Saying yes

At some point, it just became my default: “No.” Sometimes I added an optional exclamation point (or four!!!!). Sometimes it was uttered in complete exhaustion or repeated for the 100th time.

And at some point, the automatic response from my children became, “Mommy!! Why is it always noooooo?!??!”

I don’t exactly know when this became my go-to answer.

With a 6 year old and a 3 year old in tow, there are a lot of decisions to make every day: what to feed them, where to take them, how to dress them, etc. And to be honest, there were moments that I took pride in being the “firm” parent, even if it meant that I was more often the one to say no to something.

In essence, I became the Debbie Downer of the family.

But there was a moment a few months ago that I had a small turning point. I said yes. It wasn’t anything major: the girls had asked to jump on the bed. Earth-shattering, I know. In the past, this would have been a solid no.

But this time was different.

I was at the tail end of a week of solo parenting, and I was a bit fried. This was our last night before my husband got home, and the kids had asked for a pajama party, which quickly morphed into a dress up party, which quickly morphed into a jumping on the bed party.

And I said yes.

Saying yes

In that moment, as I saw them in their pajamas and swim goggles, giggling and jumping, I realized that even though my default was no, it was more out of habit than reason. I didn’t really have a good, solid reason for saying no.

In the midst of their screams of joy, I had an honest moment with myself, and I realized that I had been saying no because I was scared of something turning out to be messy. Or because I was tired. Or because I was afraid of failing.

I’d been saying no for the wrong reasons.

So I said yes to jumping on the bed….and nothing terrible happened.

And then I kept saying yes to more things. Forts that take up the whole living room: yes. Science experiments that completely destroy the kitchen: yes. Painting during a home-improvement project: sure!

I even declared this the “Year of Yes” (admittedly without much thought…I mean, why not? What was there to lose, other than my sanity?). I didn’t read a book or get inspired by an article. It was just an epiphany that I had one night.

Saying yes

I said yes to painting, hiking, orphaned bunny adoption, staying up past bedtime, requests for dessert, and yes, even jumping on the bed.

And wouldn’t you know it? This new habit of saying yes extended past the kids. I started using it for myself. I started giving myself permission to say yes to me.

Yes to things I never really considered before: writing gigs, group exercise classes, marriage counseling. And the list goes on.

I even splurged and bought myself a brand new coffee travel mug…because it quickly became evident I’d need my caffeine to be portable if I was going to keep up with this new pace of yes.

Now, please don’t get me wrong. I still have a good, solid “no” in my back pocket, and there are certainly days when it’s my default.

“No, we do not have candy for breakfast.”
“No, you may not ride the dog.”
“No, we do not get into the pool without an adult.”
“No, I do not want to read yet another Disney princess book.” Come on, we all have our limits, right?

So, while all of the “yes” things haven’t panned out (ahem, the pet bunny lasted 36 glorious hours…rest in peace, Nutmeg), it has actually been nice giving myself (and the rest of my family) a little grace.

I still fail at a lot of these things, and I still say no a lot. But change doesn’t always have to be radical. Sometimes it just happens in tiny amounts.

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You can say no to constant busyness.

To lead your family with peace, you need to know your NOs and YESes. But what are they?

Like Your Life can help you figure them out.

18 Comments

  1. Kizzy

    Beautiful post and well done. Saying no can become so easy but when we do say yes, it’s magic on everyone is evident

  2. rosemary

    I had the same epiphany recently, with my three and one and a half year old. I also realised my saying no was affecting me just as much, I was limiting myself a lot. Really nice to see it articulated and yay for yes, more often anyway 🙂

  3. Tsh Oxenreider

    Kim, I love this! It’s so easy for me to say no, too…. Thanks for the boost to lighten up on the fun things. 🙂

  4. Brandi

    Oh my goodness! You are in my head!!! This is battle within myself I’ve been trying to win, too. I’ve noticed a big difference in the confidence of my eldest just by my saying YES more. Thanks for sharing in your witty-and-profound-as-always way.

  5. Amar Rama

    I am going to start my behavior change by saying “Yes” to more guest posts from Kim 😉

  6. Judy

    Such an enlightening thing to do! Speaking personally I wish I’d have thought of it when I was still parenting. Maybe that’s why I rarely say no to my grandkids!! Great writing Kim, as always!

  7. Kristin

    I second Amar’s sentiment!

  8. Tiffany

    This was excatly what I needed today! With kids of very close to same age as yours {5 12 & 2 1/2} our summer is turning very lackluster fast due to my constant nos, which have become as you say-a default answer. Perhaps its time to say yes instead and make this summer the fun adventure it should be!

  9. Kristin

    Great thoughts, Kim. It’s a perspective adjustment I need, for sure. Lots more good memories to be made from this positive outlook. I hope we get to see your writing again soon on the blog!

  10. Laura

    So there are other Moms out there that find the repetitiveness of no mind boggling. Life is definitely better outside and with fun memories. Thanks for sharing, Kim!

  11. Clarissa

    Yes!!!! To this article.

  12. Verónica

    “YES”! Loved this very much. I think I tend to say “no” because of that fear of messyness, as well as some fear of “what will they think”. But when I choose a “yes” day everthing runs a bit more smoothly: everyone is more relaxed and my kids do say yes to me too: yes to wash their hands, eat their food… : )

  13. Mia White

    Wow, I love this so much. So simple, yet so inspiring. I am similarly wired– exhausted, avoidant of messes, and striving for control. This is such a terrific exercise and I can see how the trickle down effect has blessed your entire family. Thanks for sharing!

  14. Lisa Henke

    KIM! I get into the NO habit, and its usually because I am tired. Thanks for the reminder to say YES to my kids and to ME!!!!

    • Lisa Henke

      I think I”ll go have a cupcake! :0)

  15. Nicole Rother

    Thank you!

  16. Greer Oharah

    Kim – I love this post! I catch myself saying no all the time – even if saying yes would be totally fine. I so appreciate you sharing your thoughts here. Would you be ok with my sharing the link to this article on my blog? Thanks!

    • Kim

      Thanks so much! I’m sure Tsh wouldn’t mind, as long as you reference The Art of Simple 🙂

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