How To Make ‘Yes Days’ A Reality in Your Home

family jumping for joy on the beach

Your kids watched Yes Day on Netflix and are begging to have their own whirlwind adventure with you. While you viewed the movie as humorous fiction, they viewed it as an imminent fact. 

Maybe you want to say “yes” to a Yes Day. But you just can’t wrap your head around the logistics. Or, maybe you don’t. Because the idea petrifies you. 

Your kids have amazing imaginations. Last year, your 4-year-old asked for a rainbow unicorn for Christmas. A real one. And your 8-year-old really wants a mosquito petrified in amber for his bringing-dinosaurs-back-to-life project.

Your kids aren’t afraid to push buttons. Your twelve-year-old is always asking for mature-rated video games. And your seventeen-year-old has been insisting on an unsupervised spring break adventure with friends. 

You find yourself saying “no” a lot, and with good reason. But the atmosphere at home can feel relentlessly fraught. (If you feel trapped in endless power struggles like these, our free online class will teach you how you can give kids power and satisfaction without the struggle or ‘giving in.’) 

I mean, your kids can–and do–ask for everything. A Yes Day could be a total disaster. 

But, despite all implications, this doesn’t have to be a free-for-all. That would be scary!

In reality, a day like this requires ground rules. These aren’t meant as buzzkills or to make you less committed. They’ll actually make your day more efficient and effective. 

We have some ideas for how you and your family can design a Yes Day that everyone will enjoy. But, first, are you wondering if the payoff is worth the effort?

Why You Should Have a Yes Day

Connection 

A Yes Day is an opportunity to connect with our children as fellow, life-loving humans–not just as parents.

Just think…

You were a child once. But at this very moment, those childhood memories may not ring a bell. Bells sound joyous and resonant. Your adult bell is dampened by the weight of stress and responsibility. It’s rusted, inflexible, and barely makes a ding. 

They say that’s one of the greatest gifts of parenthood, though; the opportunity to see the world anew through a child’s eager, awe-filled eyes. 

Plus, it feels good to reacquaint with our inner fountains of youth. And the bonus? Our kids love it when we do. 

At Positive Parenting Solutions, we rave about a tool called Mind, Body, and Soul Time. It constitutes spending 10-15 minutes–every day–with each of your kids (one parent per child) doing something they choose. 

Mind, Body, and Soul Time can be enhanced (though not replaced!) to include the entire household (or any combination of household adults and kids). This is considered family Mind, Body, and Soul Time, and it’s beneficial bonding for all. 

You can think of a Yes Day as family Mind, Body, and Soul Time times ten. Kids still choose the activities while you play along for 24 hours (or 12, if you all like to sleep!)

When parents play with their kids in a fun, silly, and even childlike state of mind, a deep connection is formed. It reminds kids you aren’t just mom/dad (teenagers may find you particularly antiquated), and it shows them you value your quality time together. 

This gives kids an amazing, irreplaceable boost of confidence and significance. 

“Although the downside might be extreme tiredness and sugar shock, the upside (to a Yes Day) is a boost to your child’s self-confidence.” — The Guardian

Bonding with our kids on multiple levels also increases trust, communication, and cooperation

Empowerment

Another benefit of a Yes Day is it offers kids some choice and freedom over their increasingly scheduled and micromanaged lives. 

According to CNN:

Though most parents know they should leave some space, temporal and psychological, for their kids to be themselves, many of us appear to be struggling with it. In recent decades, anxiety has spiked among children and teens. Mental health experts attribute this spike to a rise in external pressures and feeling as though someone else is calling all the shots.

If you encourage kids to plan a Yes Day, it can grant them a little breathing room. 

It also provides opportunities for growth and empowerment. 

Kids brainstorming their ideal day practice decision-making, organization, prioritization, and logistics–all crucial life skills that many kids are either robbed of or exposed to too late. 

They may even learn how hard YOUR daily job as a parent can be. Wouldn’t that be nice?

So, You Definitely Should Have a Yes Day. But When, and How Often?

Your Yes Day can be once a year or every few months. That’s up to your family and your preferences. 

A Yes Day can be strategized during a difficult time for a family, like the loss of a loved one, stress from moving, or a divorce. It can be a much-needed, carefree kind of day that eliminates stress for a brief but helpful time.

Or, you can plan one just because

But please…a Yes Day should not occur just because kids feel entitled to one. And it should be put on the calendar in advance, so everyone can look forward to and plan for it (you included!).

A Yes Day isn’t a mandatory or essential part of a solid, happy childhood. Nor is it designed for child-appeasing, spoiling, and ignoring important boundaries that your kids need. 

A responsible Yes Day is simply about empowerment and relationship-building–and the vessel is FUN! 

‘Yes Day’ Parameters Everyone Can Agree On

If you’re going to execute a Yes Day successfully, you know it has to feel right. 

We completely understand. To make the biggest impact, this day should be authentic for everyone. 

