Could You Go 24 Hours Without Saying No To Your Kids?

Gymboree Sale On Now!

How many times do you think you say NO to your kids every day?

Five times? Twenty times? A hundred times?

I bet if I kept track, it would be in the triple digits. Easily.

Sometimes I say no to them before they can even finish a complete sentence.

I’ve been thinking about this a lot.

Because Number 6 is giving me a serious run for my money lately.

He’s super defiant, and I find myself embroiled in power struggles with him way more often than I’d like to be.

I’ve been trying to pinpoint the source of the issues I’ve been having with him. I believe there are a few main reasons he’s such a challenge right now.

And one of them isn’t that he’s being a tool.

It’s the way I’m talking to him.

I tried to be very conscious of this yesterday. I paid attention to our interactions.

Mommy, can I ride in the car without a booster seat?


Mommy, can I have some orange juice?


Mommy, can I have two granola bars?


Mommy, can I play on the iPad?


Mommy, can I stay home instead of going to the Y?


Mommy, can I have one of those juice boxes?


Mommy, can I –



These are just a few of the times I said no to Number 6 yesterday.

Forget about all the rest of my kids.

Between all of them, I very, very easily say no hundreds of times a day.

So when I ask my kids to do something, or, more accurately, when I tell them to do something and they automatically say no, why am I surprised?

I mean, it only takes one time for you to let a shit! or a fuck! slip out for your kids to memorize that word and use it at every embarrassing and inopportune time possible.

So what are we to expect when they hear us saying no hundreds of times a day?

I have become what Positive Discipline would refer to as a no monster.

I am no-ing my kids to death.

And that immediately builds the foundation for a power struggle. And power struggles are exhausting and infuriating.

Obviously we can’t say yes to every single question our kids ask.  We need to set limits and boundaries.

But how can that be done without saying no?

Well, I am going to focus on the following three things:

First, I’m going to do my best to stop with the demands. 

I’m getting better at this.

What do you need to do to be ready to get on the bus? has been MUCH more effective for me than progressing from:

Go get your shoes.


I said go get your shoes!


Didn’t I just ask you to get your shoes?


Why are your shoes still not on?



Next, I’m going to try really, REALLY hard to ask questions that can’t be answered with yes or no. Those just invite the power struggles.

Instead of Can you help me bring something in from the car?

I’m going to try something more along the lines of What do you want to carry inside? Your swim bag or a bag of groceries?

That gives Number 6 a choice so he has some control and it also gives hime an opportunity to make decisions.

Finally, I’m giving myself this challenge. I’m going to try not to say no for a whole day.

Yep. For a whole day.

I will find a way to either give him choices, or to say yes.

Before you lose your shit about the saying yes thing, hold on.

First, as far as the choices go, instead of saying “Get ready to go to practice” I’m going to try:

“It’s time to get ready to leave. What do you want to do first? Pack your swim bag or eat your snack?”

When it’s time to get out of the car, (one of the things that drives me f&%$ing insane because he takes like five million years to get out) rather than barking, “Hurry up and get out of the car!!!!”

I’m going to try, “How many seconds do you think it’s going to take you to get from the car to the front door?”

We’ll see if we can make it fun instead of turning it into a battle.

Now back to that saying yes thing. I don’t mean I’m just going to give up and let the kids do whatever the hell they want.

When I tell Number 6 it’s time to get ready for bed and he says,  “NO! I DON’T WANT TO GO TO BED!”

I’m going to try “Yes, I can understand you want to stay up, but it’s time for bed! Now what do you want to do first? Brush your teeth or put your pajamas on?”

That’s a whole lot different than saying, “GO UPSTAIRS AND GO TO BED.”

If your kids are giving you a hard time in the defiance department, take a look at how you are talking to them.

How many times do you say no to them every day? It might be more than you think!  You might be unknowingly inviting the responses and behavior.

If you find you are in the same boat as me, maybe you can take the just say no to saying no challenge with me.

Think you can make it through a whole day without saying no?

I don’t know if I can, but for my sake and Number 6’s sake, I’m sure gonna try.



Gymboree Sale On Now!


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Because it’s Sunday, dammit.

