I have two little ones and they are the light of my life. They are wonderful. They are also a never-ending fount of requests, demands, questions, and needs. It can be exhausting. A lot of them time I’m telling them no…
- Mommy, can I paint the couch? No.
- Mommy, can I have candy for dinner? No.
- Mommy, can I ride the dog? Um, nooooo.
So, I’ve been thinking lately about times when I can and should say yes. As they say, the days are long but the years are short. Here are four times when I try to always say yes:
#1 – Can I help?
My daughter is 7 and very interested in everything I’m doing. She wants to help, participate, and learn. She’ll often approach me when I’m in the midst of a complicated household task and ask to help. It’s so tempting to say no, but so worth it to say yes. It may take a bit longer to finish the recipe with her little hands in the way. She may get eggshell in the batter or spill the sugar, but it gives us a chance to really talk. She tells me things about her life in those moments that I just don’t hear at other times. Getting things done together is a great way to bond and it gives me a chance to impart skills and knowledge. So, it may take longer and be messier, but it’s worth it to say yes.
Along these lines, my 4-year-old son is now in the habit of “doing the mail” with me. I collect the mail all week in a basket near the door. He takes each piece of junk mail or envelope to the recycling while I open the next and we make it a race. The other day I did the mail without him and he was so sad. Goes to show that even the most mundane tasks can be a fun way to connect with your little ones.
#2 – Can I tell you something?
“A person’s a person, no matter how small.” – Dr. Seuss
It seems that my kids always want to tell me something important and consequential while I’m carrying a load of laundry up the steps or vacuuming the living room. They have a knack for timing. But when they ask if they can tell me something, I try to stop and listen. Their fears and concerns may seem trivial to me in the moment, but they don’t feel that way to them. And, more importantly, I want them to know that I am always there to listen so that when the big things come along, they won’t hesitate to talk to me. I can remember mulling over problems as a child that felt big and scary and hard to talk about. I’m sure they didn’t seem that way to my parents, but I always knew that I could go to them with what was on my mind and in my heart.
#3 – Can I snuggle with you?
I’m a sucker for a good snuggle. I know full well that the time is coming when they won’t want to lay in my bed in the early morning and snuggle. I try not to borrow trouble, so I push thoughts of that time out of my mind. Time feels frozen when I’m holding my children tight and whispering in their tiny ears. I know that I’ll return to that place in my mind for many years to come. For now, I’ll snuggle with them anytime they want to. Including, I should say, when I’m fully dressed for work, carrying my bag, and ready to rush out for the train.
#4 – Will you play with me?
Confession time – I only say yes to this about 40% of the time. There are a couple of reasons. Most of the time it’s because I’m checking off my weekend to-do list or trying desperately to wrangle them to bed so that I can eat dinner. And that stuff is important and real. Having an orderly home is part of how I stay centered and calm, which makes me a better mother. But, there is another reason…I don’t really enjoy kids games. It’s true! I’ve watched those moms who get down and dirty playing the kid games or doing crafts. It’s just not me. But, here’s the deal, when my kids ask me to play with them, they are inviting me into their world. Their world is fascinating and weird and funny and, when I do say yes, I usually end up enjoying it. So, I’m resolved to say yes to this one more often.
When do you try to say yes to your kids?