This photo is a mirror of myself. Of me saying, "No" all day long. I remember reading some statistic long before I had kids that parents say "no" to their kids like a billion times a day. (actually it was a few hundred but I can't find the study...anyone?) At that time I was determined not to be one of those negative parents. I'd always say YES and parenting would be all rainbows and butterflies. And then I had kids.
Inspired by some of Joyce Fetteroll's thoughts on yes I declared (to myself) that yesterday was the "Day of Yes" and that I would say yes or some form of it rather than be lazy and make excuses that benefited only me. I was testing it out. Not even quite sure I could pull it off for one day quite honestly. With a one year old and a four year old I was sure I'd have to sprinkle some "no" around.
Of course if my one year old was climbing up on a table and about to jump off onto a bed of spikes I wouldn't say "yes" like an idiot. That is where people get stuck on this I think. Take it to extremes. It isn't really like that. You still have to provide safety and guidance but you can do so by redirecting and explaining clearly that something isn't safe. Or reserve "no" for occasions like those so it still holds weight.
So I tried it out. I said yes to painting outside. Yes to playing in the sandbox. Yes to pouring water into the sandbox to make a beach. Yes to being silly. Yes to dress up. Yes to a lollipop. Yes to pretend play. Yes to digging through the closet to find a new game. Yes to going outside to see if we could find the moon.
At first it was exhausting. And then it was fun. And revealing.
At one point my eldest was painting at the table and my youngest was having a snack in his high chair. I was sweeping. My eldest said, "Mama? You're the best Mama."
He hasn't ever said that to me. And at that moment I actually felt like it was true.
The thing is, none of the things I said "yes" to are that big of a deal. I don't have a problem with any of it, it wasn't like he asked me to take him to a toy store to buy all new toys or something ridiculous. However, on other days I may have made excuses. I'd say "no" to pouring water in the sandbox when the real reason was because I had just swept the floors and I didn't want him dragging sand inside. Sure, I could just brush him off before going in or ask him to take off his clothes before going in or just do a quick sweep up after there is sand on the floor. Or let there be sand on the floor for a few days. Who cares? When did I become so lazy that it causes me to say "no" and inhibit my children from having fun?
So what would I have done if he asked for something that I couldn't make happen? Well, he did ask if we could go to Las Vegas. We went a year ago and he has been wanting to go back ever since. I replied that "Yeah, wouldn't that be fun? I wish we could too. What would you want to do there this time?" This lead to a whole conversation about Skee-Ball and other games and about swimming in pools and spicy Thai food. Instead of just shutting him down by saying, "No, we can't go to Vegas today" my response engaged him. We chatted, we connected. What world of difference having to think around the word "no" makes.
So I dare you to have a Day of Yes of your own and see where it leads you.
For me, I'm going to say "yes" more often.
What about you? Do you ever catch yourself saying "no" too often? Or do you make a point of saying "yes" to your kids?