My kids are constantly complaining that I Always Say No to Everything Fun. They "never" get to do "anything" they want to do. My four year old had a total meltdown the other afternoon out of such frustration that he *never* gets *his* way.
I read an article several years ago in Wondertime magazine (sadly no longer in print) about having a Yes Day. The mom author of the article promised to say yes to her daughter for a whole day. The idea of a yes day (or hour, week, month, etc) has stuck with me because I think it's great and fun. Kids love to be able to be in charge. But we all know they can't (and should not have to) handle the responsibilities of being in charge all the time.
So I suggested this solution to my sons. A Yes E Day and a Yes H Day. They each penciled in a date on my calendar. We set some guidelines: they each get their own day, so only one boss and less conflict; a budget of what we could spend; rules like I can't say yes to something unsafe or something that would hurt someone.
My friend said her kids would ask "Mommy, can I stay naked all day? Mommy, can I eat off the floor? Mommy, can I eat Daddy's unattended cake?" To these I would reply, "Yes you can stay naked-in our house. If you want to leave our house, you have to get dressed." "Eat away." "No I cannot give you permission to eat someone else's cake. But if you ask Daddy directly, he might let you eat it in the spirit of Yes E Day."
So the day began with seven-year-old E requesting to watch television (an no-no on school mornings) and a special breakfast of French toast and bacon. We skipped the usual academics for playing, writing an email, drawing pictures, pleasure reading. He decided he wanted to go have lunch at the mall. He requested Chik-fil-A but when he saw the ridiculous line, he headed for Five Guys burgers, and got sidetracked by a sample of mall "Cajun" bourbon chicken. He ordered a plate of that with two vegetables on the side (corn and carrots), foregoing the rice/pasta for an extra vegetable. He chose lemonade for a drink. He and his brother shared food peacefully while I got mall sushi, then we headed upstairs to see Gnomeo and Juliet at the movie theater. His budget was gone after lunch and movie tickets, so we skipped treats at the theater.
We headed back toward home and stopped at a local park to meet some friends for a playdate. It had just been renovated (unbeknownst to us) and the kids had a fabulous time. We headed home for a snack break. E wanted to play Wii so he played for about two hours while I read a book to his brother, who passed out in my lap.
For dinner, we had no budget left so E chose from what we already had on our weekly menu. He chose chicken nuggets and salad.
His last request was to stay up a half-hour later than his usual bedtime to watch his favorite television show.
What most surprised me is that he never asked for candy or soda the whole day. I expected he would balk at the usual personal hygeine stuff, or cleaning up toys, or would ask to wear his kajamas all day. But he did those things just like normal routine without fussing. I expected him to be sort of clingy and want my undivided attention...for playing games, reading out loud to him, etc. I had prepared myself mentally to be totally focused on him all day, but that didn't really happen. I had lots of time to read, get a little sewing done, household chores, play with little brother. E was obviously much more interested in getting out of our house and doing fun stuff. This is a good reminder that he is very extroverted, and I am very introverted, and I need to plan "out of our house" time more often.
This coming Tuesday is Yes H Day. With him being the younger of the two boys (he's four) I thought it would be smart to let E go first, so that H would have a better idea of what kind of things he is allowed, and see that Mom says no to the things that are outside our agreed-upon boundaries. Last night as he got in bed, he told Daddy he wanted to change his special day to today! Of course, Mom said no.