Be a Yes Mom

In the event that you hadn’t noticed, I have a typical first born personality. I tend to like things ordered and tidy, I like a plan and like things to go according to that plan. I do not enjoy messes or chaos and because of these tendencies I tend to not be a very fun or spontaneous mommy.  Honestly, it boils down to me being selfish when the children make requests, I say no because I don’t want to deal with a change of plan or the  hassle of cleaning up.  The good news is that I know this about myself and can work on becoming a “yes mom”.

I have a rule for myself that helps me to say yes more often. When the children make a request I stop and ask myself these two questions; “Is there a real reason to say no (dangerous, destructive)?” and/or  “Are they supposed to be doing something else (chores, schoolwork)?”  If the answer to both of these questions is no, then I smile and say, “yes”.

This rule has led to a lot of super fun memories and my kids actually think that I am a fun mommy (sometimes). The children have created an indoor snow storm (complete with snow angels) with Styrofoam, they dance outside in the rain, eat ice cream for breakfast, sleep on the floor, ‘wade’ (up to the tops of their heads) in our very muddy creek

catch and keep all sorts of critters, and use mud as make up (only did mud make-up once, did you know that mud can be quite irritating when rubbed into facial skin and left to harden?).

We require hard work from our children and this focus on giving them the opportunity to experiment and the freedom to try new things is a good balance.  We still have limits and rules. The children are required to pick up whatever mess they create if possible and they have to get permission rather than just doing things without our knowledge, but hopefully they will not feel oppressed by their sometimes, OK often controlling mother.

So are you a fun mom or do you struggle as I do?  How do you strive for a balance of responsibility and allowing kids to be kids?  What are some of your favorite “crazy kid” memories?

You may be interested in our children’s chore assignments, how we train our children to do chores or the fun competition we use to encourage the children to keep their rooms tidy.

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44 Responses to Be a Yes Mom
  1. bunny
    May 12, 2010 | 9:17 am

    I don’t think I was a fun Mom, but their Dad definitely was. I had to learn to back off and just let them play.


  2. Twin mama Chris
    May 12, 2010 | 9:31 am

    Thanks Kimberly! I really needed this today as I can really relate with the first child/planned and organized mentality. When my kids ask to say, get out the play doh, my mind skips to the mess at the end and say so I say NO. I will strive harder to say YES and let them have the responsibility to clean up at the end. I loved the link to your notes on chores…I need to circle back when I have more time and study that a little more.


  3. Shannon
    May 12, 2010 | 9:42 am

    Oh, your post is making me cringe! I just stopped my kids from making a styrofoam snowstorm yesterday, lol. I struggle all the time with being a yes-mom.

    I’m a firstborn also. 😉


    Suzanne Reply:

    I cringe at the snow storm — my brother in law had 1/2 his lung removed at a young age for inhaling one of those little styrofoam pieces that are in bean bag chairs, and it getting infected…BUT I do commend your spontaneity.

    My mom was a first born as was my sister-in-law’s mom and neither of us ever got to play with ply-dough, or mud, or paint. To even drop a single piece of food on our clothes got you in serious trouble. So I fight trying not to be like this, but since I am a middle child, and a bit of a free spirit, I TRY to let them do more than I got to.

    One of the best things I have adopted for letting the kids make a mess of themselves is that they have an extra dresser that they share of just “play-clothes” (cute clothes that are too stained or short to take them to Wal-mart in, but at a glance no one will laugh at them too hard). If they ask to do something that I normally would not allow, I can stall for time by telling them they will have to change into their play-clothes.

    It also helps to know that if something terrible happens to a good outfit — all is not lost it will just now have to be play-clothes. That is how most of these became play clothes, that and anything they received from other people that is just not the style I would put them in. They spend most of the summer in these clothes, and I just dress them nice when we know we are going somewhere.


  4. Holly
    May 12, 2010 | 9:46 am

    I REALLY struggle in this area. I hate to see that expectant look on my kid’s faces just knowing I’ll say no, but hoping I’ll say yes. I like the two questions. I have to try and work on this more, maybe the questions will help. I also just recently linked this blog post from Holy Experience to my facebook over this very same topic:

    Thanks for the reminder to be a “yes” Mom 🙂


  5. Jama
    May 12, 2010 | 9:58 am

    I could have written your first paragraph. I am not a fun mom because of my own selfishness. I sometimes wonder if my kids will have any fun memories of their childhood. I had to make myself let my 4 year old paint the other day. My only reason for not wanting to do it were because I didn’t want to supervise it or deal with any mess. This is an area I’m working on though. Thanks for sharing the questions you ask yourself. I think they will help me.


