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?