The Yes Challenge

I found this post in my drafts and thought I would publish it even though I never finished it. A little over a year ago, several months before I started my job outside the home, my sister and I had been chatting on the phone and lamenting how we felt we were constantly saying "no!" to everything our children asked us to do or give them. We decided to do a "yes challenge" -- basically for a whole week we would say yes to everything our kids asked us to do, and we would check in on one another periodically. I don't think it even lasted a whole week, but it was a learning experience. Reading my notes on Day 2 made me realize that saying yes meant I had to pay attention to my child more, so it wasn't so much the saying yes that made Hunter so happy but actually getting Mommy's attention. Such a great reminder...

Day 1
I was just getting the children dressed after lunch (yes, you read that right, after lunch) when I realized today was Day 1 of the Yes Challenge. At that point it was 1 pm and I still needed to go to the Post Office and Costco.

I started going through the morning in my head trying to think of all the times I said no and yes. I also started thinking about how I probably should have come up with some ground rules before diving into this challenge. The only rule was say yes to everything and that is really tough.

Q: Mommy, will you play cars with me?
A: Not right now.

Q: Mommy, will you make a Lego Gingerbread house with me?
A: Yes.
And we did that for probably like 45 minutes while the baby napped. 

That was all I could remember from the morning. If this were a point system, I'd have been at 0. -1 for the "not right now" answer and +1 for the "yes" answer. That's the moment I thought, Maybe I should do this on the point system...

After lunch we got in the car to run errands. As I am buckling him in, Hunter kicks off his boots to reveal he did not put socks on like I had asked him to do about 5000 times. I resisted the urge to lecture him about socks. I just said, "Hunter, you didn't put on socks?" And he said, "I didn't want to." Letting that go, I decided, was worth +1 point.

You should know that the post office I go to is actually inside a party supply store. Ugh. And today, the line was about 10 people long. Hunter asked to look in the party favor aisle, so I said, "Yes." +1 point

Then he asked for a lolly pop, and immediately I said, "No." But then I remembered it was Day 1 of the Yes Challenge, so I said, "Ok, yes, sure," and he looked shocked. "I can have one mommy?" But then I was like, I don't want to buy him that HFCS junk, so I said, "Actually, Hunter, mommy just bought some yummy lolly pops to put in your Christmas stocking. They will come in the mail this week. You can have a lolly pop then." -1 point

After I paid at the Post Office counter, Hunter asked, "Can you put 5 minutes on the timer so I can look at the toys?" We were back at the favor aisle. I said, "Yes." +1 point.

At Costco...

"I don't want to wear my jacket." "OK." +1
"Can we get ice cream?" "No." -1
"Can we look at the toys?" "Yes." +1

Back at home...

"Can I watch TV?" "Yes." +1
After 3 episodes of Dinosaur Train (Free Prime episodes), he asked, "Can I watch one that you have to pay for?" "No." -1

Overall score: 3 points

I think I like the point system. I will make my goal 10 points. The main thing I want is to say more yeses than nos. Sometimes I need to say no. I can't spend all our money on whatever he wants us to buy. I also can't say yes to things that put him in danger. "No" is necessary sometimes. But 10 points means that I will have to say 10 MORE yeses than nos. That is a lot of yeses and a lot of positivity. Let's see how this goes Day 2. 

Day 2 -- Here are the requests and questions that I encountered throughout the day, mostly in chronological order.
Can I eat this chocolate? (Very hesitantly) Yes. +1
Can we open that package? No. (It had Xmas presents inside!) -1
Can I have my vitamin D and advent calendar? Yes. +1
Can I play with your wallet? No. He plays with it anyway and I don't stop him. +0
Can we get out a new ball for Paloma's toy? Yes. +1
Will you help me get dressed? Yes. (Normally I would say, "You can do it yourself," but when I said yes, I got the biggest smile from him and a big hug too!) +1
Can I wear shorts today? No. -1
I want soft pants (not these). OK. +1
Will you read the car book to me? Yes. The whole thing? (It's the longest picture book ever.) Yes. +1
Can we go to Ikea today? Let's go somewhere where we can play outside instead. (That's basically a no.) -1
Can I have cake and an apple for breakfast? Yes. +1
Can I poke this apple with a fork until it's broken into tiny pieces all over the table? Suuuuure! +1
Can I put a sticker on me? No. (They were actually stamps for mailing Xmas cards.) -1
Can I have pickles? Yes. +1
Lunch is served: Can I have your salmon? Yes. Two apple sauce pouches? Yes. +2
Can we do Special Time? Yes. +1
Can we keep playing? No. You need to take a nap. -1
Will you read me a book before nap? Yes. +1
Wake up from nap: Can we stay home and play? No. We need to go to the store. -1
Pit stop at the beach so kids can play for a bit: Can I take my monster trucks? Yes. +1
Can we go get pumpkin bread and hot chocolate? Sorry, buddy. Maybe tomorrow. -1
Trader Joe's: Can I take my monster truck? Yes. Can I get a little shopping cart? Yes. +1
After dinner: Can I watch a movie (Stick Man; 30 min)? Yes. +1
After bath and teeth brushing: Can we play cars? Yes, for 5 mins. +1
After 5 mins: Can we keep playing? No. -1
Can I have a tangerine? Yes, but you have to brush your teeth again. +1
After 2 books: One more book? No. (We are sleepy!) -1

10 points! I did it! and it was a great day! Hunter listened more, smiled more, and I was generally in a better mood. I still growled at him a couple of times (to get his socks on, get in the car, etc.) but overall it was a much better day than most days. Saying yes is good for everyone!

Day 3 -- A not-so-restful night of sleep, means I wake up very tired and grumpy. I put TV on for about 45 minutes so I can rest a bit longer before dragging myself out of bed. Hunter was thrilled, but that doesn't necessarily mean he will be cooperative later.

I am trying to get some things organized and Hunter asks twice if I will play with him, cars and then Lincoln Logs. Both times I say yes, but don't actually do it. -2

Instead I decide to break down all the shipping boxes that have accumulated in our living room since I have done all my Christmas shopping almost exclusively online. Since I still haven't played with Hunter, he is desperate for my attention and gets totally in the way of my work. I bark at him a bunch and become Monster Mommy. I know it is a bad idea to work on this, but I just can't stand the pile of boxes. Once I am finished, I remind myself about the Yes Challenge and vow to do better the rest of the day.

The rest of the day was a roller coaster of alternating highs and lows. We went to the library and then met Isaiah for lunch, all the while I sprinkled in some nos with a few yeses. Several things he did totally bugged me, and other things made me laugh and smile. I read him lots of books, we squeezed in some Special Time and Lincoln Logs before bed, but we never did go get pumpkin bread and hot chocolate and that was really disappointing for him. I said no to things I could have easily said yes to, and it's those moments that I need to reflect on. Today it happened because of time constraints. We were either waiting on something or had somewhere we needed to be at a certain time. How can I work around that?

I lost count, but at the end of the day, I probably earned about 5 points. Better than Day 1, but still not great. It could have been better. Must go to bed earlier...

1 comment

  1. this is terrifying, i can't do this challenge!! i did make pancakes this morning at wesleys request. if i said yes to everything he'd be watching cartoons ALL DAY. i feel like thats all he wants lately so i have to constantly make excuses about things we have to do first, etc. oh man.


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