Jennifer Garner celebrates a “Yes Day” with her kids every year. Basically, it’s a day for the kids to call the shots and make memories with their parents. It’s adorable, and I might even try it some time. One of our contributors did it last year with her daughters, and she says it was wonderful! However, I’m going a different direction. I wouldn’t say it’s the opposite direction, but it’s close.
It’s not a reward or a celebration, and it is definitely not fancy. Mostly, it’s a day born of desperation.
At this point, all I can really handle with my almost three year old is an “OK Day.” On that day, I try not to say “yes” or “no.” I mostly just shrug my shoulders and say “OK.” It’s like laissez-faire parenting for the Type A personality.
Maybe mom is sick on the couch or it’s only a high of eight degrees. Maybe you’ve had it up to your eyeballs with entertaining your kids or you want to read a book. Honestly, you don’t even need a reason or notice to make it an “OK Day.” Just do it whenever needed.
The idea is that instead of giving your kids permission to do anything, you give yourself a break.
As long as it’s not dangerous, it qualifies for a quick OK from me. You want to cover your new dinosaurs with Scotch tape? Fine. You want to use your plastic plates as ice skates in the kitchen? Great. You want to take all of the bowls out of the cabinet and climb in there with a flashlight? OK, it’s a mess, but it can be cleaned up later, I guess.
On a normal day, it’s hard for me to sit back and let her take the lead. I want to interject, enrich, and build upon her activities. After all, I’m a middle school teacher who left the classroom to stay at home when my daughter was born. I’m always trying to take her to the next level. But it’s good for me–and even better for her–if I leave her to her own devices once in a while.
It’s amazing what she finds to do when I’m not worried about aftermath. One day she pulled out soup cans from the pantry and lined them up. Then she found a paintbrush and used it as a drumstick. Soon enough, she was singing “Old McDonald” and jamming out on her makeshift instrument.
Another time she made a Get Well card for me. I let her color with markers unsupervised. That one really could have backfired. But she sat at her little white table and very carefully drew an apple. At least I think it’s an apple. She was so proud, and I was so relieved to find out that she mostly kept the ink on the paper.
When she asked to watch a movie, I said OK to that too. Measuring screen time isn’t a priority on this kind of day. I let her watch in peace, and I let go of the guilt.
Like a “Yes Day,” there is freedom and probably a little chaos. It encourages independence and creativity. Best of all, it gives everyone room to breathe.
The house might be a wreck, but it’s OK. You made it through another day.