Do your kids feel like you say no to them all the time?
Are you willing to take a risk?
Then it’s time for a Yes Day!
A Yes Day is when you let your kids call the shots and you get to say Yes! to (almost) everything.
In this article I’ll explain how to set up a Yes Day that everyone in the family will enjoy.
Why Have a Yes Day?
It’s fun to say “yes” for a whole day. A Yes Day is a special day once a year when the answer to every question is “yes.” How often does that happen?
It’s fun for kids because they have to think about what they want and then make requests. And it’s fun for parents because, really, who likes to say “no” all the time?
A Yes Day is mostly fun and games, but it requires minor preparation and rules (just a few). Even the most spontaneous activities need some pre-thought. Set up boundaries ahead of time so that everyone stays safe, you don’t spend too much money and the kids eat a few healthy things that day.
This idea comes from the book, Yes Day! by Amy Krouse Rosenthal. The book shows the son asking if he can have pizza for breakfast and have a food fight, among other silly requests.
One way to surprise your kids with a Yes Day is to give them the book to introduce the concept. Once everyone’s on board (like they’ll say “no“), schedule your Yes Day for a time that works for everyone.
In this video, illustrator Tom Lichtenheld speaks with author Amy Krouse Rosenthal about their book, Yes Day.
Read the book again on “Yes Day Eve” to get your kids excited about the next day’s adventure.
#1: Decide on the Frequency of Yes Days
Before you schedule a Yes Day, determine how many you’ll have.
Gather the family to make these important decisions. After all, these are your first Yes Day negotiations. You may even want to brainstorm some Yes Day ideas to get the ball rolling. The movie, Yes, Man, starring Jim Carrey is all about the joys and challenges of saying “yes” to everything!
If you have more than one child, you can give each child his or her own Yes Day.
You can also choose to hold a single Yes Day each year for your kids to share. With a shared Yes Day, kids make their requests as a team.
This is what our family does and it’s interesting to watch the kids brainstorm ideas and then negotiate and compromise to decide which ones they can squeeze into one Yes Day.
It also very important to determine whether the parents get a Yes Day! As long as you use your Yes Day for good (fun things) and not evil (chores), there’s no reason you shouldn’t have a crack at it.
Another option: Have a Yes Day once a year, but incentivize your kids to earn additional Yes Days. Give them points for good grades, study time, chores, books read, etc. And if they get enough points, they can turn them in for a bonus Yes Day in the middle of the year.
If you hold multiple Yes Days throughout the year, be careful not to have them so often that they lose their allure. Keep them rare and precious!
For the purpose of this article, we’ll assume a single, annual, shared Yes Day, where the kids make the decisions together.
#2: Schedule Your Yes Day
Pick a day that you can devote exclusively to your kids. You want to have your schedule totally clear so you can say “yes” to any idea they have. We have ours at the same time every year, over a school holiday and when our workload is lighter, so that we can really relax.
Consider the seasons and the activities your kids enjoy most before scheduling. If your kids like summer activities, pick a nice summer day. Or if they’re into indoor activities or snowy adventures, a day during winter break may be just fine.
#3: Establish Rules
Create some initial boundaries so your kids know they can’t ask to go to Disney World or buy a new bike or make other expensive, over-the-top requests on Yes Day.
There’s one rule that needs to be at the top of the list: Kids can’t ask for anything in the future. This covers the inevitable question, “Can tomorrow be Yes Day, too?” and preserves the fun of Yes Day so you aren’t forced to answer “no” to any question.
There are other rules you may want to set to ensure everyone eats well, has fun and doesn’t break the bank.
- Eat three good meals. The kids can have candy in the morning or ice cream when they want but they need to make sure they leave room for three good meals during the day.
- Set a spending limit. Set a spending limit for each child for the day. The spending limit would include money spent on activities and food. For example, my children wanted to go to the store and buy sugary cereal since I never allow that and the cost of the cereal went toward the spending limit. You may want to allow them to supplement the limit with their own money.
- Have a driving distance limit. You may not want them to get too creative with where they want to go and ask to drive for hours. Set a limit and help them understand which activities are within that driving limit.
- Limited screen time. Another limit could be around screen activities. However, your kids may limit themselves in order to do all of the other activities they want. My kids play video games much longer than they are typically allowed on Yes Day, but they also realize there are much cooler things they can do and independently decide not to waste the entire day on video games.
- Establish bedtime. You may want to decide how late they can sleep in and/or what time they have to go to bed in advance.
The other essential rule is no dangerous or illegal activity. This is a good catch-all rule to make sure they don’t ask you to drive 100 miles an hour to the bowling alley or egg the neighborhood bully’s house.
Don’t let the rules dampen Yes Day! Make sure your kids know the rules ahead of time so they can sink in, and the kids can plan their day within the boundaries.
#4: Make a List of Activities
Prior to Yes Day, help your kids think of things they might want to fit into their Yes Day. That way, they’re prepared to ask for some of their favorite things.
You may want to suggest some fun ideas too. Remind them of activities they’ve talked about but you haven’t had time for in the past, like rock climbing or a water balloon fight. Start your own list ahead of time so you have suggestions when the kids start planning Yes Day.
Also clue the kids in on how long certain activities take (including drive time) so they know what will and won’t fit in that day. You’ll probably have time for one or two long adventures and a whole bunch of short ones.
Also ask if there is anything special they might want to do that involves planning on your part, such as ingredients for a favorite meal or an activity that requires reservations or equipment.
#5: Have Fun on Yes Day!
On Yes Day, have a great time. That’s the most important part of the adventure. Enjoy the opportunity you have to say “yes” all day long.
Make sure the kids are the ones calling the shots throughout the day. Allow for spontaneity, but provide some gentle reminders on the time. That way, they don’t run out of day to get in all of their favorite things.
Keep in mind it can be exhausting to always be the enforcer while keeping the day fun for everyone. Your first Yes Day may have some hiccups. But no worries, you’ll correct them next year.
Your kids will enjoy hearing “yes” so many times that they’ll think of lots more “yes” questions to ask. By the end of the day, they’re likely to have a list started for next year’s Yes Day activities.
Some Final Thoughts…
A Yes Day is an excellent family adventure for many reasons. It’s important every once in a while to have a day of fun and no responsibility.
Kids need to hear “yes.” It improves their self-confidence and empowers them to make good decisions. Plus, it’s so much fun to watch the joy on your kids’ faces as “yes” rolls in all day long.
What do you think? Have you had a Yes Day? Are you ready to schedule one? What’s your kids’ one must-have “yes” for Yes Day? What’s yours? Please share your adventures from Yes Day, along with photos, in the comments.
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