How to Have a Real Life Yes Day

Published by : Paul

Have you seen Yes Day? If you haven’t – it’s on Netflix right now. And while it’s a made up story about a made up family, with some “that would never happen” scenes (nobody goes rock climbing for the first time up a sheer cliff face!), it's pretty relatable to anyone with kids.

Do you know how many times you say “no” to your kids a day? Like when your toddler teases the cat – “no, no” you coo calmly. “Be gentle!”.

Or when your eldest climbs onto the windowsill up in their bedroom, in their Spider-man costume – and the window’s wide open. “NO!”, you scream as you mercifully catch them in the act.

What about when your littlest asks if they can eat their third banana of the day? “No, sorry sweetheart, you already ate the last one” you lie, while you slyly Google “how many bananas would you have to eat to kill you”.

The eldest, thankfully unscathed from their earlier Spider-man escapade, makes a case for staying up late – ”nope”. “BUT IT’S NOT EVEN SCHOOL TOMORROW!”

No, no, no. It’s the answer to everything.

And if you tallied up all the times you said no in a day, a week, a month – you’d probably feel like a miserable old grouch.

But here’s the thing; you’re not a killjoy. You’re not a fun sponge. You’re not a Negative Nelly, or a party pooper, or a wet blanket. You are a BRILLIANT parent.

You’re keeping your babies safe, healthy, and within good, predictable boundaries. This is your job, and it’s not easy. You’re not always the protagonist in your family’s stories. Sometimes, you’ve got to be “the villain”, so to speak; the Venom to their Spider-man.

But the film Yes Day turns it around. For one day, instead of saying no, the parents (played by Jennifer Garner and Edgar Ramírez) say yes to everything their kids ask – with some ground rules baked into the deal. Cue a fun-filled, slightly unbelievable, child envy-inducing film! If you’re worried that you’ll end up wishing you never heard about Yes Day, then relax – you are still the parent, and the buck stops with you.

You probably won’t have the same experience as anyone else. And you know your kids better than anyone else.

Before Yes Day was a film, it was a viral trend, and before that, a children’s book. It’s not a new thing – and lots of families have been doing it safely and reasonably, without missing out on any of the fun. Just check out the proof on YouTube – and maybe pinch a few of the sensible ideas for yourself!

If you want to try having your own, real life Yes Day, then you’re in for some magical times and great memories. You will, however, have to set some ground rules. These might be different for every family, but let’s get you started with some basics that you can build upon.

Rule Number Two – Yes Day is earned

You can have a Yes Day only if you’ve earned it. For example, if you get all your homework done on time for a whole month, or stick to your bedtime routine, or do anything else that deserves a big reward – you can cash in a Yes Day.

Rule Number Three – it lasts 24 hours;

no more, no less Yes Day starts on a pre-agreed date, from the minute you wake up, until the same exact minute the following day. So, if you wake up at 8am, do all your super fun Yes Day stuff, go to bed on time and then wake up at 7am the next day – you still have an hour of Yes Day left!

Pro tip: if this happens, always ask for pancakes for breakfast. Parents will have to say yes, even if you had them yesterday (sorry, parents).

Rule Number Four – “future yeses”

“Can we stay up late every night now? YOU HAVE TO SAY YES, IT’S YES DAY!” Very, very smart move, but sorry my little evil genius. Yes Day yeses are like Genie’s three wishes; you can’t wish for more wishes – and Yes Day yeses only count towards activities in the 24 hour window of Yes Day. Future yeses don’t work. This can also include decisions that will affect the future, like getting a puppy, or quitting school.

Rule Number Five – budget

Yes Day doesn’t have to break the bank, but if you can afford it – the why not? This can be a double edged sword, though. Consider this; Kids: “Can we go to Disney world – in Florida?” Parents: “Yes” Kids: [screaming and wailing] Yay? Not so fast...

Assuming you have the money to go the very same day, and manage to get last-minute flights and accommodation – you’ll waste your whole Yes Day packing, driving to the airport, and flying across the world. Save it for another special day, and use this one for spontaneous fun.

Budgeting can be as tight or frivolous as you want, and should include all the activities and meals for the day. But keep it simple. It’s more fun, more spontaneous, more exciting – more in keeping with the spirit of what the day is really about; moments, not money.

This brings us to the closely related Rule Number Six...

Rule Number Six – how far can you go?

Hopefully, by now you’ll have established how far you can go in your activities and spending – but how far should you go, as in... distance? The Disney World example, which blows the whole day (and probably more) could apply to any far-flung place, even one in the same country. It can be a good idea to set a boundary limit of no more than a 30-minute drive away, and also limit to activities you can all do. That means you can do more stuff, nobody gets left out, and more people get a turn to have their Yes Day questions answered.

Rule Number Seven – Yes Day is for everyone

Parents – you can get yeses too. Little brothers and sisters, you get to call the shots for part of the day. Yes Day is not chaotic anarchy, or a dictatorship headed by the eldest members of the family. Yes Day is a well-rounded democracy, where everyone has a voice. Even if that voice asks to do the same thing it does every day. Other rules to consider for Yes Day

  • No screens. Phones, tablets and game controllers get locked away 
  • Prepare Five Big Ones; questions you really want a “yes” to
  • Parents forfeit; what happens if they say “no”?

Ideas anyone can do for Yes Day

  • No housework
  • Stay up late
  • Dress a parent up – and they have to stay dressed up all day
  • Pancakes for breakfast. Anything for breakfast!
  • Have a pizza party, with music and games
  • Go to everyone’s favourite restaurant
  • Water fight. Right now.
  • Splash in the filthiest puddles you can find
  • Epic hide and seek
  • Hit every playground in your town
  • Cinema marathon; back-to-back movies, popcorn and treats
  • Go to soft play, or a trampoline park, or the swimming pool
  • Go bowling, or to Laser Quest
  • Do their favourite crafts

Hang on – is all of this any good for our children?

So, on the surface, Yes Day looks like a lot of spoiling and junk food, self-deprecation for the parents, and frankly, a lot of work. How do you come back from managing the fallout of a stimulating, off-the-rails day?

Actually, the opposite might be true, and Yes Days can be beneficial for kids.

Saying "yes" gives them a sense of control, in a world where they have very little. Being told “no” constantly can wear down their self-esteem, and it can mess with their sense of self, imagination and free play.

Read more – How children’s bedrooms shape their identities

Empowering our children is just as big a part of the job as keeping them safe. Yes Day shouldn’t be a downer – and it doesn’t have to be expensive, or draining. If you do it with solid, fair rules, it’ll be the most fun you’ve ever had as a family – and you’ll probably want to get another one in as soon as possible. Being a parent is never easy. But it shouldn’t be so hard to say yes once in a while. And if you do it right, it certainly won’t hurt.

Say YES to the best bedroom ever

Make sleep fun and adventurous – even if it's setting up camp inside the house for Yes Day! Give them a bedroom that inspires their creativity, and helps them feel calm come bedtime. Discover themed childrens bedrooms from Pea – and build a world of imagination.

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