Our week has come to a close. The babes are sleeping. The house is quiet. For now. During the last week, I yelled on Wednesday and Thursday nights. Thursday was rough. Kids were crazy. No one was listening. I stepped on a Lego ship. Need I say more? Wednesday, there was a fight about homework (really with the math games?! Is there not another way for him to learn less-than, more-than? Whatever happened to the alligator eats the bigger number?!) and it ended with a thrown pencil, crumpled paper and then bed. No one was happy Wednesday night. No one. Overall, I have to say that the week went well (aside from the above-mentioned incidents). This week, I renewed my pledge to a rule I made about seven years ago: Commit to No.
The rule is pretty simple. If you say no, commit. Don’t give in. If you can’t commit (or don’t have the energy and know that you’ll give in,) don’t say no. Here’s the thing: You will actually say yes more. If you Commit to No, you will have to evaluate everything in a different light. Is this really a big deal? Can I really commit to no on this? If the answer to either of these questions is no, say yes.
About a year ago, I read an article in one of those parenting magazines written by a dad. You know, those ones that you read and think, Who the hell is this guy? God, I wish my husband would read this… Are there really dads out there who write this shit? The article started out with the dad read something about what children remember the most from what their parents tell them. The dad decides to ask his son what he hears him say the most. The dad, expecting his son to say I love you or You are smart or Share!, is shocked when his kid says the thing he hears his dear old dad-di-o say the most is No. I re-read this about five time. Why? Because my stomach had a sick ache. I was sure my kids would say the same of me. So sure, in fact, that I never wanted to ask them for fear that they would confirm my worry. I say no all the time.
Why do I say no so much? I have no idea. Because I am lazy: Will you put chocolate in my milk? No. Can I paint? No. Because I am tired: Can you chase us? No. Can we walk to the playground instead of drive? No. And sometimes for no reason. Now Mamas… I read back over the above questions and I am ashamed. But I am being honest. So please judge me quietly… And then look at all the questions you say no to. Maybe you’re perfect and always tell your kids yes. Or maybe you’re like me and say no too much.
Using the Commit to No rule, as I have for the last week, you I can guarantee that you will say yes more. You will be required to do more, run more, deal with bigger messes and make a shit-load more chocolate milk. But, your kids will be happier. And they will do more of the things you ask them to do. And you will yell less. Committing to No will enable you to say yes more. And it’s freeing.
I am definitely more tired at the end of this week. All this saying yes-shit is exhausting. But I didn’t yell nearly as frequently as I was at one point. And my kids are happier. And they did help me more, beg less, stop whining and… oh hell, they are still whining but I think they are whining a little less. I think I am going to Commit to No again next week. I want my kids to remember me saying Yes.