and it’s not even 9 a.m. I know this because my kids tell me all the time, “You always say no,” accompanied by eye rolls and defeated tones in their voices. I decided I would prove them wrong and keep track. Turns out, I had to stop keeping track. They’re right. I say no way more than I say yes. If someone told me No almost fifty times by breakfast. I’d cry. I’d be frustrated. I’d feel about as important as an ant. My children might be little, but I think we need a bit more Yes in our routine.
I planned a Yes Day. A day I can’t respond with No more than ten times. I reserve the right for those situations where their safety is compromised. I’m not going to let them do handstands on top of a moving vehicle. I do let them run the show for a day. Here’s a glimpse of the result.
My kids say “We Want to…”
1. Eat Ice cream for breakfast. Don’t want to waste my first No before coffee so I let them eat ice cream. I compare the sugar content of one scoop vanilla ice cream (14g) with one cup of chocolate milk (24g). Hmmm…maybe I did them a favor.
2. Chase each other around the house (it’s 7 a.m.). Sure, why not? Run off the ice cream. They do. They laugh and they aren’t sitting in front of a television for their morning cartoon routine.
3. Make my coffee. My five-year-old in particular listens while I show him how to use the Keurig and then let him do the job. He beams.
4. Run outside in flip-flops. My daughter falls and scrapes her knee. She wants regular shoes. She also survives.
5. Dump stuffed animals over the stair rail. The laughter I hear from them is awesome. I add this to my rainy day activity list.
6. Not get dressed. I don’t say a word.
7. Go to the bounce house (in their pajamas). It’s a twenty-five minute drive. But today we go and the spontaneity is infectious.
8. Paint the front door. I use my first No.
9. Draw on the table with permanent marker. Second No.
10. Control the television remote. They mess up the configuration and can’t watch their movie. Bummer.
They get away with a lot throughout the day. They eat more junk than I want to allow. We do a rare post-dinner park playtime. I feel great though. The more I say, Yes, the more invigorated I feel. No is so often the go-to word in our house that I had feared taking a step back and loosening up some of the control I have over our routine would make my day tougher. The truth is, all those battles and fires we put out as parents are sometimes like the constant use of the word No and it becomes pointless. My kids enjoyed mixing up their schedule. We can do a modified version for the rest of the week, but I think I’ll be saying Yes, more this summer.