Last month, I started saying yes to my kids more. I didn’t buy them everything they asked for, and I didn’t give them cookies for breakfast, but I decided to say yes to every random harmless thing I could. I should preface this by saying that we already said yes to randomness more often than not, we were already a board game playing, backyard mess making, one-more-story kind of family. The things I stopped saying no to were the things that either stopped the flow of my to do list, or added something new to it.
I’m pretty proud of usually getting my to do list done every day. Is that sad? Don’t answer that! So, I planned ahead a little and instead of doing what I might normally do in the time between my husband leaving for work and waking the kids, (like messing around on Facebook, doing my makeup slooooowly, and general puttering around), I did as much of my list as possible. Mostly, it’s my daily chores that I try to focus on getting done and only usually sacrifice for school time. In those precious two hours or so in the morning, I crisis clean through my list like someone I want to impress is on their way over. This greatly frees up time in the afternoon! By the time I get the littles up, all I really have to do is feed the kids breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks, cover their lessons for the day and make sure they all have a bath or shower and read. We do a whole lot more than that most days, but really that’s all that needs to be done.
I didn’t tell my kids I was doing anything differently, and I said yes to all the random things I would normally say yes to, like waffles for breakfast, having their friends over and cutting their sandwiches into swords. I also said yes to things that I normally would have said no to, like blowing bubbles in their milk. I don’t know why it bugs me, there isn’t really a good reason. So I said yes and guess what? They laughed and blew some bubbles and then stopped and drank their milk. The sky didn’t fall and they didn’t turn into rude yokels (which is maybe what I thought would happen if I let them). I try to keep it tidy around here, so blowing bubbles in their milk to me = yet another clean up. The reality of it was a simple wipe down, no puddles, no big deal.
I also let them hunt for bugs in the front yard barefoot. I know. I always insist they at least have flip flops on, but then I figured they would need a bath from digging around in the dirt anyway, so was it really hurting anything by letting them do it? I know so many mothers will read this and just think it’s such a non issue, why even mention it? For me though, bare feet in the dirt = spontaneous bath = splash clean up = the possibility they will get dirty again before bedtime. The reality of this one was surprising. It was mid/late afternoon when they went out bug hunting, and yes I did put them in the tub the second they came inside.
They don’t usually have a mid-afternoon bath, so they had a blast with that, they got extra bubbles and favorite bath toys and goggles and when they were done they jumped right into pajamas and had a really laid back afternoon. This lead to a seriously calm evening! We did some lazy reading on the couch in the living room, and then a word search in a blanket fort. We worked on some needle felting and got totally off course watching You Tube videos on felting techniques. Not a bad day!
They didn’t ask for anything special at dinner and knowing they all love spaghetti that’s what I made, (even though, confession, I don’t actually like spaghetti at all). They set the table as they usually do but didn’t bicker (as they usually do) possibly because they were so happy from random fun or maybe they were just tired. We hosted two playdates on this first day so that probably had something to do with it.
They ate dinner without issue and bedtime was smooth sailing. Generally, my littlest does not love bedtime. She’s great at going along with the routines, but as we transition from one thing to the next she protests. They’re really cute protests and there’s a lot of Positive Discipline choices going on during our hour to an hour and a half bedtime routine but we swim through pretty smooth and she’s sleeping peacefully by 8:30ish. This first ‘yes’ day, though? She didn’t give me any protesting at all, she just happily went from tidy up to teeth and hair brushing, she chose her 4 books and climbed up into bed!
It’s been exactly a month since I started saying yes to more randomness and as silly as it sounds, I swear it’s making me a better parent, and the kids are different too – this even applies to my 14 year old! I can’t explain why it has the effect that it does. I don’t know why my 6 year old goes to bed smoother on days when I say yes to drawing an eyeliner kitty face on her, but she does. Or why my 9 year old works through her lessons with a new level of detail after I say yes to spending the morning testing out play doh recipes. My 14 year old is happy to hang out with his sisters when I am in and out doing laundry and I am happy to say yes to (almost) midnight snacks. It’s not these specific things, sometimes instead of a kitty face, my 6 year old’s post-breakfast request is to play a game of bingo before we start school, or my 14 year old will suggest we go for slushies after lunch to break up the day. Whatever their little requests are, as long as they are manageable I will continue to say yes to them.