Why didn’t I just say ‘yes’? By Becci Nicholls

Sometimes we get into such a routine of saying ‘no’ to our children,  not out of being a bad parent but just because we condition ourselves into having this response.

D1: “Can I tip this tub of trains out Mummy?”
Me: “No, it’s too messy, you don’t need to!”

I say no because it’s convenient for me. Surely he can play without tipping them all out, and I guarantee I’ll be the one putting them all back into the tub later. D1 looks sad.

Why didn’t I just say yes? A tipped out tub of trains wouldn’t be that messy, he probably just wanted to see which ones he’d got, and he would have probably helped me pick them up.

D1: “Mummy can we play outside in the rain? ”
Me: “No it’s too wet, and you’ll get filthy!”

I say no because it’s more convenient for me. I don’t want to stand in the rain. I’ll have to wash wellies and dry coats, and even iron fresh clothes. D1 looks sad.

Why didn’t I just say yes? Puddle jumping is fun. Dirt washes away. We have plenty of fresh clothes to put on. Fresh air is good for them and gets rids of their excess energy.

D2: “I play playdoh a bit!”
Me: “No we’ll play with it later I’ve just swept the floor!”

I say no because I’ve cleaned the house and want it to stay tidy. Playdoh is so messy. Plus they’ve just had a bath and don’t need playdoh stuck in their fingernails. D2 cries.

Why didn’t I just say yes? Who cares if I have to sweep again? Will it hurt me?! No! Who cares if they need rebathing? They love the water anyway. They love creating playdoh models, why don’t I use the time to interact with them?

It’s so easy to say ‘no’ without thinking things through. Children are not an inconvenience.

Do you want to create a tidy house with neatly stacked toys or do you want to create memories to cherish forever?

All the above are actually real examples, but I learnt a long time again to say yes whenever I can. Life is too short to be anything less than fun. An untidy house doesn’t matter, but your children do. A simple yes will make their day. Try it out!

My boys love making my garden look a mess. Onlookers would see sand covering every concrete surface, chalk drawings on the floor, fences, and sheds, an upturned police car, water soaked toys, an empty sand pit, and a slide covered in wet sand. My kids see an adventure land / beach. They’ve carefully spilt the sand. They’ve drawn sharks in chalk. They’ve tipped their police car upside down to fix it with their invisible tools. They’ve played. They’ve unreservedly played, and that’s what rears happy children. Fearless children.

Sand can be swept up. Chalk can be washed away. Toys can dry out. Cars can be put the right way up. But children’s memories cannot be faked; they’re either good or not good.

Last week I filled our garden path with shaving foam and hid lots of dinosaurs in the ‘snow’. It was messy from the start. It got even messier when they figured out clapping your hands in the foam created a mini blizzard! I could have easily not bothered, or said no to the clapping but they had so much fun! They even spoke about it the next day! And the worst that happened? We all had to get changed.

Does your babba want three bedtime stories? Why not! Who’s counting anyway? One day they’ll be too big to have a bedtime story so don’t ever refuse them now.

Obviously this post is about saying yes more often in regards to fun and play, it’s not about saying yes to everything else. Children need healthy boundaries, but they also need a safe environment to be children. Let your babbas be free to play.

Try having a day of ‘yes’, let them have fun, messy fun. You’ll enjoy it too and feel much more relaxed!


Becci Nicholls is a married, thirty year old SAH Momma to two beautiful little rascals. Becci lives in the UK and writes a great blog that explores the highs and lows of raising her little rascals – visit her at Swords and snoodles

child playchildren's imaginationcreative playimaginary playmessy playmother stress
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  • Lucy

    Not only is messy play fun but also an important part in your child’s development; think of the sensory experiences messy play offers , especially if you go down the edible messy play route, with for example jelly, Angel Delight , yoghurt. Pop some toy figures in and encourage your child to try and find them!

  • Kate

    i have 3, twins plus one in 27 months. I notice I say no more than I want to. I have been thinking about the yes/no boundaries thing a lot lately. And find the main reason I say no is I am beyond exhausted. The accumulation of more laundry, more mess feels like a mountain to climb. I hate to think I am sacrificing memories and joy and being a grumpy mama. I would be such a different mom if I had any energy!

    • Bec

      I hear you mama! I think you need to be kind to yourself too. It’s okay if you just can’t bare the mess today…give yourself permission to say ‘no’ when you need to and you may be up to saying ‘yes’ tomorrow…or the next day. You’ll get there!