Why Jennifer Garner encourages families to have a Yes Day

Nathalie Tomada - The Philippine Star
Why Jennifer Garner encourages families to have a Yes Day

MANILA, Philippines — Once a year for almost a decade now, Jennifer Garner has been having a Yes Day with her children and she is encouraging other families to have one, too.

The STAR first learned of the Hollywood star’s annual tradition in a recent virtual interview for her upcoming family-comedy film titled none other than Yes Day. It’s inspired by her own Yes Days over the years, which all started after she encountered the best-selling children’s book of the same title by the late US author Amy Krouse Rosenthal.

Such is her commitment to a Yes Day that even the COVID-19 lockdown of last year didn’t stop the 48-year-old mom of three from holding one. The basic concept of a Yes Day is that parents are not allowed to say no to their children’s requests or “asks” for 24 hours — a practice seen to spice up family life and strengthen bonds.

In Yes Day the film, wherein she’s both star and producer, Jennifer herself got to say “yes” to things she wouldn’t dare do before. Because she’s terrified of roller coasters, she broke character the first time and screamed for real when she rode the Twisted Colossus for a Magic Mountain scene in the film.

In the family comedy Yes Day, Jennifer Garner and Edgar Ramirez are parents who can’t say no to the requests of their children — played by Jenna Ortega, Julian Lerner and Everly Carganilla for 24 hours. The film premieres on Netflix on March 12.
Photos courtesy of Netflix

She also learned to play the ukulele for her performance of The Four Tops’ Baby, I Need Your Loving, and joined Venezuelan co-star Edgar Ramirez (who plays her husband in the film) in consuming the lion’s share of the 40 gallons of sugar-free ice cream used during the three-day shoot of the Gut Buster Challenge scene.

Sounds like she had fun, yes?

The Alias and 13 Going 30 star — there are scenes in the film that will remind you of her most-loved screen roles — was also a very fun interviewee during the roundtable. It was also a Yes Day for journalists to let their hair down, so to speak, bringing snacks and props, and having their children happily “crash” the Zoom call.

Read on.

On the magic of saying yes:

“It feels great when you give in to just saying yes. Everyone should give it a shot, especially with your kids. I think my knee-jerk reaction is so often ‘No.’ I think my baseline is ‘No.’ For me, it’s all so carefully woven together every day with three kids: all their asks, their friends, their activities, and all the things that they’re trying to do. And you just feel like we can’t, we can’t fit more in. But I think having a Yes Day is just a great way to celebrate families. And it isn’t about doing something huge all the time. For my family, it really is about my kids hearing me say from the beginning of the day all the way through, ‘Yes, what do you want to do? Top priority.’ I put my phone down, and I just focus on them.”

On the craziest Yes Day requests she has received from her kids:

“Oh gosh. Well, my own kids, they’re never quite this crazy. They’re much more simple (than in the film). Because we’ve been doing this for about nine years, as they’ve gotten older, our Yes Days are more and more about torturing me (laughs), and less and less about just breaking rules. They actually do my makeup and make me look crazy (like in the film). They do actually make me go out like that.

“And they know that as I’ve gotten a little bit older, I’m more scared of heights than I ever was when I was younger. And so, for example, they made me hold on to this wire at this place, and I was pulled up and up and up full storey high, and then it was a slide that goes straight down and then out and they made me do it. And I was at the top, saying, ‘I don’t want to, guys. Please, I want to come back down,’ and they said, ‘It’s Yes Day mom,’ and so, I had to let go and follow a full storey, and then come out the bottom. Things like that they torture me in their own ways.”

‘There is no better time in the world than right now for kids to hear YES after the year they’ve had. Camp is canceled, school is virtual, no one’s going to soccer practice. What’s more fun than the wish fulfilment of a day filled with YES?’

On encouraging other parents to try out the Yes Day:

“Well, I’m certainly not here to tell parents what to do. I’m more here to say — oh my gosh this is really hard. Being a parent is really hard. It’s hard to be married and to hold on to the joy in a marriage. It’s hard to stay yourself and hold on to your own sense of fun. And it’s hard to have kids and to, you know, keep being the fun, cool mom that they deserve when you’re trying so hard to make everybody get where they need to go with clean teeth and the right homework. And so Yes Day is just a really fun way to suggest, hey, you know you can just let it go for a day and let it be messy and have a good time.”

On what would be on her list of requests had Yes Days existed during her childhood:

“Oh my gosh. It definitely would have been going to the grocery store and buying things like Doritos, Pringles and Froot Loops — I don’t know if you, guys, know those foods but just American junk food — but my mom never let us have any of it so that would be one.

“Buying clothes made by... You know, my mom made our clothes so I didn’t want that, I wanted all the store bought clothes. Going to see a play or a ballet, for sure, would have been on there. Having a party with my friends and fly kites which we did do pretty often, and then a big dinner with my whole family. And actually I would still like the same things. I still want junk food, to go shopping, to have a big dinner, to see a Broadway play, and to have kite flying with like two of my girlfriends.”

On how she pulled off a Yes Day during the COVID-19 lockdown:

“I have been doing this for a long time, and I did do it this last year during the lockdown. I just kind of took it back to what was simple. I did plan a little bit more than I normally would like, guys, I rented a big bounce house waterslide and I put it in the backyard. And that was one of the big things that we did, we went on it two different times. You know, normally at a certain point, at a certain age, you would let your kids play on something like that and you would watch. Or maybe, you would go down once or twice. But I stayed on it the whole time and if they wanted me to go down head first, I did. If they wanted to be on my lap, I let them whatever it was, I just said yes.

“Then we just did what we normally had. We went out for a drive-thru, we ate it on a picnic, we had ice cream and waffles for breakfast. We stayed up late watching TV, and I put it up against the wall with the projector. We just had fun. It worked!”

On the message of Yes Day during this time of pandemic:

“There is no better time in the world than right now for kids to hear YES after the year they’ve had. Camp is canceled, school is virtual, no one’s going to soccer practice. What’s more fun than the wish fulfillment of a day filled with YES? That’s something that I am just so excited we get to be for people and I hope we can inspire them to have their own Yes Days where they can come up with their own new family traditions.”

(Yes Day is launching globally on Netflix this March 12.)



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