"Don't even think about it."
In a world of overscheduled calendars, school pressures and the harrowing nightly news, there are so many reasons to say "no" to my kids. The list of experiences and behaviors I'd like to avoid is always growing, and I recently found myself using the word so often that I got sick of hearing myself say it.
I thought, "There has to be a better way." And, there is.
"What a brilliant idea!"
"I would like that."
I have discovered the amazingly freeing experience of actually saying "yes." This simple word gives children the freedom to choose and feel pride, and it opens the door to so many positive experiences. So, let's release the reins a bit when the situation allows. Let's put the fun back into parenting.
Car Ride Sing-Alongs1 of 13
Rather than insisting the kids turn down their music yet again, why not turn it up and sing along at the top of your lungs? You'll all enjoy a natural endorphin boost, and it might make a fun video, too.
Dessert for Breakfast2 of 13
Breakfast is the first meal of the day, and an important time to catch up with your kids. While not ideal for every morning, those brownies left over from last night's dinner will probably taste delicious with a glass of milk, a piece of fruit and resounding "yes."
Spontaneous Staycations3 of 13
Sometimes all you need is a change of scenery. If the kids have been asking to do something different on the weekend, why not book a night at a local hotel? Have them pack an overnight bag, order pizza delivery or splurge on room service. Dinner is done, and you'll make a whole host of new memories.
Mental Health Days4 of 13
There is a reason that weekends are so anticipated. They allow time for family fellowship and emotional and physical rest. There is no law that states everyone must have perfect attendance, so let the kids take the occasional day to do something special or simply relax in the comfort of home. They'll go back to the hustle rejuvenated and ready to reach for the stars.
Just One More Story5 of 13
There will come a day when your little one does not want you to read them a bedtime story anymore. Keep that in mind the next time their favorite book is getting on your last nerve, and you wish they would just go to sleep.
Choosing the Menu6 of 13
"What do you want for dinner?"
This frequent question can be a fun opportunity to say "yes." Just make sure to set a few reasonable parameters in advance, and stock the pantry and freezer with easy staples.
That Crazy Outfit7 of 13
Small opportunities for self-expression, individuality and personal style needn't be crushed or forced into the rigid boxes of uniformity. Sometimes, just a whisper of approval is all a kid needs to rock a big smile through the day–mismatched socks, tutu and all.
The Half-Birthday Party (& Other Celebrations)8 of 13
It is an absolute delight to celebrate for the sake of celebrating. Pick a reason, any reason: It's their half birthday, they grew a half-inch since last month or maybe it's just Tuesday. Then, gather the family and have a blast.
Pillow Forts9 of 13
Freshly-washed linens stacked neatly in a basket seem to call out to my kids. How about yours? When spotted, they inspire forts in the house or pop-up tents on the patio. Next time, say "yes" and help them build the best fort ever!
A Family Pet10 of 13
Most parents immediately cringe at the thought of adding a pet to the household, envisioning endless shedding, muddy footprints and huge food bills. Why not say "yes" to a manageable companion for your kids? A goldfish or an ant farm might be all they have in mind, and even the smallest pet can teach a valuable lesson in responsibility.
Get Out and Play11 of 13
Games like freeze tag, hopscotch and Red Rover are novelties to today's kids. They're also fun, spontaneous and absolutely free. Say yes to a game and infuse the day with more energy–no electricity required.
Pay it Forward12 of 13
Most "yes" moments require nothing more than a little effort, added attention, a bit of extra time or some flexibility in the routine. More importantly, the "yes" is about bringing the fun back into the day. Encourage your kids to model this spontaneous little act of kindness. "Yes" can be contagious.