A lot of us remember when Jennifer Garner had a ‘Yes Day’ – one day when she said yes to whatever her kids wanted to do (within reason). It’s a great concept which lets the kids feel like they are heard, and helps parents understand their kids.
But a lot of parents probably already feel that most days are Yes Days – or at least, days where they give in to things or activities that their kids want, not out of enjoyment, but because it’s easier. Which is how many families struggle to find a balance between “me time”, “couple time”, and “family time”.
Sydney couple Sophie, 38, and Conrad , 40, were determined to avoid that cycle as much as they could when they had their two girls; three-year-old Ella and newborn Clara.
They’re now part of a new group called ‘Yes Parents’ – where the parents have reclaim their needs and prioritise them equally with the kids. They say yes to plans with friends, and outings they would otherwise be wary about.
Mamamia spoke to Sophie about how Yes Parenting has helped their family:
MM: What made you choose to become Yes Parents?
Sophie: It was given that we wanted to be parents who were social, and for us to be happy. A defining part of our relationship has always been our social life together. We wanted to remain connected to friends and family. And we wanted to try to be spontaneous as much as we could.
But more than that, I find I'm a better parent when I'm happy. I know I'm not doing the kids a favour when I compromise all of my needs to my detriment. I know I've been lucky because both I and my daughters haven't been stopped by health issues, and we can afford to do things like eat out.
But that's not to say that we haven't had tough times - like all parents, there are some days or weeks that are easier than others. What I've found is that Yes Parenting has helped us get through the hard patches faster, because I'm looking after my needs for social interaction and activity, too.
And I also think it's important for the kids to see that we're a family, and we can all enjoy things together.
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MM: What are the things that help you be a Yes Parent?
Sophie: Without a doubt, a supportive family who haven't judged and understand how we parent. Being brave and taking risks, and not being too worried about what people think is definitely a part of it.
And then also, our friends are really inclusive - even the ones without kids. It's great because it means that the kids have an extended network of adults in their lives. It makes us feel less isolated as parents.
I can't forget that mobility is key, too. We basically live out of our pram - it's a Bugaboo Fox and I'm in love with it - so having one that's light, easy to clean, but also tough, has been essential. It makes a huge difference when catching trains - or even just leaving the house.
MM: Were your parents Yes Parents?
Sophie: Definitely not. Our social lives are different to our parents' social lives, but then again, it was a completely different time. People didn't eat out at restaurants weekly the way a lot of us do now. The girls' grandmothers do notice the difference in the way we parent - but they think it's adventurous in a way they never were with young kids.
MM: What's the gutsiest thing you've done as a Yes Parent?
Sophie: We went on our dream holiday to Europe, and we were away for four weeks. Conrad was sceptical, but I thought we should give it a go. It went so well - it was like travelling with a mini celebrity, Ella got so much attention.
MM: What are your Yes Parenting tips?
Sophie: You have to accept it might not be as perfectly comfortable as it would be at home. But you'll feel so much better for it. The key is to give it a go. Sometimes it's a disaster - but we still do it. We don't let that defeat us. And then you find that next time it all goes perfectly.
Would you consider yourself a Yes Parent? Tell us in the comments section below.