Since Yes Days aren’t a last-minute surprise, kids have the opportunity to understand and agree to the ground rules beforehand.

Amy McCready Yes Day quote

The parents in the Yes Day movie, for example, create guidelines that make the day reasonable and fair to all (this day isn’t JUST about kids)! 

These rules offer a great template for your Yes Day too, and they include:

  • A budget (either for the family or per child)
  • Nothing can be requested that permanently affects the future (like adopting a pet or getting a tattoo)
  • Obviously, nothing dangerous or illegal 
  • Nothing that involves travel beyond 20-50 miles (or some unreasonable) distance

One caveat: In the movie, the kids are told the Yes Day must be earned (by getting good grades and doing their chores). But we disagree. 

Positive parenting highly discourages the use of rewards for motivation in any situation, so it’s important never to frame a Yes Day as a reward for good behavior or celebrated achievements. 

If we do, we may undermine the magic of the day. It’s no longer about fun, connection, and empowerment; it’s now tied to a child’s performance.

If you are struggling to motivate your kids, trust me, there are much better tools at a parent’s disposal that avoid contributing to expectation and entitlement.

free parenting class

Ideally, your kids are already encouraged to act appropriately, finish their homework, and commit to family contributions, regardless of having a Yes Day. 

(Still, you might not want to plan the day right after a bombed report card or a substantial sibling fight). 

Another good rule is to encourage kids to remain sincere on Yes Day and not attempt to trick you into saying yes to something out of bounds. Putting a parent in an awkward position, where they feel forced to say yes is, first: manipulative, and second: not going to work

Here’s another consideration: should you stray from reliable family morning and bedtime routines on Yes Day? 

This depends on your kids and what you’re comfortable with. Routines are ideally followed every day, regardless of weekends and holidays, school time, or summer. But, if your kids easily adapt to a brief blip in a solid schedule–and one of the Yes Day requests breaks routine parameters–feel free to roll with the craziness! 

The bottom line is: you can use any rules you deem necessary for your family.

It’s also important to remember that your family’s Yes Day isn’t going to look like the neighbor’s Yes Day or your kid’s friend’s Yes Day. Your Yes Day will be unique and bring out everyone’s distinct personalities. You may even learn one or two things about one another. 

Sticking to the ‘Yes’ Plan

The hardest part of Yes Day, as you can imagine, is staying committed through thick and thin. You may have to take a deep breath before you utter some of those “Yeses.” You may have to force a smile through others. 

While solidifying your rules and parameters for the day, consider putting them in writing. Kids can sign this agreement (or make an “X”), and parents too! This way, when kids ask for something out of bounds, there’s no reason to say “no.” Instead, you can simply remind them, “We’ve already agreed we can’t do that.” 

Because your Yes Day is pre-planned (either by your kids specifically or all of you), you may have foresight into the day’s activities. Take that opportunity to mentally prepare for anything that may be especially challenging to you (spinning rides that make you sick at the theme park, watching your kids consume much more sugar than you’d normally allow, learning the latest TikTok dances in front of strangers…). 

Minimizing unpleasant surprises will help you stay positive and say Yes–with emphasis!!   

And if you absolutely have to say “no,” that’s fine! You’re still the parent, and you have “veto” power. But you can also try to say “no” in a roundabout way or make your “no” sound like a “yes.” This can be through a diversion, another question, or an alternative solution. You can even use a predetermined symbol, like crossed pointer fingers, meaning“sorry, try again.”

If both parents will be involved in Yes Day, make sure you are equally on board with strategies for the challenges the day brings. 

Final Thoughts

Your family’s Yes Day is likely to be everything from eye-opening, inspiring, exhausting, frustrating, and downright fantastic–and that will be the first ten minutes. 

While you decompress the following day, consider a debrief of your Yes Day. Start by asking which parts your kids loved the best. Ask what they’re most grateful for. And talk about what may have gone wrong…and why. 

This can become a helpful guideline for future Yes Days. You’ll remember what worked and what you’d like to do differently. It also gives your kids an opportunity to practice reflection and additional planning skills!

Each Yes Day can always get better. 

But, whether grandiose or low-key, your Yes Day will be an adventure to remember. So, don’t let it intimidate you. Using these strategies, you can make Yes Day a reality!

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About the Author

Amy McCready
Nationally recognized parenting expert Amy McCready is the Founder of Positive Parenting Solutions and the best selling author of The “Me, Me, Me” Epidemic - A Step-by-Step Guide to Raising Capable, Grateful Kids in an Over-Entitled World and If I Have to Tell You One More Time…The Revolutionary Program That Gets Your Kids to Listen Without Nagging, Reminding or Yelling. As a “recovering yeller” and a Certified Positive Discipline Instructor, Amy is a champion of positive parenting techniques for happier families and well-behaved kids. Amy is a TODAY Show contributor and has been featured on CBS This Morning, CNN, Fox & Friends, MSNBC, Rachael Ray, Steve Harvey & others. In her most important role, she is the proud mom of two amazing young men.