A few weeks ago, my kids and I watched a movie on Netflix called “Yes Day.” In the movie, the mom, played by Jennifer Garner, has become accustomed to saying no and is challenged to a 24-hour day of saying yes to her children’s wildest dreams come true. After setting some ground rules — they have to stay within 20 miles from home, within the budgeted amount earned after chores, and nothing dangerous or illegal — the adventure begins, and all kinds of shenanigans ensue. While the movie was cute, it was a bit over-the-top. However, it sparked some great conversation with my kids, and recently, I had a Yes Day with my youngest son, Abram.
Leading up to Yes Day
The first step to planning a Yes Day is picking a date in the near future. This not only gives you time to get your own work done so you can be focused and carefree, but it builds anticipation for your child. The days leading up to Yes Day are filled with possibilities — similar to the days leading up to Christmas — as your child’s imagination gets to run free. This is a good time to write down all of their ideas and brainstorm a really fun day! Depending on their age, you may want to guide this conversation and offer choices based on what you know they like to do.
It’s also a good time to talk about the rules. For us, I was willing to travel within 90 minutes in any direction to see or do what Abram wanted. He loves arcades, so we did some research and found a few new ones we’d like to check out within that distance. It was also important that our Yes Day be reasonable. Extravagance and wastefulness are not my jam, so cultivating some boundaries for budget was a must. Without me saying it, Abram knew that even on a Yes Day, Mom wouldn’t buy a bunch of things we didn’t need. I was pleasantly surprised by how little he wanted.
Our Yes Day
When our day began, the only thing he knew for certain was that our first stop would be Bubble Crush Tea Studio in Cape Girardeau. No joke, this was his choice — he loves the fresh strawberry with strawberry boba, and I do, too! After getting our drinks, we discussed the arcades again, but he really didn’t want to travel that far.
Instead, we headed to Target (he knows what’s good!) to pick out a Fortnite gift card. Knowing our budget for the day, he reasoned the $25 card would be better than the one for $80. (Mom agreed!) After a short trek through the store, we left with the gift card, a pack of fruity mints and a big smile on his face.
From there, we headed to Boomland in Benton, Mo., and loaded up on fireworks. The look on his face when we entered the store was priceless! We walked up and down the aisles, looked at every single option and slowly spent the rest of our money … because, of course, there is no rushing on Yes Day. And even though I’m not a huge fan of fireworks, it was pure joy watching him fill his basket.
Even though we had technically spent all our designated money, I assumed we would head to the park, meet up with a friend to swim or at least grab lunch, but he was ready for a chill afternoon of Fortnite and fireworks at home.
What was supposed to be a 24-hour Yes Day turned into a few Yes Hours, and yet, he was completely satisfied — a win for us both!
How to have your own Yes Day
When planning your own Yes Day, it’s important to consider the age and personality of your child. Let them lead, whenever possible, and praise their choices along the way. Let them know how much you enjoy spending this time with them. Put your phone down, be silly and remember what it was like to be a kid. A reasonable and fun Yes Day experience does not have to break the bank, cause an uncalled-for mess or even last an entire day.
If you have more than one child, consider planning separate days for each of them. One-on-one time with each kid is such a special experience, and with just one captain leading the ship, you can guarantee there will be less bickering amongst the crew.
What your kids really want is to spend quality time with you. From toddlers to teenagers and beyond, even if they don’t admit they want it, they want it. And you saying “yes” to all of their adventures is just an added bonus.