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'Yes Day' Means Doing What Your Kids Want. The Reality Is That Will Be Tough
PHOTO BY Netflix
  • Have you seen Jennifer Garner’s latest family flick, Yes Day, on Netflix? I have to admit while watching it, I had so many strong feelings.

    I hated the way she was being treated by her family. I couldn’t stand how she was being villainized by her kids, judged by the teachers, and unsupported by her husband.

    What’s worse is that she felt the need to pander to them by giving in to a Yes Day and then engaging in all these over-the-top things just to win her kids over. That was my initial reaction.

    Give mom a break 

    Then, I unpacked my feelings and realized that I was getting so upset because I could relate to the feeling of being the bad cop parent.

    Pre-kids, I was the uber-fun tita who would do all kinds of silly stuff with my nephews and nieces. Even though I was never the jump-out-of-a-plane type of person, I definitely had more time and less pressure to goof around.

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    Now, I am the parent who usually has to say NO to junk food, staying up late, skipping breakfast, unlimited video games, unnecessary purchases, unfinished school work…and it goes on.

    Who wants to feel more guilty about having to be in charge of giving all these rules?

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    I think my big reaction to Allison Torres’ story (the character Jennifer Garner plays) was because I was feeling a bit defensive. “Give her a break, naman,” I wanted to shout at the screen.

    What is Yes Day?

    Yes Day’s idea comes from a children’s picture book written by Amy Krouse Rosenthal and illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld. It’s about a little boy who gets to do things that parents often say no to one day each year. Like pizza for breakfast, putting off cleaning one’s room, eating lunch outdoors, and inventing games.

    Years ago, Jennifer Garner helped boost the book’s popularity by posting a photo on her Instagram of doing a Yes Day with her kids. Of course, her kids in real life would just do ice cream for breakfast and sleep outdoors.

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    The spirit of Yes day is actually to help parents pause and connect with their family — listen to what their children need or want, figure out what things they are ready to do independently, and create happy memories together. It also allows children the chance to plan and make decisions and realize their consequences.

    How to have grounded-in-reality Yes Day 

    Toward the end of the movie, the children chose to do things that resulted in them realizing the importance of a grown-up, either helping to protect them or give some boundaries.

    That is really the reason we parents often say No. Not because we want to have control over our children’s lives or make them miserable, but because we want to keep them safe and prepare them for when they have to make all these decisions on their own.

    For those interested in having your own Yes Day, it would be good to set a few ground rules.

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    #1 Activities should be safe for ALL members of the family

    Yes, that includes the grown-ups. We have to follow rules of safety and cannot break any laws or cause considerable damage. I still cringe when recalling the car wash scene in the movie, thinking about how they will dry the car interior.

    #2 Children can plan the activities

    If you have more than one child, the siblings must be able to agree. And the plan should align with everyone’s schedules or needs.

    For example: If a family has a toddler who needs to nap at a particular time, the older siblings plan an activity (video games or a movie).

    #3 Children can only plan activities just for that specific day

    No to making plans that last two to three days.

    #4 The parents can set reasonable boundaries

    Like how far they are willing to drive or how much money they are willing to spend on food or treats. Yes Day does not give children the license to buy expensive purchases, no matter how much they want them.

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    #5 Yes Day should be done on a weekend

    So everyone (Dad too!) has cleared their schedule and is available to partake in the day’s festivities.  When many families are having financial worries and being asked to stay home, Yes Day can be very simple yet super enjoyable.

    I asked my children what they would want if we did one. My 10-year-old daughter said things like no homework, order McDo, turn on the air-con and watch TV with mom (who cannot turn her computer on the whole day), and mini-spa or pedicures for her and me while the boys play video games in another room.

    My 13-year-old son said if kids were allowed out of the house on Yes Day, he would want to spend it exploring bike trails, then come home to play Super Smash Bros Ultimate on the Switch.

    All of it so doable, right? What do you think your children want to do?

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