  6. Ruth Adams
    May 12, 2010 | 10:30 am

    I love the pictures! The kids will look back with such great memories. I say, “No” far too often. This post is a good reminder to allow those fun times children will not forget.


  7. MomStarr
    May 12, 2010 | 10:59 am

    I definitely struggle with being a NO mom for the same reasons; messes and too busy to supervise. I did just have baby number 8 and feel wwwwaaaayyyy behind on so many things that I need to try harder to say yes these days. I do enjoy seeing them have fun and so that encourages the YES mom to come out and show her face.


  8. Chick Hatchers
    May 12, 2010 | 11:44 am

    I am still struggling with this one. Looking at the kids in the creek – how do you deal with clothes getting ruined? I know they are just material things, but one thing I am trying to teach my kids is to take care of what God gives us to use. That’s it’s God’s. I really struggle with this one. Any suggestions? I’d really love to let this one go or learn how to better balance it because it really is NOT fun. Not for me or the kids.


    Stephanie Reply:

    At our house each person had a “messy outfit” and that is what is worn during messy/dirty activities. It is holey, stained or whatever already so I do not care if paint/mud/frogs get all over it.
    If the kids do not have one when they go to the next size, I will go to Goodwill and spend a few bucks to get a messy outfit that fits.
    The only child who is old enough to dress himself is my stepson and he knows that we take care of what we are lucky enough to have. He is a good kid but was lazy one day and did not change out of his school clothes before painting once this year and ruined his shirt and pants. He is nearly nine and knows our rules so I took him and his allowance to the store and he replaced his outfit. He was less than thrilled but he takes better care of what he has and will put on his messy clothes when he is doing something messy without a fuss.
    I hope this idea may help you- having a grungy outfit available makes it so much easier for me to say yes without stress.


    Leigh Reply:

    One of our grandaughters has a “spaghetti shirt”! Course its only for home!


    Kimberly @ Raising Olives Reply:

    We also have what we call ‘backyard outfits’, so that they can have fun and not worry about getting their clothes messy. True that not everyone in the photo is in their backyard outfit, but none of those clothes were ruined, all the dirt came out. 🙂

    There is an interesting balance between being a good steward and allowing kids to be kids. We do not give them permission to do things that are simply destructive, but we do try to allow a framework for messy activities. (play-doh out on the deck, save old electronics for them to take apart, permanent paints with a paint shirt on and over the hardwood floor rather than the carpet, etc.)


  9. Barbara
    May 12, 2010 | 12:01 pm

    The kids playing in the muddy creek? Check. Play Doh? Check. Painting faces and putting on plays? Check. That Styrofoam snow storm???? It sends me into fits, and it’s not even my house. I literally lost my breath on that one. I’ll consider myself sort of fun. Kinda. Oh, maybe I should work on that one. I gotta go, some chores need to be done somewhere.


    Kimberly @ Raising Olives Reply:

    Mark says that I get permanent ‘good mom’ status for the styrofoam snow storm.

    When are the kids going to do that again? When the kids that were too little to remember are old enough to want to do it. 😉


  10. Allyson
    May 12, 2010 | 1:09 pm

    Oh, wow! Thanks for posting this! It’s like a page from my journal–I struggle with the same thing for the same reasons!


  11. Melanie
    May 12, 2010 | 1:11 pm

    I too struggle with this issue. I think I could write book here–but I won’t! It’s hard to say yes to more messes when I often feel like I spend my whole day cleaning up after messes anyway. Of course my oldest is not yet four, so we’re still in the learning stages of cleaning up after self.


