Working on “Yes”

I say “no” a lot.

I have two four year olds. They ask to eat M & M’s for breakfast. They want to stay home from school to play video games. The enjoy playing on the stairs.

I have to say no a lot.

Last night Devra gave a talk at my preschool. I’ve known Devra for a long time now and I have heard her give several presentations on Mommy Guilt. I’ve read the book. This is not new information for me.

Every time I hear Devra give a talk I get something new out of it. Last night it was “Get used to saying “yes” more often.

It was just good timing. I’ve been working from home for a while now. The kids just came off of Spring Break and into a long weekend because of parent/teacher conferences. And I have been saying no even more than usual.

The other day in the car we were talking about what it was going to be like when they grew up.

Claudia said “When I’m a Mom I am going to say ‘Hold on a minute’ when I am working.”

It breaks my heart because I always tell them “hold on” and “in a couple of minutes” and “I’m working” and “no”.

So today I practiced saying “yes”.

When we went to the mall to get my contacts and they wanted to play in the play area I said “yes”. When we stopped at K-Mart to get something that the cats could scratch (I’m sick of telling the cats no too.) and they wanted to ride on the stupid nonsense .50 cent merry-go-round in front of the store I said “yes”. When they wanted to use the scanners at Giant I said “yes”. When they asked if they could get bubbles I said “yes”.yes_sky

Sure, our chores took us an extra hour, but the grocery shopping was actually kind of fun and I only ended up spending about an extra $1.50 on the day.

Yes, I ended up being crunched for time once we got home but it was worth it.

When I asked my children what they were going to tell Daddy we did today when he got home from work Claudia said “I got to ride the nonsense elephant with a hat in front of K-Mart.”

And as ridiculous as it sounds, at least she doesn’t have to tell him we did nothing. Again.

Because I said “yes”.

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  1. Ah, the “just a minute” thing is so familiar. The other day Owen asked “Mom, how long is a minute?” and I said “Hmm, not very long…” and he said “Then YOUR MINUTE IS OVER!”

    This is a nice reminder. Thanks.

  2. Yes is good.

  3. I totally get this, and got this piece of advice on parenting from my sister long before I had kids: “Ask yourself: ‘would it do any harm if I said yes?’ If not, say yes.” Example: Her kids noticed the giant puddles in the driveway after a thunderstorm, and asked to go jump in them. She thought for a moment, and then said, “Sure. Put your boots on first, and have fun.”

  4. My son is almost 13, but we still do a Day of Yes about once a year. He still loves it (I never tell him when it’s going to be)and not once in five years has he ever “taken advantage” of it, he only asks for reasonable activities / food / gifts (I think the biggest single thing he ever wrangled out of me on such a day was a $30 Lego set). He just digs knowing I will do anything his little head can dream up.

  5. I had terrible day at work and when I picked Michael up from school I took him for ice cream. He thought that was the coolest thing ever, even though it will probably spoil his dinner. Spontaneous yes is the best.

  6. Will you give me $5 and a six-pack of beer?

  7. I have been thinking about this a lot lately, especially because Ada wants things that normally I am fine with but are hard or impossible for me right now (swing me around, pretzel yourself into this play equipment). Okay, and the normal stuff too (I’m still holding firm on no candy for breakfast). I am trying to do what I can to make this a happy time for her, knowing that there will be a lot of unavoidable “hold on” once the babies come. Upping the yes when I can is great. It is funny that we have to work on this. (laughs at the idea of scribbling note to self: don’t forget to inject joy in day)

  8. It doesn’t sound ridiculous. You built memories with them, things they’ll remember forever (or at least for a day or two), and there’s never anything ridiculous about taking the time to do that =) Whatever word it takes.

  9. Sarah, I, too, am guilty of this “just a minute” and “no” practice. Thanks for this inspiring story. I need to make a more concerted effort to say “yes” to my boys. – Kevin

  10. Thank you. Hunt will be staying home for the summer with Beck and me starting in a few weeks, and I am kinda terrified. But haveing a ‘yes’ or two handy will help…

  11. Lovely positivity:) While my almost-three year old could, like DIE from a day of yes, a few extra messes and more attention would be fabulous.

  12. I gotta take a page from your book, dude. Like soon.

  13. it’s tough being a mom sometimes and even though I’m not one- hearing all these stories makes me appreciate my mom even more. sometimes its worth the extra few mins to really brighten your kid’s day with a ride or some bubbles. my parents once bought us a bucket of sidewalk chalk and my brother and i couldn’t have been happier. $5= endless fun for weeks on that stuff.

    congrats on saying yes a bit more often!

  14. “No” gets to be an automatic reflex, doesn’t it? I’m glad you are opting for more fun (for the kids AND for yourself). I am a million and two years old, and I still remember how sweet it was to hear Mom say “yes” when we begged her to play a game with us.

  15. Oh, I love this post. It’s advice I need too, so thanks for writing it. And thanks to Devra for inspiring it.

    Also, I bet Nanner was proud when she read it.

  16. I’m working on that too! It really is so much fun to say yes.

  17. Oh hun, I think I have the opposite problem. I say yes far too easily, and it’s not usually in response to merry go round rides, either.

  18. I just love this, and think its a great idea, one which I plan to utilise as well. I actually just wrote on my blog about motherguilt, which I have in spades, am I a good mother, do I bring joy to my childrens day? I also say no alot to things that are just plain crazy! But I plan to have a yes day, and just take it as it comes! Michelle

  19. Excellent post.

  20. Oh lawd, that mommy-guilt. It’s just such a soul sucker, innit?

  21. Aprylsantics says:

    I know this too well. Those “yes” days can be very liberating.

  22. Wow. There I was up at the podium postive you were sitting in the audience using your iPhone to Tweet about beer.

    I do think “no” becomes a knee jerk response and when we stop to actually consider what we are saying “no” to, we actually could turn it into a “yes” fairly easily. The payoff of adding more “yes” to your vocabulary is your kids will take your “no” far more seriously and the increase in “yes” adds to their own feelings of confidence.

    And for anyone who is wondering, I do talks like this all over the country and work with all sorts of budgets (or even free if there is no money and the need is great!)

  23. I’ve really been working on the “just a minute” thing too and I feel like such a better mommy when I just get up and do what they want without putting them off.

  24. Yes is the new no.

    (I’m not actually sure what that means, but I’m going with it.)

  25. I’ve been invoking the “Darius” effect lately. The It Won’t Be Like This for Long song is such a potent reminder that before we know it, they won’t be asking, looking or even around.

    Good for you!

  26. That’s cool. I might have to try that. I say no a lot too.

  27. I’ve got to work on saying yes to myself when I want something simple and inexpensive.

  28. I think this might be my favorite post of all you’ve written. Actually one of my fave posts in the blogodome. You’ve inspired me to say yes more often.

  29. <3 Love this

  30. What a wonderful post, and an important reminder. “No”, “In a minute”,”Hold on”, “Don’t do that”…Guilty as charged.

    I love the idea of a Yes Day!

    PS: Thanks for the stumble. It took some of the sting out of having those lovely pics posted all over the internetz.

  31. You’re so smart. xoxo

  32. Hilarious—and K Mart blows. Everytime I go in there I have to double up on antidepressants. Ha. Seriously, how do they still exist?

    Why having kids is fun: Statements like this—“I got to ride the nonsense elephant with a hat in front of K-Mart.”

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