The Fun Family Tradition My Toddler Loves: ‘No Days’


Let’s take a little trip down memory lane. You’re a kid, say 10 years old. The weatherman predicted inches upon inches of snowfall overnight, and you went to bed with a level of excitement comparable to Christmas Eve. You wake up, scramble downstairs to turn the TV to the local news, and look for your school’s name on the scrolling list of closings at the bottom of the screen. And there it is, your school’s name. Pure, magical bliss.

At least, that’s how I remember the snow days of my youth. The magic they held was in both their rarity and their unpredictability. What adventures would a snow day bring? What rules would my mom go lax on? Time slowed down on snow days in my house. Structure and routine went out the window. We stayed in PJs until we bundled up to go sledding, we got back in PJs, ate cookies, watched movies, drank hot chocolate, played video games.

As a mom, I want to recreate this magic when my kids are school-age, but for now I’m doing it with a little twist: “No Days.”

No Days are a family tradition we created where anything (within reason) that we would usually say no to on a normal day gets a yes. We have a No Day once every three months or so, and without fail, it delivers a much-needed break from the hustle-bustle that is our daily life (well, pre-social distancing), it forces us to slow down and enjoy the moment, and it brings us closer together.



I don’t have a lot of extra time on my hands to focus on things like “creating magic” for my kids. You’re not going to find me moving an elf around the house at the holidays or baking Pinterest-worthy unicorn cupcakes from scratch on the weekends. I am an unashamed slice-and-bake cookie kind of mom. My mom was too. Maybe that’s why my brother and I still love slice-and-bakes so much–because what matters to kids is the feeling of knowing they’re loved and making memories together, whatever that looks like within their family.

No Days require no planning and no new stuff, and with a toddler who is constantly pushing boundaries as he learns the dos and don’ts of his world, it’s a welcome break for both him and me from the word “no.”

I don’t know about you, but I don’t love saying no to my toddler all the time. In fact, I try to follow the re-framing method of “I want your feet on the floor” instead of “no jumping off the couch.” But regardless of the positive language spin I put on it, the end result for my toddler is the same–he doesn’t get to do the thing he wants to do.


No Days require no planning and no new stuff, and with a toddler who is constantly pushing boundaries as he learns the dos and don’ts of his world, it’s a welcome break for both him and me from the word ‘no.’


And even though my “no”s are always in his best interest, it can be tiring for us both.

Whenever we’re stuck in a cycle of meltdowns and frustration, I can generally count on a solid No Day to recalibrate our vibe. To be clear, a No Day isn’t about spoiling kids rotten or teaching them that they deserve to get whatever they want. It’s not about saying yes to buying new stuff or promising over-the-top things. We’re not aiming to raise an entitled generation here. It’s about finding joy in the little things and breaking away from the everyday routines where we so often rush from one thing to the next without taking time to linger in the moment together.



In a world where life is more fast-paced than ever (again, pre-social distancing) and technology makes it easier than ever to disconnect from the right here right now, I want to teach my kids from a young age to slow down to enjoy life and remember to appreciate the moment.

It’s been a fun way for us to bond and create memories, and my little guy absolutely loves feeling like we’re “breaking the rules” together. His requests have never been completely outrageous, and I’ve actually been surprised by some of the seemingly mundane things he wants to do.

On our most recent No Day, he wanted to:

  • Stay in his PJs all day (side note: we’ve been doing much more of this than usual lately with the current situation)
  • Walk on our treadmill (“It’s not a toy!”)
  • Take a mid-morning bubble bath (generally baths are at night)
  • Have Mickey Mouse pancakes for lunch while sitting in his baby sister’s high chair watching a show on his tablet (which is usually reserved for travel only; also doing much more of this lately)
  • Eat Cheetos and Swedish Fish for dinner (he gets it from his mama; he willingly ate his veggies too)
  • Take a second bubble bath before bed while drinking La Croix (also gets it from his mama)

I love the simplicity of what brought him joy, and I love that he’s learning it now. I’m sure as he gets older, his requests will become more complex, but I hope we can continue using this tradition to spend quality time together, make funny memories, and enjoy the little things in life.

I try–and fail regularly–to model this type of mindful behavior by staying off my phone when we’re spending time together, by talking about what we’re grateful for before bed, by trying to focus on experiences over things. No Days have brought my family the gift of experiences, building memories that I hope one day my kids will look back on with the same fondness and nostalgia I feel for the snow days of my childhood.

P.S.: No Days are for moms too. Diet Coke and pizza before 10am? Yes, please.



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