Since becoming a mother, my go-to response has been ‘no’. No you cannot have more chocolate, no you cannot jump up and down on your brother’s back, no you cannot go out in the rain without your coat…
One day I started thinking, and while the things I have mentioned above are reasonable, in my opinion, to say no to, is everything else I say no to reasonable? Well the answer to that is in fact no.
When the children want to do some painting, colouring, sticking, making, craft, to read one more story, have another book, go to the park, go to the library, bake some cookies…. why was I saying no? Well sometimes it was because I just couldn’t be bothered. Once I realised this, I also realised I was contradicting myself every time I asked them to do something like tidy their toys, and they said they did not want to do it. I would tell them there are some things you just have to do, and yes you have to do it now.
It was my decision to have kids and some things they just want to do and some things have to be done now. They are not always going to want me to do craft with them, or read them stories, or bake or spend time with me in general.
So, when it was a reasonable request, at a reasonable time, I started saying yes. Things like laundry, and cleaning can be done while they are at school or asleep. I need to make the most of them while they are awake. After all if you cannot be bothered with them when they are younger, why should you expect them to bother with you when you are older?
I am not saying that you should do more things with your children in the hope of getting something in return from them when you are older and the tides have turned and you are dependent on them, rather more that it’s a positive thing to create more memories for when they themselves have children and it gives them memories of you.
To quote a saying; ‘presence is worth more to children than presents’. Twenty years down the line children are not going to remember what you bought them for Christmas or their birthday, but they will remember the time we spent after school painting, when paint got everywhere and the youngest was wearing more paint than we got on all the pictures combined. The amazing cookies we made, where mummy did not follow the recipe properly but made the most amazing cookies ever and people who tried them kept asking for more, and luckily we remembered what she did so we have our own recipe. The walk down to town, when we were going to the park but popped into the charity shop and found a game of Junior Monopoly, and we couldn’t wait to play it, so we just walked home and played it as soon as we got back.
Saying ‘yes’ is not giving into your children necessarily, it’s about allowing yourself to have more opportunities to make memories.
I really think we should say yes more, no?
About Sarah Ilott