Once a year, Jennifer Garner says ‘yes’ to everything her children ask for (within reason, of course). The 45-year-old mother (her children are Violet, 11, Seraphina, 8 and 5-year-old Samuel) has been celebrating this tradition for five years now...
Jennifer got the idea from a popular children’s book by Amy Krouse Rosenthal, called ‘Yes Day!’. The book embraces the idea of having one day a year where, no matter how “silly” the request, kids are almost always guaranteed one answer from their parents: a whole-hearted yes.
While Jennifer didn’t share the details of what exactly happened on ‘Yes Day!’ in her house, she mentioned she slept in a tent in her backyard that night. And, if her Instagram pic was anything to go by, it’s possible she didn’t get much sleep…
So should we all embrace this tradition? Clinical Psychologist Kirstin Bouse, author of The Conscious Mother loves the idea of giving kids a ‘Yes Day!’.
“It’s easy, as parents, to get caught up in the busy-ness of life and the boundary setting that comes with parenting to the point where it’s easy to forget to have fun with our kids.” That’s why it’s so important to set one day aside where we toss our rules out the window and embrace doing whatever the kids want.
That doesn’t mean you have to shell out a fortune creating a zillion Insta-worthy moments. Bouse says you can adapt the idea of a ‘yes day’ so it doesn’t cost much. For instance, she says you could ask your kids to put a bunch of ideas into a hat and then agree to a certain number of those (hopefully inexpensive!) ideas.
There are other ways you can modify ‘Yes Day!’ too. If you have more than one child, Bouse says you could choose to do ‘yes days’ individually with each child, one-on-one.
You don’t have to dedicate an entire day to saying ‘yes’, either. If you prefer, Bouse says you can limit the ‘yes’ time to a certain period in the day (which means you don’t have to end up sleeping in a tent like Jennifer Garner!).
While ‘yes days’ are about having fun, Bouse says bigger lessons can be learned too. Saying ‘yes’ to activities you’d normally resist can help you move out of your comfort zone and allow you to try new things.
Perhaps the biggest lesson it can teach families is “joie de vivre”. Saying ‘yes’ to your children and embracing their ideas allows you to all have fun together. By showing your children your silly side, you can also teach them the importance of continually embracing joy in life as they grow up.
Interestingly, Bouse finds it hard to pinpoint any major ‘downsides’ to ‘yes days’. If anything, she says having no rules or boundaries would be a problem (I can only imagine the amount of sugar my kids would ingest if I gave them free reign…). Not surprisingly, she’s also against the idea of celebrating ‘yes days’ too often.
But if you keep expectations in check and implement a ‘Yes Day!’ once a year, then Bouse is nothing but supportive of the idea, saying it’s “a lovely idea and one that could become a fun family tradition”.
While you never know what kind of adventures you’ll get up to on a ‘Yes Day!’, if you’re anything like Jennifer Garner, be prepared to be tired the next day. As she wrote on Instagram, “You’ll never need more coffee than the day after ‘Yes Day!’.”
Do you celebrate ‘Yes Day!’? Or would you try it?
Words: Evelyn Lewin