Setting Ground Rules for “Yes Day” and Our Yes Day

Let’s talk about setting ground rules for “yes day” and our Yes Day 2019.

A few years ago we started having a “Yes Day” each summer.

What is “Yes Day” you ask?

I’m not sure if there is an official definition of Yes Day but I consider it a day where the kids get to make plans and decide what to do during that day.

They have more freedom than the typical day and their parents say “Yes” to the plans the kids decide.

How We Do “Yes Day”

When people hear that we have Yes Day they are often very surprised.

I’m a pretty hardcore mom and others are shocked that I’d allow the kids to be in the drivers seat for planning their day.

Yes, they get to PLAN Yes Day. But it doesn’t mean that all rules go out the window.

It doesn’t mean that I don’t have “veto” power as the parent.

yes day rules

Our Ground Rules for “Yes Day”

I have very clear rules regarding Yes Day for my children.

Yes Day is a SPECIAL, FUN day. It’s a privilege. A gift from me to my kids.

It is not something that is required of me to allow of them. It is not a right of theirs.

Deciding on the Date

We always have our Yes Day during summertime on a date that MOMMY chooses.

I pick a day where we have nothing planned so the kids can have a blank canvas to work with in organizing their day.

Leading up to the day the kids come up with their plans for the day and we discuss them TOGETHER.

Working Together in Planning Yes Day

Yes Day isn’t a day where everyone does every little thing they want to do.

It’s a day that is well-planned in advance and organized.

The kids work together in making their plans.

They write out things they each want to do, to eat, to play and figure out a compromise for ways to make sure everyone gets to have items included that are important to them!

Each child knows they won’t get to do everything they want to do, so they learn to prioritize their favorite items in planning with their siblings.

Mommy Veto Power

In planning Yes Day I also explain to them that Mommy has VETO POWER.

They can plan the day, but their plans have to align with our regular schedule.

We have a toddler who isn’t going to miss nap time. I don’t care what the older kids do during nap time but we will be at home for that period of time.

They can choose what they eat, but healthy options still have to be part of the meal plan.

I don’t care if they choose strawberries, grapes, watermelon or blueberries – as long as a fruit is on their plates.

They know that Mommy has the power to say NO when they make their plans and they have a goal in mind when mapping out their day – plan it so Mommy doesn’t have to say no.

Balancing the Amount of YES in Yes Day

I am present when my children make their plans for yes day and help guide them in their choices.

They know the non-negotiable Yes Day rules and know their limits.

They may watch a movie of their choosing – but it must be a movie that we’ve already watched as a family and has been “Mommy approved”

They may have a special treat for breakfast – but that means they have to have healthy things at the other meals of the day.

They can stay up late that night – but that means they will all be having nap time the following day.

I like to set them up for success in enjoying the day by letting them know upfront what boundaries and limits exist for it.

In order for it to be a day where Mommy says YES all day long – they need to choose things that they know Mommy will say “yes” to πŸ˜‰

Our Yes Day for 2019

Our Yes Day this year fell on Thursday 13th.

Britt wrote out the plans with Kye and Tess in the car leading up to the day!

Daddy was sweet enough to pick up donuts the night prior so the kids could have their special breakfast of donuts and ice cream (If you’ve never tried it IT IS AMAZING).

The kids have been LOVING the summer reading program at our local library so they spent some time that morning writing out all their books they read to turn in the forms!

yes day rules

During Spear’s morning nap the big three wanted to watch movies and wanted to watch Tom and Jerry.

I’m not a HUGE fan of it but they watch it at school sometimes and we have some random dvd versions that apparently came from China so it was a generous “Yes” I didn’t mind giving!

After a bit of movie time they played board games together which was very sweet and they got along SO WELL.

Yes Day is a team effort and I think it really encourages them to ENJOY each other!

For lunch they had a picnic outside with their swimsuits on so they could quickly start swimming after eating!

yes day rules

We all had swim time with Spear included until nap time!

yes day rules

During naps they wanted to…shocker…have more screen time.

Can you tell I’m pretty limiting on the amount of screen time they have on a daily basis?

Limiting things like this allows for bonus time to be a special treat!

Kye played video games and the girls played games on their tablets together.

After naps Daddy happened to be home which worked out perfectly as he kept Spear so I could take the older three by the library to get more books on our way to the mall to play games at the Fun Factory before dinner!

We headed to the mall and the kids were SO disappointed when we got there and found out the Fun Factory was closed.

We let Zach know to go ahead and head up to the mall to meet us for dinner and just checked out the dining options at the mall (which are SLIM).

The girls found the Mickey items at Zales πŸ˜‰ Diamonds and Disney are a great blend!

yes day rules

The kids all chose an option from the “food court” for dinner. The girls chose CFA (shocker) and Kye got a burger from a random restaurant.

For dessert we went to Menchie’s which is a Froyo place we’ve never tried before.

It was SO GOOD.

The kids all loved it and Zach said it’s his new fav local ice cream place!

We got home at bedtime but the kids had planned on night swimming which requires it to be DARK so they hung out a bit and waited for it to get dark enough to qualify for swimming at night.

