How to have a family yes day (and why you should!)

Ideas for making a family yes day fun for everyone

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A couple of months ago, my kids watched the movie “Yes Day” on Netflix at my parents’ house. Since then, they’ve talked about how they wanted to have a family yes day as well. In fact, as we made a list of activities we wanted to do this summer, family yes day made it onto the list.

And so a couple of weeks ago, we picked a Saturday and declared it would be our family yes day. My husband and I had some concerns and weren’t all that sure what to expect. The kids forbade us from watching the “Yes Day” movie beforehand, though they shared about some of the antics in the movie. Just like that our yes day was underway, and I’m so glad we did it!

What exactly is a family yes day?

A family yes day is a day when parents say yes to anything the kids ask them. Basically, it means the kids get to be in charge. The yes day in the movie lasted 24 hours, according to the movie trailer. Our yes day was from the time we woke up (at a time our kids chose) until we went to sleep that night.

Saying yes to anything kids ask for sounds a bit scary and potentially alarming. So, as a family we agreed to a few ground rules ahead of time. We tried to keep the rules simple and straight forward. My daughter wrote them down for us.

  1. All rules apply!
  2. Parents may sit out when involving major fears or inconveniences.
  3. Any toy purchases come from the kids’ own money.
  4. No asking for living things.
  5. Say yes!

While our kiddos had about six days to plan their yes day after we made these rules, another option is to just pick a day and say yes to whatever the kids ask without them knowing ahead of time. I suggest letting them do some planning, though. At least for my kiddos the anticipation is half of the fun. (Another bonus is it gets them to work together on something!)

Making plans

Once we had finalized our rules for yes day, our kids got to work coming up with ideas of what they’d like to do for the day. They sequestered themselves in my daughter’s room so we wouldn’t know anything. The pair of them even made arrangements with grandparents for things. They asked my in-laws to watch our dog for the day. And they asked my parents for a day to come over and do some work for yes day.

Meanwhile, my husband and I were beginning to wonder what we’d gotten ourselves into and what they were going to have us do!

I learned after the fact that the kids did some online searching for ideas. They checked the weather forecast. Rain was predicted for the Saturday we chose, so some activities wouldn’t work out well. Because my daughter is much like I am, they also made an itinerary for the day complete with approximate times for everything. They were well prepared!

Earlier in the week as they were making their plans, I mentioned to my daughter that I wanted to make sure her little brother had an equal say in the day. I do see that could certainly be an area of conflict among siblings. My kiddos feel very strongly about being fair, though. They did a great job at balancing the day with things they both wanted to do.

Ideas for family yes day

Let’s get to the fun stuff of what actually happened for yes day! The kiddos told us we needed to be ready for the day by 7:30 a.m. and that we shouldn’t eat breakfast.

A breakfast treat

Our first stop was a local doughnut shop where we each picked a sweet pastry for breakfast. My 8-year-old son chose to wear his PJs for the first part of the day. We don’t usually let him go places in his PJs, but we couldn’t tell him no!

Shopping

The next stop was Walmart for my son because he wanted to do some toy shopping. He used his own money and purchased a truck set he’d had in mind. (Thanks to not being out much for the past year and a half because of the pandemic, my kids both had a decent amount of money in their spending. They were able to have small shopping sprees!)

My daughter opted to wait until we got back home after that stop and order online. She’s wanted a giant teddy bear for years. We’ve always said no, because where are you going to put a 5-foot tall bear?! But, we couldn’t say no on family yes day. Plus we had just finished cleaning out and reorganizing her bedroom with her, so she really did have room for the bear. She also added in some stickers she’d been eying to use in her new room decor and some new scrunchies that you can store small items in.

Getting crafty

The kids asked to make fluffy slime. We hadn’t don so for a while, but thankfully we had the ingredients needed for fluffy slime: shaving cream, glue, baking soda and contact solution. We’ve made this slime recipe a couple of other times and it turns out well, but we hadn’t made it for about two years. We were overdue. And my sweet kiddos gave me my own glob, because I love slime!