  12. Jelli
    May 12, 2010 | 1:30 pm

    I like this philosophy. While I still do not have children, I fear that I will be too concerned with mess and organization to really let my kids enjoy being kids. Hopefully I’ll remember what you’ve written, and I know my very playful husband will definitely help (and hopefully clean up the messes too 🙂


  13. Kelli
    May 12, 2010 | 1:40 pm

    I loved this post Kim. You’ve given me some great ideas! I really needed to hear this-I have that same first born personality 🙂


  14. Kimarie
    May 12, 2010 | 2:29 pm

    Excellent, and exactly! I am a firstborn as well, from a family with 2 children, and now I have 9!!! While I think I’m being laid-back, I often say “no” to soooo many things. In fact, I know things are bad if one of my children comes to me and says, “I know you’ll probably say no, but…” (Now, I have to admit, many of those requests ARE during their chore time – I think I should try to say “no – but come to me after you’re done and ask again.”)

    THANK YOU for sharing those 2 succinct questions to help you check yourself – they’re easy to remember! (Reminds me of what I often tell the children to ask themselves before they touch something: Is it yours? Did you ask?) Simple!

    In fact, you know what – the next time it rains and it isn’t lightning outside, I am going to let the children go puddle diving and drainspout dunking – they still talk about that from about 5 years ago…with longing… 🙂


  15. Sheri Fontes
    May 12, 2010 | 2:32 pm

    I think I am a fun mom (of six boys) but I absolutly cannot stand styrofoam in my house! It is officially outlawed and removed from the premises immediatly when it arrives at my house. Your picture made me squirm in my seat! 🙂

    we have had “mud brothers” in the bakyard and turned the yard into two lakes and a river along with uneathing an ant hole in search of the Queen all of which did not sit well with the hubby.



    Kimberly @ Raising Olives Reply:

    You do sound like a fun mom. Our adventures are tempered by our girls. God knew what he was doing when He gave us 6 girls and only 4 boys. 😉


  16. jerilyn
    May 12, 2010 | 2:39 pm

    just found your blog- I’m now an email subscriber and holding myself back from letting the kiddos watch a movie for the rest of the day while I read every post you’ve ever written. 😉

    I’ve been convicted on this not just with my children, but also with my husband. I’m learning (albeit slowly) to throw (almost all) caution to the wind and HAVE FUN!

    Thanks for the encouragement, ideas, and good boundary rules.

    I will be here often. 🙂


    Kimberly @ Raising Olives Reply:

    Great point about saying ‘yes’ to our husbands!


  17. Jamie
    May 12, 2010 | 5:01 pm

    LOL!!! Seriously, funny :). I am a middle child and am quite fun, apparently. EXCEPT when it comes to mud and bugs. My dear husband has to take care of those or I go crazy. The styrofoam??? We’ve done that!!! Everytime we get something that comes with styrofoam like that, I let the kids have a snowstorm. Easy to clean up, and they’re happy! The only thing I freak out about now are permanent markers. But, washable paints, finger paints, play-doh (especially when we make it ourselves), styrofoam… I’m good to go. I should also point out that I’m not the neatest person on the planet. That’s the part I have to work on!


  18. Melissa
    May 12, 2010 | 5:01 pm

    Love the fun family photos. Dumb questions………..
    How do I link back from my blog when I joined your link up? I am happy to put trackback links but how do I do this? Thanks


    Kimberly @ Raising Olives Reply:

    Just include a link somewhere in your post to the specific post that you are linking up with. (Just like you linked to The Savings Queen in your May 6th post.)

    Does that answer your question?


  19. Jennifer
    May 12, 2010 | 5:20 pm

    You just described me, another first-born! Oy, this is something I need to learn as well, especially with three boys. Love those questions, I’m going to have to start asking them.


  20. Kim B.
    May 12, 2010 | 6:15 pm

    So glad to hear that I’m not the only Mom who says No a bit too often,and I’m not even the first born! Definitely something I need to work on, a lot!


  21. Annie Harbert
    May 12, 2010 | 9:45 pm

    I struggle to be a fun mom because I was not raised in a good home. My father was verbally, mentally, emotionally, and physically abusive and my mom tried to appease my dad at every waking moment so as not to anger him. We were not allowed to do alot of regular, normal, everyday things children do. With that said I struggle and have often times not allowed my children to be children. I hate admitting that but it’s true. Thankfully God is a gracious and merciful God and I have, with His help, been learning to let go of my past and not put that upon my children. I don’t want to leave a legacy for my children that wasn’t full of wonderful memories simply because I wasn’t able to get past my own issues in childhood.
    I thought the two questions you asked yourself were interesting. I will have to adopt them and ask myself those questions when my children want to do something. Often times I say no simply because I don’t want to deal with the messes. I really need to work on that.