I wanted to take part in the night swimming FUN and it was such a blast together!

I usually don’t swim-swim with the kids as I’m always handling Spear and helping him swim. So they LOVED having me in the water with them to play games and jump in together!

It was one of my favorite moments of the summer so far πŸ™‚

Tess said “do we need sunscreen?”

It cracked us all up so we officially became TEAM NIGHT-SCREEN and yelled our team name every time we did group jumps together into the pool.

We also played Marco Polo which is legit HARD when you don’t cheat and peek!

The original plan for Yes Day was to end with a sibling sleepover but it was literally 9:45 when we got done with the night swimming – which is basically like midnight for my kids haha.

So Zach and I were both a solid NO on the sleepover.

The kids got ready for bed and when I went to tuck them in?

After our SUPER FUN DAY?

They. Were. COMPLAINING.

Britt was crying. Literally crying. Because she didn’t get to have a sleepover with Tess.

And Kye was complaining that the Fun Factory was closed.

And my first reaction? I felt BAD FOR THEM.

Then I got downstairs and Zach told me that they had been complaining to him about it and he told them they better not complain to Mommy since I’d been the one to put the work and effort into having the day happen.

Oh y’all.

I went from COOL MOM to HEATED MOM.

Entitlement is like my PET PEEVE.

The next morning? It was ON.

We had a BIG TALK about appreciation and gratitude and how special things won’t be happening as often because they aren’t appreciating them.

And I’ve stuck to it.

I usually plan our summers FULL and I’ve stopped. We travel a lot and when we’re home? We are AT HOME.

We have a schedule and we stick to it every day and I have ZERO guilt about it.

And ya know what? It’s still been a great summer! They’ve still had fun. We’re still making great memories.

Every day doesn’t have to be some exciting adventure. And less is MORE. The less we do the MORE they appreciate the things we do!

The reality is that I prioritize making memories and having experiences with my kids year round. We do a LOT. We go a LOT. We travel a TON. I tend to spoil my kids in experiences and it’s important to find that balance in making sure they also appreciate it and don’t just expect it all too!

The Future of Yes Day

Will Yes Day happen again? Yes.

I think there are lots of benefits to it and I like that it’s a special day every summer.

But my goal? Is that next year the kids are truly appreciative of the day and the experiences they get to have! And of course, the Yes Day rules are not going anywhere.

Update: Our YES DAY 2020 went MUCH better and we had a truly fun family day where the kids chose to go to a friend’s house to swim, have a junky food breakfast, lots of screen time, night swimming with Mommy and, yup, a sibling sleepover!

In 2020 we ALL felt so many disappointments and let downs and it gave us ALL a new appreciation for the YES DAY experience. 2020 had a lot of tough moments but a lot of great lessons too and one of the big lessons was that we have ALL learned to be grateful and appreciative of the ability TO do things more. The kids had better attitudes and SO DID MAMA. We truly soaked up the day together and all went to bed with happy, full hearts.

My own personal growth in 2020 helped me to embrace the moments better and I’m excited to see what Yes Day 2021 will bring!

yes day rules

Have you done a “Yes Day” before with your kids? What were your “Yes Day” rules?

Frequently Asked Questions about “Yes Day”

When is National Yes Day?

Yes, “Yes Day” has become so popular that it has it’s own nationally recognized holiday! The national Yes Day is on December 19th. (Personal opinion but clearly a mom didn’t decide that national holiday as December is THE most busy time of year. I vote we move the official Yes Day to July who is with me?)

Is there a Yes Day Book?

The idea of Yes Day has been around for several years and a really fun children’s book called Yes Day (by Amy Krouse Rosenthal) can add to the fun in planning your own family Yes Day too and remind us all that life is about the little joys and pleasures and the quality time making memories together with our kids.

Is there a Yes Day Movie?

What brings families together more than a fun movie night? Now there is even a Yes Day movie on Netflix starring Jennifer Garner! This family-friendly movie is filled with excellent, if not often extreme, ideas for your own family Yes Day. It will inspire parents to bring back some of that joy from childhood and to be more spontaneous and just RELAX more with your kids! Be silly, make memories, take adventures – SAY YES. You can watch Yes Day the movie on Netflix now!

Ideas for Yes Day

Here are some quick and simple Yes Day Ideas for your family. Yes Day doesn’t have to be expensive and can be simple and just as much FUN:

Watch a Family MovieVisit a local playground
Have a fun “junk food” mealExtra Screen Time
Visit the dollar store with $5 each to spend on anything!Have a sibling sleepover
Visit a local arcadePlay a family board game
Go out to eat (pizza night anyone?)Stay up extra late past bedtime
Go on an adventure to somewhere newMeet up with friends for a playdate
Visit your local libraryAnything outdoors at night: night swimming, night trampoline jumping
Kids pick out what EVERYONE wearsKids give Mommy and Daddy a makeover
Build an epic fortCreate a fun craft (bonus points for saying yes to SLIME)
Family competition – water balloon fight!Do some baking – let the kids take control
Visit a local theme park for the dayGet a special treat you normally say “no” to!
Yes Day Rules

Yes Day Rules

Here are simple ground rules for having an EPIC Yes Day as a family! Yes, you say "YES" but that doesn't mean you don't also have very clear Yes Day Rules for your kids to keep in mind while they plan their super fun family day!

