One thing that has been bothering me, I wouldn't go so far as to say that I've been struggling with it, but it's been bothering me, is the amount of time that I say NO everyday. I say no when the kids ask me for something that they're not allowed to have. I say, "Don't do this. Don't touch that. Don't go there. Leave your brother alone. Please don't do this. Please don't touch that. Please don't go there." I feel like throughout the day, especially on the weekends, I say NO a lot. "Mommy, do you want to come up to the attic with me?" "No, I have to do the dishes." "Mommy, can we play this game together?" "No, I have to do the laundry."
I try, as much as I can to say, " Yes. Yes, I'll play that game with you. Yes, I'll come up to the attic with you." Sometimes it turns into, "Yes, I'll play that as son as X, Y, or Z is finished." The only problem with that is that with three kids, although I imagine it's the same with any number of kids, there are so many variables that I really hate to say, "Yes, I'll do this as soon as I'm done doing the dishes, making your lunches, or running the laundry," Because maybe the baby brother will wake up or the middle brother will fall and need to be picked up or the older brother will need attention of some sort, and so as much as I want to say, "Yes, let me finish this." I hesitate. I don't want to lie. I don't want to give false promises and yet I don't want to say "no" anymore. I haven't figured it out.
Last year at this time, I think exactly this time, I was reading Shonda Rhimes' The Year of Yes, and it was inspiring in many, many ways. She said yes to many things. In fact, she said yes to saying no sometimes. One of the things she talked about, though, was saying yes to her children and she would say, she would be rushing out of the house, off to wherever she was going, meeting or whatever and her daughter would ask her to play with her and she would say, "No, honey. I can't play with you now." And she would leave. Obviously, there was a nanny who was there to play with her daughter and her daughter wasn't being deprived but her daughter wanted to play with her mom. Shonda decided that she would start saying yes and realizing the fact that she could say yes and then perhaps, not that much later, her daughter would get bored of playing with her and would move on to wanting to do something else, leaving Shonda able to leave and go to work. Maybe she'd be five or 10 or 15 minutes late, but she was able to say yes and it really didn't hurt her, it didn't slow her day down too much.
I'd like to do that. I'd like to say yes more when one of the boys finds a game in our coffee table drawers and he wants to play with it and he says, "Mommy, can you play with it?" I want say "Yes" not "But I have to finish it." Unfortunately, the fact is, so much of what I'm doing, I do actually have to finish. There are only so many hours in the day and there's only so much I can do.
Now, I'm not writing this because I feel guilty in any sense. I don't feel guilty for saying no. I spend a lot of time with my kids and I snuggle with them and I read to them and I play with them and I frankly, all of us right now probably do more with our kids than most generations. Not probably, statistically we do more with our kids now than most generations did in the past and so no, I don't feel guilty. I think I've done enough. I'm just tired of saying no. I want to figure out a way to say yes more, and say yes more when I'm not giving promises of false hope, but figuring out a way to ensure that I can say yes to my kids more often.
I have a few ideas, although I don't totally think they're going to work, but I'd like to know your opinion. One of my ideas is that I designate a certain amount of time each day with each child and I encourage the other children to respect that time, you know, 10 minutes with this child, 10 minutes with that child and 10 minutes with that child. I think I can play a Candy Land game in 10 minutes or read many books in 10 minutes or play in the attic for 10 minutes and yet, I worry, at least right now, while they are five, three and one that the one year old is not totally going to respect the 10 minutes with the five and three year old and the three year old is not going to respect the 10 minutes with the five and the one year old and frankly, the five year old might not respect those 10 minutes and so I'm not totally sure that this is a good plan right now.
I also don't like the idea of sort of scheduling my children in, "Okay, now is a good time. You can talk to mommy." I don't really want it to be that way, so I'm thinking of taking a page out of Shonda Rhimes' book and saying yes. Like for a week. Not to everything obviously, but let's just test it out here. Let's test the theory and see what happens if I need to be doing laundry or dishes but instead of saying no, I can say ye. Or worst case scenario, "Set up the game. I'm just going to move the laundry around and I'll be right back." But, actually have to be right back. This is one theory that I think I'm going to try out. I'm intrigued in what you think.
The other thing that I've read about that I like, maybe even more, although not a long term solution but this would be really fun, is having a YES Day. I have no idea where I read about this, probably on Pinterest. Each kid gets his own Yes day. Obviously the baby doesn't need one quite yet, but let's go with the fiver year old. He gets to decide what we do for the whole day. Maybe he can't go father than two hours away, it can't cost a certain amount of money, right? It can't be dangerous, but other than that, he can pretty much do whatever he wants to that day and he can say, "Mommy, can we go out for breakfast?" "Yes." "Mommy, can we drive to New York City?" "Yes. We'll go." "Mommy, can we go to the beach?" "Yes."
I think it might be fun for everyone if they heard a lot of yeses and a lot less nos. I certainly know it would be really enjoyable for me to not be saying, "Don't. Stop. No. Please leave your brother alone." That's my idea. I would love to take suggestions on what you do to say YES more.
Have you had a YES Day with your kids?
How did it go?