Parents are having 'yes days' with their kids and it might inspire you to try one

Thanks to Jennifer Garner, 'yes days' are becoming popular in the world of parenting. Here's how other families are making the trend work for them.

Parents are trying 'yes days' with their kids
Jennifer Garner/Instagram

When I first heard about Jenifer Garner and the annual 'yes day' she has with her children, my exact thoughts were: "Good for her. Not for me." The concept of a yes day is pretty simple—parents agree to their children's requests for a whole day.

When I imagined my own family trying a yes day, I had visions of pure chaos: My home in absolute disarray, my kids tucking into eight-scoop ice cream sundaes, an 11 p.m bedtime and a small fortune spent on toys. Quite frankly, that just felt too stressful.

The idea of a yes day seems super cute, and I commend Garner and the other parents out there who have the patience and fortitude to take on this trend. The concept is catching on big time right now, with Garner starring in a movie inspired by the tradition and parents everywhere jumping on the bandwagon. For my own family, thought? It just felt way too daunting.

But then I came across a Reddit thread from a mom who gave her 7-year-old son his first yes day, and I can't lie: It made me rethink the whole concept a bit. More than that, it made some really important points about what kids (and their parents) really want. And I'll admit it: I actually can really see the appeal of a yes day—particularly right now, as our kids have been denied so much in the past year.

The mom shared that she has two very important rules for her family's yes day: Everything her son requests must be safe and possible. "It made me realise his wants were so so so very simple," the mom wrote. Her son's requests included a trip to the playground, a drink from the vending machine, a chance to play his favorite game on his mom's phone, a walk by the beach and dinner at his favorite restaurant. "My heart is so full now," the mom shared. "And you should have seen how his eyes lit up."

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A trip to the playground and a little extra time with mama's phone? Those sound like requests I could happily indulge. So maybe there is something to this whole yes day thing. Maybe kids don't really want to buy expensive things or consume mounds of sugar. Maybe they just want to enjoy fun quality time with their families.

Fellow parents chimed in with their own experiences with yes day, and they also drive home an important point about what this type of day can be. "I've never heard of a yes day. I like the idea. I think the only rule I would add is that it should have a budget," one user commented. But others replied with their own experiences: "I think what's interesting about not starting with a budget is that there are a lot of kids who pick things that don't cost much money (my son would probably ask to go to the park, play mario kart together, do family game night, and get an ice cream from the ice cream truck, no matter the time of day)," one fellow parent replied.

A fellow Motherly writer had a yes day of her own, and found something similar. "I realized that aside from all of the out-of-control requests for sweets, most of what my son asked for was my time," she wrote. "He wanted to play with me and he wanted my undivided attention, and when he got it, he was the happiest I'd seen him in a while." And honestly, just reading that makes me a little bit emotional.

I think I'm coming around to this whole yes day idea based on what other mamas have experienced. As parents, we spend so much time saying "no". No to extra screen time, no to extra treats, no to staying up late—and, in this day and age, no to things like playdates or birthday parties or even going going back to in-person school. Maybe our kids need something like this right now. Maybe we need something like this right now, too.

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