How I Became a “Yes” Mom

Bean is three years old. Which means a large part of my day is spent telling him no.

No, you cannot bring those rocks inside.
No, you cannot wear slippers to church.
No, you cannot have pretzels for breakfast.
No, you cannot take your sister’s toy.
No, you cannot pull the tablecloth off the table.

It’s a “No” world when you’re three years old.

I’m not really sure what got me to pay attention to it, but I started to count how many times in a day I said no to Bean. And it was a lot. So much that I lost count and started to annoy myself.

It’s true that there are a lot of things that I simply must say no to when dealing with my kids, and especially with Bean’s curiosity and imagination. No, he really can’t put SweetTarts in his cereal or drop his toys from the second floor landing into Gracie’s pack ‘n play on the first floor. But I noticed that there were a fair amount of times when I said no that really could have been a yes.

With all those necessary no’s out there for my sweet, creative, curious little Bean, maybe I could eliminate some of the unnecessary ones. And so, I have started to try to become a “yes” mom.

To me, a “yes” mom is a mom who’s first response is yes, instead of no. Instead of thinking of reasons NOT to do something, I’ve been trying to think of reasons TO do things. Usually, they are small things. Bean will ask if he can play with PlayDoh and instead of automatically saying, “Not right now buddy…” (PlayDoh is so messy!) I say yes. He will ask if he can bring one of his toys plastic into the bathtub. Normally, I would say no because…well…you just don’t bring toys other than bath toys into the tub. But why not? They dry. So, I say yes. Which is how this weekend when we were out running errands, we ended up randomly at Dick’s Sporting Goods. Bean asks every time we pass by if we can go in and play (he likes the golfing putting green and all the sports stuff he can play with) and I always say no because we’re in the middle of my to-do list. But this weekend I thought, “Well, why not?” So, I said yes. And we stopped as a family for 15 minutes into the sporting goods store and just played!



And then a crazy thing happened. I started having more fun, too! The more I said yes, the more fun we had! Now, when Bean asks if we can go do something big, like go to the splash park even though we’ve already been three times that week, I say sure! Why not?!?! Or, if we’ve had a big morning out with a friend or doing an activity, and he asks if we can play in the pool when we get home instead of eating lunch and taking naps right away, I say alright! Even if we only get to play for a little bit, it’s still more fun to say yes than to say no. Last week he asked if we could go to Disney. I thought about that for a minute because we don’t have season tickets, so I can’t get us into the park on a whim. But why couldn’t we go play at Downtown Disney, which is free? So, I said yes! And while we were there, he asked if he could ride the train and the carousel (which I’ve never let him do before because I had Gracie) and I said, “Yes! We’ll all ride!”

Part of saying yes more now means that sometimes I do have to say, “Yes, but we have to do _________ first.” Yes, we can stand in the front yard and shoot passing cars with the water hose (don’t worry – the water isn’t strong enough to actually reach them, but Bean thinks it’s hysterical), but we have to finish our breakfast like a big boy first. Or, yes we can have a picnic lunch at the park, but we have to clean up all of our toys first.” And sometimes, saying yes means that I have to say, “Yes, but we have to wait until ___________.” Yes, we can go to Nana and Granddad’s house, but we have to wait until the weekend. Yes, we can have a friend over, but we have to wait until tomorrow. Waiting or having to complete a chore first teaches Bean that sometimes we can’t have everything we want right when we want it, and for the most part he’s been pretty good with that. He likes working towards a goal that he has set or waiting for a specific event that he has chosen.

I have found that becoming a “yes” mom has changed my own outlook on things, too. I find myself looking for small little surprises that I might not normally have done before. Having a cookie at the mall from Mrs. Fields (heavenly!), stopping at Pinkberry for frozen yogurt on our way home from the park, eating dinner outside instead of at the kitchen table. Small little “yes” experiences that are just downright fun! Truly, it has made this summer one of my most favorite and most memorable.

We have been going 90 miles an hour for the past two weeks because of this new yes thing. We’re staying up a little later, skipping a few nap times, and eating one too many scoops of ice cream, but why the heck not? It’s summer! I only have a few more weeks home with my kids before we go back to the normal routine, so why not say yes as much as I can? And I think being able to say yes even though our routine will return to normal in the fall is going to be the key to breaking up the monotony of the daily grind. Bean used to always ask to go to the splash pad after school and I always said no before, but now that I think about it, why not say yes? I think little yes’s are slowly changing our family, and I know they are changing me. Maybe soon I’ll become a “yes” person and not just a “yes” mom.

Would that make me happy?


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19 Thoughts to “How I Became a “Yes” Mom”

  1. Grandma

    You both are such good parents!

  2. Meghan

    it is easy to fall into the habit of saying no when yes is perfectly appropriate….maybe it’s not exactly what we as parents would choose or do, but our kids think differently! And it is more fun to say yes….I try to remember to “pick my battles” and that makes the no’s more effective, I think. But I have been saying “no” a lot more recently too…..thanks for the reminder to try to say yes more. 🙂

  3. Great post – and perfect reminder on ways to be an even better mom! Thanks for all the great tips… While it’s so easy to get stuck in the day to day routine, you help remind me of things we should all consider to make ourselves (and our kids) better. SUCH a great blog!!

  4. Sometimes I feel this same way about my husband…particularly in regards to hobbies he has that I’m not interested in. Lately I’ve started saying “Yes!” to going to shoot guns with him, and not only do we both have a great time together, but I see him open up to me more in other ways. I can also seeing it making my kinder classroom a happier place. 😉 Thanks for sharing!

