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- If your kids ask for a Yes Day, should you just say no?!
First, nobody was allowed to skip school. Second, no trips anywhere more than an hour away. Other than that, the sky was the limit! Thankfully, my kids' first request was a small one. They wanted Trader Joe's chocolate croissants for breakfast. I usually only serve them healthy foods like yogurt or smoothies, so they couldn't wait to get their hands on the chocolatey treats and inevitable sugar rush.
My daughter even asked for candy for dessert yes, dessert after breakfast , which I halfheartedly agreed to despite the "No! I decided if I couldn't beat them, I might as well join them, so I grabbed a plate, sat down, and dug into one of the gooey treats too. After we had literally licked our plates clean, my son headed off to school while my daughter got ready for a play date.
Since it was "Yes Day," Zooey had graciously agreed to me taking a Pilates class with a friend that morning, while she and my workout buddy's daughter played at the Kid's Klub. We both had a blast spending time with our friends , so it was a win-win for everyone. After we hit the gym, Zooey asked to go out to lunch, so we headed to her favorite kid-friendly restaurant.
In between bites of chicken tenders and french fries, she decided it was time to visit the playground. We met up with some friends a few minutes later at a nearby park, where I thankfully had a brief rest on a picnic blanket while Zooey played with her buddies. After they tired of the slides and swings, the kids ran in circles playing hide-and-seek all over the grassy area. When it was time to pick Max up from school, we said our goodbyes and headed for the car. On the way to school, Zooey asked for more candy and ice cream "for the road" so, of course, I said yes, stopping at a nearby bakery before pulling into the elementary school to pick up her brother.
After Max climbed into the car, he helped himself to candy followed by a dish of ice cream at home, then promptly asked if he could play video games and FaceTime with his friend Dylan all afternoon. My husband and I don't normally allow him to play video games during the week, but, really, what choice did I have?
Both kids cheered then headed upstairs to our home office to log onto my computer together. Meanwhile, I called Dylan's mom to ask if he could FaceTime, then handed my phone over to Max so the two boys could chat while they played. I then decided to kick back and relax with a new book on the couch. Hmm, this wasn't so bad. After a couple of hours, it was time to take Zooey to her first tumbling class at a nearby gymnastics studio.
If your kids ask for a Yes Day, should you just say no?
She had a blast practicing somersaults and doing splits, so we decided to celebrate her success afterwards. The kids begged me to order pizza and fried dough for dinner, so I called the restaurant then phoned their dad to let him know that a pizza delivery was on the way. Once we got back home, they asked if they could watch a movie while they ate, which — you guessed it! After the movie ended, I started to lose steam and, at long last, it was almost bedtime.
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After one last request for story time in my bedroom, which I happily granted, the kids changed into their pajamas, brushed their teeth, and climbed under the covers. As they settled in for the night, I couldn't help but think how innocent the day was. There were no tantrums, crying fits over not going to Disney, or insane requests they knew I couldn't grant. They wanted really simple things to make them happy — sugar, friends, play time, and movies.
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And honestly, those are the same exact things that make me happy. He piles a shopping trolley high with luminous cereal boxes and then heads straight to an ice cream parlour.
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The authors don't make the ensuing sugar-rush explicit, but the next thing he does is have a food fight. And so to the start of our own Yes Day, where the chocolate pancakes are laid in front of my six and three-year-olds. Unpoliced, it turns out, my children go about stuffing themselves with sugar and throwing money into the wind.
Is this how it's supposed to pan out? I consult Hannah Lamdin, a mother of two and a Yes Day veteran.
I had a ‘yes day’ with my kids like Jennifer Garner: Here’s how it went
Rosenthal's book makes exactly this point. The inside cover is decorated with a calendar, on which each day of the month is marked with a different expression of "no" - "Not Gonna Happen Day", for example, and "Not Today Day" - with the tantalising exception of the final day of the month, which is marked "YES DAY! I t's a cute reminder that, as parents, we are forced to say "no" far more than we realise - to keep small people safe, to keep soft furnishings clean, to preserve our sanity or simply to keep to schedule.
But do all these "nos" run the risk of snowballing into an automatic response, unnecessarily curtailing kids' creativity and freedom? They realise that for a lot of the time that they are getting on the child's case, it is because they are feeling ratty for their own reasons.
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Y es Days, in fact, bear many similarities to Oliver's own strategy of "love bombing", in which he advises parents to set aside a day - or 48 hours if you can stretch to it - in which their child gets to call the shots. J ames advocates the strategy for kids from three years old to puberty, and says that it works to address childhood behavioural problems from violence to shyness to sleeping problems. L ove bombing works, he says, "because it gives the child the experience of unlimited love and control, and shows them that they don't need to kick against you all the time.
I call it resetting their emotional thermostat. In his many years of using the strategy, James claims never to have come across a child who demanded anything utterly preposterous. They want simple, accessible things - like your love. So it proves in our house. We watch far more television than would usually be permitted, but the really remarkable thing is that I watch it with them, snuggled under a duvet. We go for a walk in our pyjamas. We spend too much money on chocolate, but no one demands a helicopter.