I’m a mom of two kids, a 4-year-old and a 1-year-old. You can imagine the number of things I am asked in a day (like 4,632 questions a minute), most of which are crazy and impossible. However, I realized lately I’m so used to saying no, it has become my default answer regardless of the question.
“Can I have a grape?”
During the 30 minute whining/debating/arguing I realize, what was the big deal in the first place? A grape isn’t going to kill her. It isn’t going to ruin her dinner. It isn’t going to do anything, other than the opposite of an instant dismissal.
Now obviously I completely understand we can’t say yes to everything, but I challenged myself to one day of saying yes (within reason). While I have two kids, I focused on just my daughter, Parker, because let’s face it, I spend most of my day reminding the 1-year-old that he can’t use my toothbrush and play in the trash. 😉
I didn’t think my day would start at the insane time of 4 a.m. when my daughter unusually got out of bed and asked if she could sleep on the couch. My knee jerk reaction was to wipe the drool off my face and reply, “What?? NO you can’t sleep on the couch. Go back to bed.”
*Facepalm* Challenge failed. Let’s try this again at a reasonable hour…
When we woke up later that morning at a normal person’s time, I vaguely remembered my conversation with Parker earlier and the challenge set forth for the day. Determined to do better, I held back an eye twitch when she asked if she could make her own oatmeal.
While I’m all for teaching, the kitchen is the hardest place for me to let go. However she did great and was so proud of her breakfast! When she asked me to help her pour syrup on her oatmeal, I jumped at the chance. After breakfast, she asked if she could watch television, so I obliged.
Neither of these requests were out of the ordinary. They are both things she asks to do every. single. day. But I rarely let her. Turned out it wasn’t so bad changing my response.
She had a blast exploring independence. She quickly pushed the boundaries by asking me if I’d make her a “cave.” Now I make a pretty good cave, so I bust out my standard cave design, complete with high ceilings, a bedroom, and a door.
I let her pick out her own outfit, since we were staying home. She reached for the girliest thing she could find! Picking out her own clothes comes with flare and is always decorated with a smile!
After nap, Parker asked for a game of hide and seek. Again, not an unusual request. She normally wants me to play with her many times during the day, however I often decline opting for chores around the house or working on dinner.
But not today.
We had a great time finding each other over and over again, just enjoying the fun in the moment. I realized how often I turn down playing with her on a “normal” day, and that it’s okay to set aside my responsibilities from time to time to be silly and spend more time together.
After an afternoon of playing, the kids wanted a snack. The problem was it was almost 5 p.m. – when we eat dinner at 5:30. I said yes, kicking myself for not offering earlier. Thankfully, they chose apples! Who would have thought?!
What I Learned
While the requests were pretty mild (the kids already understood we couldn’t go anywhere due to car trouble), it was really hard to actively say yes to every request. The questions get draining, and it’s easier to dismiss everything.
Today though, my attitude changed my daughter.
Suddenly, she was determined to help me with the dishes, with Grayson, with anything. We had a fairly relaxed day. I worried the times I absolutely had to say no would bring whining and complaining, but it didn’t work that way. Perhaps it was the feeling of independence my daughter felt, or the clear expectations she knew going into the day, or the silly moments we spent playing together … or a combination of all three that made a difference.
Regardless, I definitely need to incorporate more “yes” into our days.
I also realized to combat activities I don’t really want to do, I need to be more proactive. For example, since I knew the question to watch television would inevitably come, I should have been prepared with an activity right after breakfast to grab their interest. And to keep the kids from eating snacks so close to meals, I need to offer snacks at a more appropriate time. Being prepared ahead of time helps keep boredom from setting in and keeps the day running smoothly.
Turns out saying “yes” isn’t so bad after all. Being open to new things and making small changes in our day can create a more fun and lovable environment all around.