  5. Melissa

    This is exactly how my dad was with me and my sister. My mom would always say, “No, well, let me think about it.” My dad always said, “Yes, if…” As the kids get older, you’ll find that saying “yes” has GREAT repercussions. Our dad always said, “My answer to you will always be yes unless I think it will hurt you because I want you to have all the things and experiences that you want, but it’s my job to keep you safe.” Our friends were always amazed by the things we were allowed to do (skip school to see an Aerosmith concert? sure!) , and by the things we weren’t allowed to do (late night party in the middle of nowhere? no, there are drunks on the road).

    Because our parents said yes so often, there was never anything that we tried to hide from them. When they did say no, we knew that there was a very good reason for it, so there was minimal fussing.

  6. I love this. I am going to try it!! YES.

  7. Nikki

    What an awesome post! As a soon to be first time mother, I’m trying to soak up all of the information that I can, and this I will definitely try to remember!

  8. Angie

    This is a great reminder! As a preschool teacher, I really tried to follow this as much as I could, and now as a mom, I do too. Recently we were with another family on vacation that definitely is of the “no” variety (if that works for them, great!) and I felt like a horrible mom. I instantly started questioning my parenting and everything I was doing. I felt like I should say no to my little guy if the other family was, or I’d be the mom who didn’t care about her kid.

    Toward the end of the vacation I noticed myself saying no a lot more, and I felt like all of a sudden I wasn’t having any fun- so my little boy couldn’t have been either! That was a wake up call.

    Then when we came home I thought, “You know what? I have a happy, healthy, well-adjusted child. That’s all that matters.” And I definitely say yes to a lot of things, as long as my little guy is going to be safe. We let him explore a little more than some kids, but we’re always right there to keep him safe. This works for us, it’s fun for all of us, and my kid is happier for it- which means we’re ALL happier for it!

  9. colleen

    I love this post. I wish everyone would say yes more! I am on ‘vacation’ surrounded by a bunch of people telling my son ‘no’. As in, ‘No, don’t put sand in that bucket that the frog is in’. And I’m the one overridding their ‘no’s. I’m having to say ‘The frog can handle a little sand in the bucket’. I wish everyone tried to say ‘yes’ a bit more. Thank you for such a timely post.

  10. I 100% agree with you and I try to be a yes mom too. I find that when I want to say no, are the times that I really just want to rush off to something for me or to the next thing. It often hinders letting my kid be a kid. Saying yes has taught me to slow down and enjoy the little things and little moments and has reminded me the joys of being child like. We were leaving my doctors appointment the other day and I am 23 weeks preggo with #2. My two year old wanted to high five EVERY ONE of the 18 people in the waiting room. I was quite impatient in the 30 extra minutes it took us to get to the car, but she was so proud and it made everyone elses day that the whole way home, I was thinking about this same principle. Here I was about to take that joy from her and from others but WHY? So I could hurry home?? Why not let her be a kid and enjoy the moment. We too try to let her know though that she cant have everything she always wants – or that she has to behave or do what mommy and daddy ask first. Its a great way to teach them discipline and reward and to let them be kids!

  11. Andrea in Missouri

    We have made a change in our household as well this summer! I’ve always been pretty strict about getting our nearly 2 year old into bed at 9:00 sharp, even if he crys a little because he’s not ready to go. This summer, we’ve been out doing things (swimming at Grandma’s, playing in the park) later so we’ve been getting home at about 8 or 9. So bedtime for the summer at least is now 9:30 or so. This has greatly improved my mindset, since I’m not watching the clock thinking “Only 20 minutes before bedtime! Must keep to the schedule!”. 🙂 Even though our work schedules are the same year-round, it has really made for a relaxed, spontaneous summer.

  12. What a great reminder! I am a mom to a 15 month old and it is easy to get into a “no-rut.” This will help me remember to save “no” for truly unsafe situations and try to say “yes’ first! thank you!

  13. I think that I could totally benefit from adding a little “Yes” to my life. I always hold back from saying yes to future plans because I’m afraid that when the day comes I will regret having made plans to hang out with that person or go do a task that I don’t really consider fun. I need to branch out more and say “YES!”

  14. […] it has changed what I eat, how I view myself, choices I make for my family, and even how often I say yes to things.  Showing myself that I can do something that I never thought I could do before has […]

  15. I love this post! I am really aware, too, of how often I say no to Eli. I, too, try to say yes to things that are totally doable, even if I don’t particularly want to do that thing. It makes a toddler’s life so much more fun!

  16. La.

    Oh thank you! What a great reminder! Sometimes I feel so negative and it truly doesn’t need to be that way.

  17. Meredith

    Is it strange that we have a little campaign at work to remind people to cultivate other people’s ideas? It’s exactly what you described here. When someone presents a new idea, you CAN NOT say NO! You have to say ‘Yes and…’ and build on it. Maybe later they’ll realize its a horrific idea but stifling everyone’s ideas early on only hinders creativity and eventually, people won’t offer anything. It’s definitely helped! Perhaps I should extend this into other areas of my life. Sounds like it’ll be fun!

  18. Rebekah G.

    recently, my son (4) asked if he could sleep on the couch!! i let him! I mean, really…what is it going to hurt to let him sleep on the couch?? although my husband didn’t necessarily approve, i agree with your logic. i get tired of saying no so much that its nice to say “yes” to little things.

  19. […] fly when work starts back in ONE WEEK!  It will be a real challenge to see how much of a (Yes Mom) I can be while […]

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