Sometimes we get into such a routine of saying ‘no’ to our children, not out of being a bad parent but just because we condition ourselves into having this response.
D1: “Can I tip this tub of trains out Mummy?”
Me: “No, it’s too messy, you don’t need to!”
I say no because it’s convenient for me. Surely he can play without tipping them all out, and I guarantee I’ll be the one putting them all back into the tub later. D1 looks sad.
Why didn’t I just say yes?
A tipped out tub of trains wouldn’t be that messy, he probably just wanted to see which ones he’d got, and he would have probably helped me pick them up.
D1: “Mummy can we play outside in the rain? ”
Me: “No it’s too wet, and you’ll get filthy!”
I say no because it’s more convenient for me. I don’t want to stand in the rain. I’ll have to wash wellies and dry coats, and even iron fresh clothes. D1 looks sad.
Why didn’t I just say yes? Puddle jumping is fun. Dirt washes away. We have plenty of fresh clothes to put on. Fresh air is good for them and gets rids of their excess energy.
D2: “I play Play-Doh a bit!”
Me: “No we’ll play with it later I’ve just swept the floor!”
I say no because I’ve cleaned the house and want it to stay tidy. Play-Doh is so messy. Plus they’ve just had a bath and don’t need Play-Doh stuck in their fingernails. D2 cries.
Why didn’t I just say yes? Who cares if I have to sweep again? Will it hurt me?! No! Who cares if they need rebathing? They love the water anyway. They love creating Play-Doh models, why don’t I use the time to interact with them?
It’s so easy to say ‘no’ without thinking things through. Children are not an inconvenience.
Do you want to create a tidy house with neatly stacked toys or do you want to create memories to cherish forever?
The truth about YES parenting
All of the above are actually real examples, but I learnt a long time ago to say yes whenever I can. Life is too short to be anything less than fun. An untidy house doesn’t matter, but your children do. A simple yes will make their day. Try it out!
My boys love making my garden look a mess. Onlookers would see sand covering every concrete surface, chalk drawings on the floor, fences, and sheds, an upturned police car, water soaked toys, an empty sand pit, and a slide covered in wet sand. My kids see an adventure land/beach. They’ve carefully spilt the sand. They’ve drawn sharks in chalk. They’ve tipped their police car upside down to fix it with their invisible tools. They’ve played. They’ve unreservedly played, and that’s what rears happy children. Fearless children.
Sand can be swept up. Chalk can be washed away. Toys can dry out. Cars can be put the right way up. But children’s memories cannot be faked; they’re either good or not good.
Last week I filled our garden path with shaving foam and hid lots of dinosaurs in the ‘snow’. It was messy from the start. It got even messier when they figured out clapping your hands in the foam created a mini blizzard! I could have easily not bothered, or said no to the clapping but they had so much fun! They even spoke about it the next day! And the worst that happened? We all had to get changed.
Does your babba want three bedtime stories? Why not! Who’s counting anyway? One day they’ll be too big to have a bedtime story so don’t ever refuse them now.
It’s not about saying yes all of the time!
Obviously this post is about saying yes more often in regards to fun and play, it’s not about saying yes to everything else. Children need healthy boundaries, but they also need a safe environment to be children. Let your babbas be free to play. Yes parenting is vital to their development.
Try having a day of ‘yes’, let them have fun, messy fun. You’ll enjoy it too and feel much more relaxed!
This article originally appeared at swords & snoodles