On Sunday I woke to a strange sound.
I don’t mean literal silence – with two small kids in a tiny home, there’s never such a thing as a morning that isn’t punctuated by screeches and squeals, clatters and bangs.
But silence inside my head, where usually the relentless spool of my internal to-do list would be punching out the day’s priorities.
On a typical weekend day, that might be something like this: Swimming lessons. Shopping. Seven-year-old birthday party. Lunch. Five-year-old birthday party. Early tea with in-laws. Gymnastics. Bath. Books. Bed. Collapse.
Not last Sunday. It was one of those magical days where there was nothing that must be done. School holidays meant all organised activities were off. Miraculously, no school friends were born in the previous seven days. In-laws are away. Shopping went to late-night Thursday. That’s right, people: NO PLANS.
The peace didn’t last. What lasted was my resolve not to cram a blissful day with “shoulds” – I should clean the house. I should take M to buy those new school shoes. I should fill the freezer with a week full of meals. I should go for a run…
So, the cry went up: “Kids. We’re having a YES day!”
The actress Ellen Barkin calls them "should-less days" - days when you absolve yourself of all mundane responsibility.
That other actress, Jennifer Garner, who has three small children and is currently a single mum, calls the parental version a 'Yes' day. A day when you just decide to say YES to everything that the small people ask of you.
It starts easy. "Can we make pancakes for breakfast?"
No brainer. Not hard to agree to. I love pancakes. What am I, a monster?
But after that, the day requests got trickier - "The park!" "The dinosaur museum!" "Skyjump!"
I shouldn't have been surprised. 'The dinosaur museum' is pretty much Billy's destination of choice every time we leave the house. It breaks his heart that more often than not, the destination is just Woolies.
We settled on the Museum and the Botanic Gardens, where the kids love to spot eels and sleeping bats and I love to be reminded of why Sydney is worth the exorbitant prices of avocado on toast and wine.
The excitement in the car was palpable. Not least because we've made the kids a special playlist for the car, imaginatively titled Kids In The Car. It plays to both of the kids' preferences - songs about monsters and Taylor Swift.
"Can we get an ice cream?"
"Can we get dumplings?"
"Can we take a dinosaur home with us in the boot?"
Well, it was YES day.
When my kids talk about the dinosaur museum, they mean the Australian Museum. It's in the middle of Sydney and beyond the dinosaur skeletons that Billy and every other boy under nine is here for, it has a great natural history section where you can see just how tall a grizzly bear is (clue: tall) and a great kids' interactive area where they are as happy to spend as much time as in the actual exhibits.
But they do love going to the interactive exhibit where they can tweezer their way through a tray of stick insect poo, looking for eggs, and then look at their fingers under the incredible powerful microscopes. I spend a fair amount of time doing that, too.
Then it was on to dumplings and ice-creams and back in the car ("Ask Siri for Ed Sheeran!") for the short drive to the Botanic Gardens.
It's always in transit that the kids will bring up the big issues in life. Today, it was Billy categorically telling me, "Mum. Farts don't make sense."
There are few more beautiful moments in life than watching your kids frolic (yes, frolic) on the grass in front of the world's most beautiful harbour, and saying to yourself 'this is our home'.
But it was not my day to choose, it was the kids'. And choose they did. We went on an eel hunt, we rode the tiny train, we ran up the Opera House steps (I use the term 'run' loosely there, when it comes to myself). We found flowers in every colour. We didn't once fall into a deep stare on a screen instead we took in the beautiful outdoors and stayed present in the moment. I only had to break up 45 fights as we moved around the gardens. It was really, a perfect afternoon. And they don't come along often.
They get extra points for choosing activities that rip them away from their screens and plunge them into the great, big, exciting outside world. The real world.
"We should totally do this more often," I said to my partner as we drove home with kids so tired out they were snoring in the back seats.
"Stop it," he said. "There's no should here."
This content was created with thanks to our brand partner Ford.
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