A couple weeks ago I declared that this upcoming school year was going to be the Year of No.

A couple years ago I declared that I was going to stop working on Sundays and make sure I spent time recharging and connecting with my family.

That Sunday thing kind of fell by the wayside.

But I’m on vacation, dammit.

So today, I’m remembering the things I’ve promised myself, and I’m saying no to writing a new post.

I’m also saying NO to giving a crap about what my hair looks like while I’m down here.


But I’m saying yes to time with the kids.

Off to the beach!


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The Year of No

In a little more than a month, for the first time in eleven years, all the kids will be in school five days a week.

It is a moment I have been both dreading and looking forward to for quite some time now.

For the last four thousand days, for every waking hour of the day, my schedule and my entire life has revolved around anywhere between one and seven children’s wants and needs.

But in thirty-nine days, all of that is going to change.

At least for a little bit.

I already have a part-time job in the afternoons. I’m working at least twenty hours a week coaching. So part of my day is  already spoken for.

But between the hours of 8:30 and 3:30, (except on Mondays when Number 7 has a short day at kindergarten) there will be no interruptions.

There will be no more preschool drop offs in the middle of the day, and there will be no more kids at home during the day.

Every day I will have seven hours of freedom and flexibility.

Seven hours of freedom!

And so you know what I’ve already started doing?

I’ve already started filling those seven hours with a whole list of things to do.

I’ll volunteer in all the kids classrooms.

I’l be the room mom for at least one of them.

I’ll join the PTO and a couple of other committees.

I’ll direct a few fundraisers and I’ll start training for another marathon.

Because every second of my day should be full.

I mean, my husband is at his job all day.

If I don’t have kids at home anymore but I’m also not working at a job all day then I should at least fill every hour of every day with stuff to do to “make things even.”


Then I pulled my head out of my ass.

What the fuck is wrong with me?

I am not doing any of those things.

I am not going to be a room mom.

I am not going to head any committees. I am not going to volunteer in multiple classrooms.

I have worked my ass off the past  eleven years.

I have juggled and multitasked. I have made thousands of meals one-handed or with children hanging all over me.

I have taken hundreds of shits and showers in front of an audience.

I have kept things running (fairly) smoothly while being groped and grabbed and climbed on and while listening to a soundtrack of whining, crying, screaming, yelling and fighting on a constant loop.

I have navigated the grocery store with a cart full of kids who are grabbing shit they aren’t allowed to eat and throwing the world’s biggest fit when I tell them they can’t have it while being given the stink eye by a bunch of cranky old women who have apparently forgotten what it was like to be a mother to young children.

And goddammit, I am not going to move from one craziness directly into another one.


I have paid my fucking dues.

For parents, and moms in particular, the calendar year really begins in September.

And for me, as we are approaching a new year, this is going to be The Year of NO.

I am saying no to everything that isn’t currently in my life and that isn’t absolutely necessary.

I am decluttering my life, my brain, my to do list and my schedule.

I am taking on nothing new.


No committees. No projects. No extras.

It’s time to decompress and simplify.

I am going to give myself a break.

I am going to exhale. Then inhale. And then repeat.

I am going to reset the clock.

I am going to give attention to the areas of my life that have been neglected for the past eleven years.

I am going to carry on a civilized phone conversation without being interrupted.

I am going to vacuum my house and then just sit in it knowing that nobody is going to come and dump a bunch of fireplace ashes or chuck a bucket full of microscopic beads everywhere or scalp a couple of Barbies and scatter their hair all over the rug for at least six hours.

I am going to plan and prepare meals without breaking a sweat and without another human being physically attached to me.

I am going to allow myself a reasonable amount of time to get things done rather than running around from place to place and task to task like a complete and total lunatic.

I am going to eat meals that require utensils while I am seated at a table rather than in the car behind the steering wheel.

I’m going to give myself some time off.

Time off from being unnecessarily overscheduled and overextended.

Time to figure out what things are really important.

Giving myself this gift of time will allow me to give my family a gift.

The gift of a less stressed, more rested and more available mother and wife.

There will be time to volunteer.  There will be time to take on new things.

But not this year.

Because this year the only thing I’m saying yes to is saying no.


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