A Buzzfeed blogger recently posted a short video about saying “yes” to her children for an entire week. (You can watch the video here, to see where this began.) She is seriously the cutest, ever, so go watch! My sister tagged me in the video, and after I saw that her children requested spaghetti tacos, I was on it like white on rice. Okay, maybe I wasn’t THAT on it, but I did immediately decide that it would be fun to do with the kids. I’m still sad my kids didn’t ask for something strangely awesome for dinner.
If you keep up with our Insta at all, you’d have seen the (almost) daily updates of how A Week of Yes went for us. I actually didn’t think that we would notice much of a difference since we already are kinda “free” (except things like manners, chores and such) so I was interested to see how often I actually said no.
(Side note: my husband didn’t even notice anything was going on until someone else asked him how it was going and then came home and told me, “I did notice you were saying yes more than no.” LOL, well, okay.)
So, here’s what I learned from our Week of Yes:
- It was more work. I could lie and say I didn’t notice too much of a difference in the things we did, but I did. It wasn’t hard work, just more. Like, the first day. We were heading to the grocery store, and the kids asked if we could stop and have a picnic at the park first… so we bought the makings for a picnic and went to the park. They were all hot, sweaty, and needed a five-hour nap when we got back in the car, so we skipped the store. I then had to go to the store later that evening. I wasn’t thrilled about it, but I did get to shop in peace.
- Saying yes doesn’t mean you allow your kids to run wild. I frequently updated on our Instagram story about how things were going. I had someone come up to me and say, “so, I heard you’re having a ‘week of yes,’ and you’re just gonna let your kids run around like wild animals.” To be completely fair- it was a teen, so it wasn’t like a grown adult coming up to me and being extra salty (I love when I can use that word in sentences.), but that’s not how it went AT ALL. I didn’t watch them burn things down or hurt each other and cheer them on from the sidelines, I said no. I said “yes” to requests they had, not yes to EVERYTHING they did that week.
- Just because something didn’t work out the first time, doesn’t mean it won’t another. I have this horrible habit of saying, “we tried that, and it didn’t work, remember?” During the Week of Yes, I learned that trying things again may yield different results. This seems like a “DUH” right, but with five kids you learn quickly what is a bad idea and what works. The kids asked to have a Master Chef challenge right before dinner one evening. Usually, I tell them to wait until the next day if I have dinner time sneaking up on us. Their challenges are long, make a mess, and they don’t always do the best job of clean up- leaving me to clean the kitchen before making a late dinner. Saying yes proved that just as we learn, so do kids. They had their challenge, and then clean up their mess– they even went as far as mopping the floor. They grow, and they prove Mama wrong.
- I genuinely enjoy spending time with my kids. Do they drive me crazy? Um… yes, but most of the things they requested entailed us having fun together as a family. Saying no all of the time prevents me from doing the fun stuff that I would usually call messy, or too much work. Those are the times we have the most fun, and this week reminded me of that.
- Kids can understand and adhere to limits. Unschoolers get a bad rap. If you were to ask someone unfamiliar with unschooling what it means, you’d probably get a mix of things like: “wild, unruly, cannot follow the rules, have no limits.” I do sometimes worry that this is what I’m setting my kids up for, but saying yes more showed me my kids do understand and can adhere to limits– both self-proclaimed and parent-given. One of the days we went to the park there was a merry-go-round, and when we got in the van to leave, Ryder threw up everywhere. The older three said they all felt sick but got off and rested before it turned bad. They listened to their bodies without me having to tell them. There was also a day that I had to spend at the church doing some work. We were there from 11:00-8:00 and when we were headed inside I asked (pleaded) that they puh-lease stay in the nursery and not run around making a mess. I said “yes” to a picnic lunch outside, and then we went in for the day. I’m still in awe of how well they did. They only made a mess of the nursery that they cleaned up.
- They can handle more freedom than we think. Unschooling has taught me to loosen the reigns, but the past week took it to a whole new level. Hayden has been able to go fishing and explore the woods alone for about a year now, but I’ve not let the girls go. Hayden, Ella, and Lylah went on a nature walk alone last week, and they’re all still here to tell the tale. We had a mini-course on snake safety, staying together, and other relevant things before they left. They came home, happy, muddy, and full of stories. (Disclaimer: we have 50 acres of land for them to explore. They never left our “yard.”)
The kids told me they didn’t notice anything too different about last week except that I was “more fun.” (MOM WIN!!) I learned so much, and I’m even making it a “thing” in our family every couple of months.