Water fun

Our next activity was a bit crazy. We live in the Midwest where July weather is usually hot and humid. On our family yes day, however, we had an atypical cool day with highs in the low 70s and rain forecasted. But that didn’t deter my kids from wanting to have a water balloon fight. We’ve never done that and evidently it was something they’ve been pining to do.

On their day with my parents, they went shopping and my parents got these easy-fill water balloons. We got them filled pretty quickly and then proceeded to chase each other around the yard with them. There were lots of shrieks and giggles!

Lunch

After drying off, we were all ready for lunch. We made our typical lunches, but the kids had a rule that we could eat anywhere except the kitchen table. One sat on the fireplace hearth and the other on the dining room floor. My husband and I opted for the couch!

Obstacle course

During virtual school, we had a couple of times that our gym assignment was making an obstacle course. The kids wanted to do that on family yes day, so I helped them sit it up downstairs using kitchen chairs, stools, a yoga mat and some fabric squares. Basically, it worked like “The Floor is Lava” where they couldn’t touch the ground. They did a couple of tweaks as they went and then wanted to time themselves to see how much faster they could get.

Downtime

The kids had extra time in the schedule, so we had some family downtime for a bit. They had planned some family downtime, but we ended up with just a bit more than they had planned, which was nice for their tired parents!

Chuck E. Cheese’s

The next activity was a trip to Chuck E. Cheese’s to play games. I wasn’t super excited for this idea, and it was the busiest place we’ve been since before the pandemic, but my son really wanted to go. Plus, how could we say no? So we spent 45 minutes playing games. My daughter, who isn’t as excited about Chuck E. Cheese’s these days, was sweet to humor her brother.

Early dinner

If my kids can pick anywhere to eat, they always pick Fazoli’s. So we weren’t shocked that’s where they wanted to have dinner on our family yes day.

Cake decorating

According to the kids, the next activity was a bit last minute. They had planned for us to go see a movie, but that didn’t work out for a variety of reasons, which they realized the day before. Instead, we came home and they wanted to have a cake decorating competition. I got a slightly modified cake in the oven in two round pans and then whipped up some buttercream icing.

My daughter found an image of a bear and we divided into teams. Our objective was to recreate the image of the, but we didn’t have to use the same color as the bear. My husband and daughter worked on a brown bear, while my son and I decided on blue for our bear. We let grandparents pick the winner via photos or video without telling them who did which cake. My son and I won just barely.

And then, we had some tasty cake at the same time the kids would usually be going to bed!

Our cake inspiration
Cake A from my husband and daughter
Cake B from my son and me

Fort building

As we were getting into bedtime mode, the kids had planned to make a blanket fort in the loft and sleep there. They switched to making it our bedroom, though. My son planned to sleep in it all night. My daughter hung out there until she was ready to sleep and then went to her own bed. The fort turned out very well using our kitchen chairs, blankets and some clamps.

The blanket fort before it got filled with glowing balloons, blankets and pillows

Glowing in the dark

The final activity for yes day was using all sorts of glow bracelets and balloons that they had gotten from the Dollar Tree with my parents. As we blew up balloons, we put one or two activated bracelets in them to create glowing balloons. Some glow bracelets stayed out.

Benefits of our family yes day

My husband and I were quite surprised at what our kids picked to do for yes day. We had visions of them wanting to go on excursions out of town or do major activities. But instead they really just wanted to do fun stuff. Chances are, we would have said yes to many of these things at different times. I know we wouldn’t have said yes to them all in the same day. And, honestly, some of them seemed like more effort than they actually were.

I don’t want my kids to always think of their dad and me as saying no. Of course we can’t usually say yes to everything, but letting them have the freedom to just have fun with our yeses was more than worth it. They completely loved the day. I was proud of how they worked together to plan the day. Seeing them excited to be calling the shots and in charge was so much fun!

The best part to me is that we made good family memories. I took photos. We laughed. We won’t forget yes day any time soon. The kids asked to have another one again sometime. Our answer? Yes!

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How to have a family yes day (and why you should!)How to have a family yes day (and why you should!)