I spent Thursday having Yes Day with my kids. Yes Day is a day where kids get to pick all the activities for the whole day and the parents commit to saying, “Yes” (unless it is something illegal, immoral, etc) to their choices.
I first heard of Yes Day last year on Jennifer Garner’s Instagram page. ((If you aren’t following her, stop reading this and go follow her now. She’s the cutest ever!)) She got the idea from this children’s book. She lets her kids dream up anything they want to do and she says, “Yes” to all of it. She’s precious and so fun!
Then, I was listening to Craig Groeshel’s Leadership Podcast the other day and he interviewed a professor named Chip Heath. Chip wrote a book called The Power of Moments. Here is a link to the interview – it’s very helpful. He talked about Yes Day in the interview except he calls refers to it as Surprise Saturdays. He talks about how memorable and impactful breaking up the normal routine is for kids.
Our family has been so busy with church activities this summer that my kids have heard the word, “No” a lot. Please hear my heart: “No” is a great, healthy word. It keeps things in order, and is needed so that our kids don’t become selfish monsters who think the world revolves around them!
My kiddos are about to go back to school and they’ve spent much of the summer being dragged to stuff that I had to do. It was important to me to end their break with something memorable. So, I decided to give Yes Day a try.
I told the girls the day before it was going to happen so that they could come up with ideas. They made charts and planned their perfect day! I gave them a tiny little budget of $5 each and told them that they each got to plan a few activities. You could do this with a huge budget and let your kids go nuts or have an amazing day spending no money at all. I had a couple of reasons for being strict about only giving them $5: 1. August is an expensive month with back to school supplies, clothes, and family birthdays. 2. My kids often focus on what they don’t have or what they don’t get to do and miss all the great stuff that they do have/get to do. There’s this compulsion to always need more. The last thing I wanted to do was equip my children to be ungrateful. I simply wanted to empower them to make choices and for them to see that what matters to them, matters to me too.
Here is what my kids asked for:
“Can we have red and blue pancakes with sprinkles?” Yes!
“Can we play on the playground?” Yes!
“Can we buy a toy?” Yes!
“Can we get some candy?” Yes! They ended up buying cupcakes instead.
“Can we have a picnic lunch at the goose pond?” Yes! The only time I said “No” that day was to a goose who tried to attack us. Seriously! We had to run and hide from them in my car.
“Can you bake us cookies?” Yes!
Here’s what I saw in my girls from the day: Because they knew that their choices were important to me, they preferred each other. There was not one time that my girls wanted to rush through an activity their sister had picked to get to one that they wanted to do. They lived in the moment and enjoyed each thing. And in full disclosure, my girls aren’t in a sweet, best-friend stage! There is normally a lot of arguing and competing with each other. During Yes Day, they felt seen and important. There were a couple of disappointments during the day and they rolled with it and didn’t throw fits. They were thankful and a joy to be around. My three-year old got whiny and tired in the afternoon so we went home and she crashed. I guess hearing “Yes” all day is exhausting ;).
What’s the point? I think we get to make life special for our kiddos every now and then. My hubby and I are pastors and much of our time is spent making everyone else feel seen and heard. It would be an absolute tragedy for our kids to feel that we were too busy taking care of everyone else to be there for them. They are our priority and they should see that in our actions.
In case you’re reading this and struggling with the idea that Yes Day is empowering children to be spoiled: I was struggling a few years ago believing that God was going to provide for us. I felt Him very strongly say, “Baby, you’re a spoiled, rich kid who’s Daddy owns everything!” He isn’t worried one bit about how to take care of us. He has provided for our needs ((and some of our wants)) in amazing ways.
Heres what the Bible has to say:
“Make God the utmost delight and pleasure of your life, and he will provide for you what you desire the most,” (Psalm 37:4 TPT).
“Whatever is good and perfect is a gift coming down to us from God our Father, who created all the lights in the heavens…” (James 1:17 NLT).
“The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing,” (Psalm 23:1).
“God can pour on the blessings in astonishing ways so that you’re ready for anything and everything, more than just ready to do what needs to be done. As one psalmist puts it, He throws caution to the winds, giving to the needy in reckless abandon. His right-living, right-giving ways never run out, never wear out. This most generous God who gives seed to the farmer that becomes bread for your meals is more than extravagant with you. He gives you something you can then give away, which grows into full-formed lives, robust in God, wealthy in every way, so that you can be generous in every way, producing with us great praise to God,” (2 Corinthians 9:8-11 MSG).
“Give generously and generous gifts will be given back to you, shaken down to make room for more. Abundant gifts will pour out upon you with such an overflowing measure that it will run over the top! Your measurement of generosity becomes the measurement of your return,” (Luke 6:38 TPT).
God spoils His kids and gives us choices. Of course, as parents, it’s our job to teach our kids boundaries and draw healthy lines around appropriate behavior. But it’s also our responsibility to teach our children that God is good and life should be full of joy. In the interview I mentioned earlier with Chip Heath, Craig summed up Yes Day by saying, “To be more successful or to be more memorable, you have to be more unreasonable.”
Let’s say “Yes” when we can.