I don't remember where I heard it or read it, but I recall a fantastic tidbit of parenting advice that I rarely follow. It simply says, "Say yes, whenever possible." And so far, so good.
How often do your kids ask you to do something simple, and you say "no" because you can think of some other trivial task you think you need to be doing? Or you just say "no" because it's easier? This happens to me a lot. Obviously it would be nice to have all the laundry folded and put away, and I'd love it if my counter tops were spotless at all times, but it isn't a life or death situation. It doesn't HAVE to be done right now. So when I'm doing one of these dreary jobs and my daughter asks me to braid her hair, or help her with a puzzle or play Wii sports with her, I'm just going to stop what I'm doing and say "yes!". It doesn't always work out and they understand that, but when I can, I'm going to say yes.
It's so simple and it brings the girls so much joy, and I'm recognizing that I just don't do it enough. Twenty minutes ago, Sasha asked me to paint her nails and I just said, "Okay, let's do it!" . This took her completely by surprise. She flat out told me that she was sure I'd say no. She was so happy that I stopped what I was doing and did something kind for her. Lyla wandered over and asked to have her nails painted and of course I said yes. She was thrilled, because I rarely ever paint my three year olds nails. Will the polish look gorgeous tomorrow? No. Will it be a chipped mess for the rest of the week? Yes, but it was free and it made them so happy, so who cares?
I want my kids to grow up to be awesome people, but I also want them to have a great childhood. I hope they feel like they got to savor the joys of being kids instead of be rushed into growing up. So many things that kids love to do are messy and I struggle with that, but I need to get over it! My mom let me dress up in her clothes, play in her make-up and she even let me "pretend" to cook in the kitchen.......with real ingredients. I made huge messes and I'm sure it wasn't fun for her to clean up after me, but the point is that I'm 33 and I vividly remember those fun activities she'd let me do. We didn't have cable, the internet wasn't invented yet and there weren't so many pricey kid-friendly activities available, but I was very entertained. All because she said yes when she could.
Try it for a day!