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Monday, July 21, 2014

becoming a YES mom

A couple of months ago I read the book No More Perfect Moms by Jill Savage. Here is the link to the review of the book 

She talked about being a YES mom.

Essentially, a mom who does not always automatically say NO to things her child requests. She thought it was very common that we moms say no a lot, just instinctively. Because we're in a rush, distracted, exhausted, doing too many things at once, not really listening, nervous or worried about the outcome, not focused, etc.

Sometimes we just say no out of habit. We don't even consider what our child is asking, we just say it sometimes. This doesn't make us bad mothers. It means we're just busy and sometimes doing this mothering thing on autopilot because we're doing the best we can. 

I wasn't sure what to think of this concept at first. I admit I got defensive reading it. Of course I say yes all the time! I don't say no all day long for no reason. Whatev, lady. What does she know?

Well, she knows a lot.

Try it. One day, that's it. One hour even. You'll start to see that you, too, say no sometimes. You, too, are a quick no mom sometimes. I feel like I am a very engaged, energetic, playing all the time on the floor with them type of mom. And yet, I said no often like this mom said.

It's again, not because we're mean or heartless. It's because we're busy and tired and a zillion other things are going on. It's normal.

I witnessed a no-mom scenario while walking by a girl at Sesame Place last month. This little girl, probably 3-4 years old, wanted to walk on the edge of the sidewalk like a balance beam. The mom said no, sternly, get down, etc. The child jumped down, sulking, head down, disappointed.

I thought two things: 1) That could easily be something I'd do, most moms could do. 2) Why?! That child was happily playing and learning. What was the mom worried about? That she'd sprain her ankle? Fall on her face? Skin her knee? Or was it the 10th time she'd spoken to the girl that day and she was just tired from saying yes earlier that day? It could be all of the above, who knows. I just know we ALL do these things in our daily interactions with our kids.

It's normal, but it doesn't have to be that way. That's what I've learned the last two months of trying to become a YES mom. I've been observing myself, stopping and having more patience. If we really sit and look at our kids' eyes, notice what's important to them, and take a minute to stop and smell the roses, so to speak, we'll realize that sometimes we don't need to be running at the speed of light, from this to the next thing every day.

We can be more present. More in tune with what our kids need from us. More creative, more fun, more relaxed even.

It starts with taking a breath.

Stop. Even for a second. Look around, check your child's face, and really see what they are asking for, what they need, what they are curious about. And then take another breath. Decide what's the worst thing that'll happen if you say yes, if you allow them to do what it is they think is the awesome thing to do at this second - instead of say no?

Imagine the possibility if you say yes. You could make their day, encourage creativity, allow them to express an emotion, use teamwork, and problem solving.

I tried being a yes mom. I stopped, took a breath, and decided instead of impulsively saying no, we're too busy, not right now, or later, I would say what they were hoping I would, sure, go ahead, no problem, YES.

Recently my son wanted to trace my hand with black marker during his art time. I didn't want black marker on my hand all day. I wanted to say, "no, not right now, Bud, how about using colored pencil?"  But he looked at me with this grin on his face, like it was SO cool to trace your hand in this specific black marker, no silly wimpy colored pencil. So I said YES. His smile was priceless.

The other day at the beach my son asked me to jump into his sand pile with him. "Come on, Mom, it's so fun in here!" I really didn't want to. I was in the middle of talking with a friend who I never get to talk with.  But I stopped, paused, looked at him, when I saw his excitement and decided to do it anyway. I said YES! It was maybe two minutes and made him SO happy. I jumped, kicking sand all over myself, totally losing track of my conversation with my friend. But my son was happy. Why not say yes?

They wanted to see the tree truck. They wanted to chase it and really see it. I said it went down the street, we can't see it. It's gone. My kids both looked so disappointed. Like it was a toy in a toy store they wanted but could not have. So I decided to pause and think this one through for a second.

Next thing I know, we're packing up the John Deere tractor toy and my son is driving his sister to the end of the road, I've got a lawn chair and we're sitting in the middle of our street, staring at a tree truck up the road cutting down trees. They thought it was the coolest thing ever. And all that I did was say YES.

Earlier tonight my daughter dumped a basket of play food all over the play room. I held my breath annoyed, it was the 5th time I'd picked it up in the last two days. But I said nothing, which sometimes saying nothing is like saying YES. I then saw her put her doll in it and say "broom broom", pushing the doll around in her car. She was giggling and being creative. Why would I have said no to that?

Of course there are many reasons we say no in a day. Because we're trying to keep them safe. Because we're in a rush to work or clean something or prevent something bad from happening. Again, because we think we're doing the right thing.

Sometimes just because. The whole "Because I said so" method.
And you know, it's OK to say no. It is. I'm not trying to add to your Mama Guilt AT ALL.

Just trying to say, we get caught up in the moments of being a mother, of raising little humans, of keeping them safe and healthy. Sometimes we don't remember to slow down, to really see what matters.

To me, being a YES mom is all about making my kids happy and me enjoying their childhood a little more, slowing down to really be present and excited about the little things. It's about not sweating the small things, picking battles really, but in a positive way.

So try it, try slowing down this week, really seeing your kids, and saying YES a little more.
Be a YES mom.
It's so much fun, I promise!

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