  22. Kim
    May 12, 2010 | 10:07 pm

    This is a great post! My kids are very young and sometimes I feel like all I say is no. But then sometimes I just let go and enjoy them. Like tonight, when my toddler thought it would be funny to say “shampoop” and I just laughed with him for about five minutes while he said it over and over and over. It definitely feels good to say yes!


  23. Stephanie
    May 13, 2010 | 7:09 am

    Ooh, the Styrofoam picture made me cringe 🙂 I often struggle with allowing my kids to make messes, but have come a long way in just rolling with it!


  24. darcie
    May 13, 2010 | 2:31 pm

    I try to be the fun mom – I always tell myself – there are bigger battles to fight – so why get so uptight over _______ ?
    Mostly it works – but, there are days where I find myself not as fun as I hope to be!


  25. Sugar Mommy
    May 13, 2010 | 10:50 pm

    “I tend to like things ordered and tidy, I like a plan and like things to go according to that plan. I do not enjoy messes or chaos and because of these tendencies I tend to not be a very fun or spontaneous mommy. Honestly, it boils down to me being selfish when the children make requests, I say no because I don’t want to deal with a change of plan or the hassle of cleaning up.”

    That paragraph describes me to a ‘T’! I have been feeling convicted of this trait for a while (my oldest is 7 so about 4 years, when he started asking to do stuff like you mentioned), but I haven’t really had any ideas about how to pull myself out of it.

    I do plan fun, out of the ordinary things to do with them…we are definitely making special memories, but it’s all PLANNED and there are no major messes involved (ie, no styrofoam snowstorms).

    Thanks for this great reminder and the ‘how to’, as well.


  26. Amy
    May 14, 2010 | 11:57 am

    Thank you for posting this. I tend to struggle in this area as well and have often wanted to work on it but didn’t have any idea how to overcome my need for everything to be clean, predictable, and manageable. I have appreciated your “filter” questions before deciding “no” and have been able to use this over the past few days. Thank you, thank you, thank you!


  27. Stephanie
    May 18, 2010 | 1:43 pm

    Thanks to this post, it reminded to say Yes! to this: check it out!

    Thanks for reminding me to start saying Yes! more often. This was a great post!


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  29. Heather@It's Twinsanity
    May 24, 2010 | 10:05 am

    I love this post!


  30. HOPE
    June 1, 2010 | 11:53 pm

    great memories u and ur family will always have.


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  32. Jessica
    September 24, 2010 | 12:35 pm

    This is definitely my #1 struggle at home. I know the stop and think questions… it’s just a matter of doing them before I open my mouth. Thanks for the reminder!


  33. Amy
    September 27, 2010 | 12:15 pm

    Wow, you’ve inspired me to let my kids be kids more often (when I have kids that is!)

    I’m still a single gal but I enjoy reading about your family very much and one day I hope to raise a quiver full myself. 🙂

    I remember all too well my parents saying, “No” to a lot of things simply because they didn’t want to deal with the mess.. perhapse if we’d been more responsible as kids we would have been allowed to do more things. I’m going to try my best to be a “Yes” mom more often as long as things aren’t being destroyed and the kids are willing to clean up after. 🙂


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  35. Nicole
    June 6, 2011 | 8:05 am

    I actually did a post on this on my blog, too.

    I am also a 1st born and have the same tendencies you have. It is so nice to know that I’m not alone in my ‘issues’. I am striving to just let my children be little, and in some ways I’m good. It’s in the ‘dirty’ ways that I have problems. Or ways that inconvenience me (like the stores). I am consciously trying to change and am getting better, but it’s hard work. Thank you for sharing your struggle/improvements….it’s an encouragement to know that we CAN be better moms!

    (Thanks for the follow…I’m now following you also and can’t wait to read more about you and your family!)


  36. Dawn
    June 7, 2011 | 12:03 pm

    I just followed a link to this post and am so blessed to have read it. I am encouraged to be better about these things in my life as Mama to 2 little ones. Thank you.


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