I Tried The ‘Yes Day’ Parenting Trend and I Lasted 3 Minutes

Yes Days

Even though I’m a parent, and also work for a parenting website, I’m often amazed at parenting trends. The latest trend  I’ve been hearing and reading about (and also shaking my head at) is the trend of ‘Yes Days.’

A Yes Day is pretty much what it sounds like. You choose one day (or two, if you’re really brave) each year where you must say yes to everything your kid asks for and anything they want to do.

Quite frankly, I don’t know if I love this idea or think it’s the stupidest parenting trend I’ve come across in a really long time.

Mostly I wonder if  this trend is realistic. Saying yes to my kids for an entire day. Yes, you can put boundaries or rules on ‘Yes Days,’ such as, ‘You can’t ask me to take you more than 10 miles from the house.’ And, ‘You can’t ask for anything over $20.’ And, of course, you don’t say yes if they ask for something that would harm them or others.

Actress Jennifer Garner seems to have led this ‘Yes Day’ trend. She recently shared on Instagram how she celebrated a ‘Yes Day’ with her three children, Violet, Seraphina and Samuel. According to the article, Garner does these days once a year and has for the past five years. She shared how she ended up sleeping in a tent on her last ‘Yes Day’. Garner also posted on social media, ‘You’ll never need a coffee more than the day after ‘Yes Day.’

Thousands upon thousands of people ‘liked’ Garner’s ‘Yes Day’ post. I think it’s becauseit sounds like a pretty fun idea in theory, but in practice? Meh, not so much. I was going to attempt having a ‘Yes Day’ with my son, who I do find myself saying no to a lot. But I have to say no to him because if I didn’t, he would be drawing on my walls and trying to convince me that the worm he found outside could sleep with him on his pillow.

One parent who commented on the yes day trend chimed in with, ‘There are so many restrictions in the world and so many times your little ones hear the word, ‘no,’ that a ‘yes day,’ can be a really useful counterbalance.’ Really? This bothers me. When I really think of the times I say no to my children, it’s almost entirely to protect them and make them be polite and good people. If I didn’t say no, my five year-old would never go to sleep, would run out into the road without looking, wouldn’t go to school, wouldn’t learn to read, and would probably throw rocks at our dog. If I didn’t say no to my daughter, she would have waxed her perfect eyebrows, we would have another cat and dog in the house, and she’d be stealing my high heels.

In fact, I actually think I say yes a lot more than I say no to my kids anyway, so do I really need to have a ‘Yes Day?’ You know what would be fabulous? A ‘Yes Day’ for us parents, where the children have to say yes to all our requests! Now THAT would be a game-changer, considering us parents already cater to our children like no generation before us. I attempted to try this whole ‘Yes Day’ trend and it lasted about three minutes.

Why? Because my five year-old’s first request was for a diet coke for breakfast and he also wanted me to drive him to school. Since the doors to his school don’t open until 8:55 am, there was no way I could make it to work by 9 am.

Sure, yes, I guess I could have been late to work, but what would I say to my bosses? ‘Oh, yeah, sorry I’m going to be late. It’s a ‘Yes Day’ at my house. Oh, and also I have to leave early because my five year-old asked to go to Legoland after school!’ Obviously, a ‘Yes Day,’ at least for working moms, needs to happen on a weekend. Yet I still don’t see how I could manage an entire ‘Yes Day,’ considering my kids have activities on both days of the weekend. My daughter has hockey practices on Saturdays and games on Sundays, which she loves. My son has squash and a million birthday parties, which he loves. I take them to their activities, so aren’t I already saying, yes to them by catering to my kids desires and making them happy? (It’s called parenting!)

Even if I had an entire day free, I’m not sure saying yes to everything my kids ask for is a good idea. In fact, I think it would be a terrible idea! It would be a friggen’ circus, with my five year-old hopped up on diet coke, throwing footballs around the house, staying up until midnight, and demanding even more action figures from toy stores. If my daughter had a yes day, I’d probably end up doing her homework, buying a pair of skates to skate with her (I don’t like skating!) and having to cook (re: buy) all her favorite foods. Oh, and am I just supposed to let them beat the crap out of each other, because I can’t tell them not to hit? Or, am I supposed to say yes to my daughter when she wants a skinny pig for a pet?  I already feel that children these days have us parents by the balls, to put it mildly.

All this being said, I understand the concept of attempting, at the very least, to say no less often. I could replace no with, ‘I don’t think so!’ It’s one thing to say yes to having ice cream, or even diet coke, for breakfast, but it’s an entirely different thing to say yes to a kid who really, really, wants another pet or to invite 18 girls over for an impromptu sleepover.

So, basically, along with the logistics of ‘Yes Days,’ I’m just plain scared of them. Another article on ‘Yes Days,’ asks, ‘why should you have a Yes Day?’ The answer? ‘Trusting your kids with the freedom of a ‘yes’ empowers them to decide what’s really important to them. In this instance, more often than not the simple pleasures—like two books before bed—end up overruling the insane requests. If you don’t feel confident enough to commit to a whole day, just do an hour.’ Sigh. What kind of kid does this author have? Kids are super savvy these days. If my kids knew it was a ‘Yes Day’ they most certainly wouldn’t ask for two books at bedtime. They’d ask to have a sleepover party, or a trip to Mexico, or the latest iPad, and to spray paint the walls just for fun and they’d ask if they could ride their bikes in the house.

Like I said, I lasted less than five minutes into my ‘Yes Day.’ So I’m far from confident I could go an entire day saying yes to my children, or even commit myself to an hour.

Like thousands of others, I’ll let Jennifer Garner do her ‘Yes Days.’ This mommy is going to skip this trend. It puts way too much power into the hands of kids, of whom we already do so much for. We may not actually be saying the actual word yes, but aren’t we essentially saying yes to them by taking them to their activities they love, driving them to their friends’ houses, making their favourite foods for dinner, setting up playdates and the lists goes on and on and on.

So, this mommy is saying no to ‘Yes Days,’ even if I like the idea in theory. Could you do an entire ‘Yes Day?’ And what do you think your kids would ask for? And, more importantly, why isn’t there a  trend for ‘Yes Day,’ for parents, where the kiddos must say, yes to everything we ask for?


1 Comment

  1. Ramona Jubilee on October 31, 2017 at 12:04 pm

    Fun article Rebecca! I hadn’t heard about Yes Days but what about trying a Yes Day without telling the kids it was happening? It solves the problem of your kids making outrageous requests to take advantage of the Yes Day, and it allows you to back out at any point and try again another day without anyone knowing. The kids would still get a little taste of empowerment that their wishes were being granted and maybe at the end of the day (if you stuck it out) you could ask them if they had noticed anything special about the day and tell them it had been a Yes Day, and that more surprise Yes Days might be in the future.

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