Instructions

1. The date of YES DAY is determined in advance and occurs one day a year (Summer is a GREAT time for YES DAY as the weather is nice and kids don't have school)

2. Siblings must come up with the Yes Day plans together and agree on the plans for the day (encourages kids to work together!)

3. Nothing can be illegal or permanent (no piercings or tattoos or puppies happening!)

3. Any purchases being made must be planned out in advance (we're not going to go broke here!)

4. Fun meals and junk food are fine, but healthy eating has to be in the mix during the day too (no one likes to have a stomach ache or to have to spend YES DAY on the toilet due to too much junk!)

5. Limit travel distances (no one need to go on a full on road trip in one day)

6. Parents may limit screen time allowances (it's also not fun for anyone to be glued to a screen for a full day).

7. May want to also put a cap on how late kids can stay up at night (or, like we do, have plans for the NEXT day to be a more relaxed day to allow for sleeping in and naps!)

8. Family Values Still Apply (movies need to be pre-approved for content, etc)

Notes

Veto Power: Mom and Dad have the power to veto ANY plans if needed! Even though it's a YES DAY, parents are still parents πŸ˜‰

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Emily Parker

Hey Y’all, I’m Emily! I’m a stay at home mom and consider parenting to be my passion. Disney is my happiest place and I love making memories as a family together. I’m a big believer in transparency and share all of my real-life moments as a mother of four.

My work has been featured on Love What Matters, Today Parenting and Babywise.Life. I’m also honored to be a member of the Babywise Friendly Blog Network.

You can read more about our family on my About Me page. Also be sure to follow along with me on Instagram, FacebookΒ and Pinterest!

Find me on: Web | Twitter | Instagram | Facebook

7 Comments

  1. Ramsey
    February 17, 2021 / 1:46 pm

    I liked reading your article, but I didn’t see a lot of Yes day happening. This should be a day children can ask for things you normally wouldn’t say yes to. However, what I really want to point out is that I didn’t see your children explaining their frustration with some of the plans they had in place not working out as being unappreciated. They had to have a lot of these plans in place day and weeks in advance and they didn’t work out. That’s disappointing to children for sure and they are trying to cope with that feeling. As an adult, if you had planned a vacation and couldn’t see an attraction you were excited about, you would also complain. It’s not that you aren’t grateful for your vacation, it’s that you are sad about something you were excited about. That’s probably how the children felt. This is the time as a parent we help our children with these life long coping skills on how to make the most of a disappointing situation. How to acknowledge the disappointment and how to actively get past it.

    • February 17, 2021 / 3:16 pm

      Thank you for this insight!!! I really appreciate it and take it to heart – because YES after a year like 2020 we ALL have felt so much disappointment over things that others may say are minimal but are important to us. It’s important to meet our kids where they are at and I dropped the ball on that opportunity and appreciate your thoughts and ways to improve there in the future.

      • Jess
        March 13, 2021 / 10:18 pm

        I love that you owned this one as I was having a similar thought. It’s also just given me the opportunity to learn so that if my kids plan something I can check if it’s going to work out beforehand. It’s great to see that Yes Day is really a thing and I’m do glad to see that other people have put their ideas out there. Thanks so much for your article.

        • March 15, 2021 / 7:59 am

          So glad it was helpful! It def helps to plan in advance and I will say it also takes a few tries to find that right fit balance for the whole family. I think YES DAY will be so fun for you and your crew – especially after all the disappointments we’ve all faced in 2020. The world needs a little more YES DAY fun πŸ˜‰

  2. Reality Check
    April 1, 2021 / 4:28 pm

    More like mommy Gestapo day. Geez I would hate to see what a “normal” day is like in your household. Control issues much? Your kids are going to grow up repressed under your iron grip and rebel as soon as they move away. We’ve all seen how wild freshman girls get the moment they taste freedom for the first time. Your kids will set the bar for “wild” the minute they escape your oppression.

    • April 2, 2021 / 8:59 pm

      Haha I really love the effort taken in the email and name on this comment. I know you’re being snarky and coming to troll but I legit think we’d probably be friends if we met in real life. This is prob my favorite “rude” comment ever for real. As mentioned in an earlier response – We do yes day every year and this was just one experience and I def think I should have handled things a bit differently. However, I am for sure a “hardcore mom” and we have a lot of structure! I was raised with total freedom (lived on my own at 16) and wished I’d had parents who invested more in me. I strive for a healthy balance and do think if you stick around and get to “know” me better you’ll see that balance too πŸ™‚

  3. Sophia
    April 9, 2021 / 3:35 am

    I read all of this article, we are doing a yes day so good to know the rules. The ideas list helps lots too, I’m sure we will find them helpful. I think what we might do is do very similar rules, but set a budget for the day, but it will still be enough to do a lot of fun things. I think we will be more laid back as well, as I think it should feel a lot different to a normal life day, so it it more special. Thank you for your suggestions and your day! πŸ™‚

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