How to Have a Real-Life Yes Day With Your Family

Little son and daughter with mother on roller coaster ride

No.

No way. Not happening. Nooooope.

Parents probably say the word "no" more than they say any other word. Now, it isn't like moms and dads set out to be the destroyer of children's dreams and fantasies with those constant, soul-crushing two letters. It's just that kids ask about three million questions per day, with the majority of those requests being fairly impossible or impractical. Parents default to saying "no" over and over again. After all, it is definitive; and it ends the begging, the whining, and the conversation a kid has decided to strike up regarding having ice cream for breakfast.

But what if, for just one day, all the noes were replaced with the word "yes?"

What Is a Yes Day?

A Yes Day is when parents do their darndest to say yes to their children's requests. When kids ask for something, parents grin, bear it, and grant their many desires. The theory of a Yes Day likely started with the 2009 children's book "Yes Day!" by Amy Krouse Rosenthal. The concept became further known and widely popular with actress Jennifer Garner's explanation of how she provides her kids an annual Yes Day.

Laying Down Yes Day Rules

Having a Yes Day doesn't mean that you suddenly become a genie in a bottle, granting any old wild wish that your offspring conjure up. While Yes Days include far more yeses than noes, establishing clear boundaries and guidelines will make the endeavor more successful for everyone.

Plan the Day in Advance

A Yes Day likely requires spending more than the usual amount of quality time with the kids, so carve out a day where your presence won't be required elsewhere. If you are holding a Yes Day on a weekday, take the day off work. If Yes Day falls on a weekend, block out the day and forgo your typical chores and commitments so you can devote the entire day to making dreams come true.

Young man and his son spending some quality time together while sitting on a lake dock

Prepare for a Variety of Requests

A Yes Day to one kid might look completely different to another child in the family. If you are having a family Yes Day, make sure kids work together to compile their requests. It is going to become impossible to have different requests coming at you from every kid. Consider allowing each kid three "yes requests," or have each child choose a meal, an activity, and an outing to work into the Yes Day. Another option is to have a Yes Day for one kid at a time. Spread the Yes Days out so you have some time to recover from one before moving onto the next.

Financial Restrictions

Just because you hold a Yes Day doesn't mean that you are suddenly made of money. Kids can't ask you for a spontaneous trip to Disney World on Yes Day. True, you might have to fork over some extra cash for a meal out, a shopping trip at Target, or a movie rental, but kids should have a clear concept regarding what is possible financially and what is not. A Yes Day should not break the bank, nor should it break your soul. The goal is family fun, not financial ruin.

Make Sure Requests are Practical

This is especially important for young children who still hold beliefs in magic and wonder. Don't entertain requests of magic beanstalks, unicorns, or secret meet and greets with Santa Claus. For older children, boundaries might include time limits for screen usage, the types of movies that can be viewed, or how much sugar or junk food gets put into the Yes Day diet.

Family playing tug-of-war in park

Set Physical Boundaries and Limitations

Your children might ask you to chauffeur them around on Yes Day. Remember, you are the driver; you call the shots when it comes to Yes Day outings. Don't feel like you have to drive one hundred miles for the sake of saying yes. If kids want to see Grandma or friends who live out of town for their Yes Day, discuss how this might not be possible because of distance. If you do make Yes Day long-distance dreams come true, explain to children that a road trip might mean sacrificing some other possible Yes Day activities.

Make a Suggestion List

Sometimes suddenly saying yes to everything throws kids way off. In their day-to-day lives, they know what they can and cannot do, so when it comes to activities, they stay in that general wheelhouse. When Yes Day rolls around, they might spend more time trying to think up ingenious ideas as opposed to actually executing them. Making a suggestion list for kids to choose from might save some time on this special day. Include suggestions for activities, outings, and meals. Some ideas might be:

  • Ice cream or other treats for dinner
  • Going out to a special eatery for breakfast, lunch, or dinner
  • Create a delicious meal full of the child's favorite foods
  • List possible outings for the day
  • Head out to the zoo, a local fair, a theme park, a park or the beach
  • Suggest friends or family to visit on your Yes Day
  • Provide ideas for crafts, movies, and games to play
  • Go biking, roller skating, sledding, surfing, or do something fun and active
  • Suggest a sleepover as a whole family, with siblings, in the family room, or camping in the back yard
Happy father and son sitting on bench enjoying an ice cream

Benefits of Having a Yes Day

Having a Yes Day can be exhausting, especially for creative kids who might ask for the moon, regardless of boundaries and limitations. Despite the energy a Yes Day may require from adults, holding a day like this has several benefits for kids and grown-ups alike.

For children, a Yes Day means giving kids the opportunity to have things done with them, not for them. They retain the independence to make decisions for themselves and execute their plans without much adult interference. A Yes Day allows kids to get creative with their time, suggesting activities or meals that might otherwise not get worked into life.

Parents also benefit from a Yes Day. They get a break from the over-scheduling, from dreaming up meals and activities, from discussing and arguing with kids about what they can and cannot do. A Yes Day might be an empowering experience for parents, not just for kids. A Yes Day gives caregivers a chance to let go of the micromanaging and routines they tend to fall into.

Memorializing Yes Day

Turn your Yes Day into an annual family tradition. Ensure that you work this fun idea into your family culture by honoring it in new ways each year. Take plenty of photos of your Yes Day adventures and include them in a scrapbook, adding new images and pages each year that you celebrate Yes Day.

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How to Have a Real-Life Yes Day With Your Family