About the Author

Now graduated from her role as a homeschooling mom of 8, Dawn Camp devotes her time and love of stories to writing her first novel. She enjoys movie nights, cups of Earl Grey, and cheering on the Braves. She and her husband navigate an ever-emptying nest in the Atlanta suburbs.

(in)side DaySpring: things we love
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(in)side DaySpring:
things we love
& you will too!
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Reader Interactions


  1. oh, i feel this, and i only have two kids. i’m always ready to say no. chris and i try to plan things for us to do when we are able, and then surprise them with it. the element of surprise adds a whole new dimension to getting to do something.

    • Kendal, over the last few months there have been cereal boxes with coupon codes for movies and I grab those. In December I took two of my daughters to see Tangled, and we went for free from those box codes. We’ll eat the cereal anyway, so it’s like free movies. 🙂

  2. I’m a mother of 9 children and we’ve never had very much money; for the last 18 months we’ve had even less due to my husband’s long-term unemployment. I love saying “yes” but I, too, have to say “no” or “not now” far, far more often than I’d like to. Still, due to God’s grace, I’ve found a few ways to say “yes” at least sometimes.

    1) by taking one of the children with him when he visits our local thrift store, my husband is able to say “yes” to a toy, a book or article of clothing every now and then.
    2) by saying “no” at the grocery store or department store, it frees us up to say “yes” to the local dollar store…with a caveat…that they get one treat between them (usually we have only a few children with us since some are old enough to babysit); so for a dollar, two or three children get a “just us” treat.
    3) by buying a $1.00 bag of candy and bringing it home, my husband and I can occasionally hand out treats to many that have cost us very little.

    For the older children, we say “yes” to the occasional on-line expenditure (from e-bay or amazon) but they have to take turns, they have to get the best price and they have to be prepared to wait; if it is something they really want, they are. Since our children aren’t allowed to be, and don’t want to be, “into” modern culture, this works for us.

    Redbox has enabled us to say “yes” to a nice treat for our children. Though my children are limited in what they are allowed to watch, Redbox occasionally gets some movies in that we will let them watch. If it is for the older ones, I fix them “man food”(they are older, male, teens) or a couple of special sandwiches, etc. and they are off for an evening of fun. For the younger ones, they get a “jamma night”; they get into their pj’s, I make them a special dinner (store bought individual pizzas, homemade spaghetti, etc….very child-friendly food), pour them up something nice to drink (in sippy cups so they won’t spill) and some kind of treat (homemade popcorn, brownies, etc.) and off they go. They are happy that it’s so special and I’m happy it is costing me so very little to make them have such a good time. This is especially good when we can get a “code” from Redbox for a freebie!

    I liked your article a lot. Our Lord is so precious to me. Thank you!

    • Anna, you’ve got some great ideas. Groupon has a deal today where you pay $2 for 5 movies at Blockbuster Express (like Redbox; they’re in our local Publix stores). I’m getting that!

  3. Something fun a friend shared with me the other day, and it’s free… she gives her children a special joke each day in their school lunchbox, or maybe you could hide it in their math book (if you are a homeschooler). She googles ‘kid jokes’ on the computer for ideas, but there are also a lot of books on children’s jokes at the library.

    I know that’s not an actual purchase, but the thought counts for more than the money involved, oftentimes.

    • What a fun idea! I’ve found sending text messages to the older kids (I have two in college) to be a great “gift” to them and stay in touch.

  4. I love to make things with my son, admittedly he’s not yet 2, but the fun of baking together is a treat. Going on walks and picking leaves/flowers/stones to make a collage… I just found how to make homemade kaleidoscopes on the internet, I plan to make those to add to his pinata (birthday soon). Older children would probably enjoy making them. I also made some homemade Maracas Aaaahh… the wonder of Paper Mache! I think making things together is a wonderful activity a child’s imagination is incredible.

    When it becomes overwhelming to see how much STUFF there is, I remind myself there are so many who do and are happy with so much less. I don’t think the pioneers had ipods 🙂

    • Mrs. B, I always take my kids on lunch dates for their birthdays, which is a chance to do something special with one child. We used to have a whole yearly schedule where my husband and I rotated month by month having a date with one child.

      My January post here was about our Moe’s nights. Those have been great for us because the kids eat free and they get a drink, and a cookie: the extras! It’s the only time they don’t hear, “Everyone gets water.” 🙂

  5. I only have one kiddo – just 14 months old – and am already feeling the sting of the “no”. Working on ways to say “yes” more is something that’s going to come as he gets older. For now, when I have to say “no” and he scrunches up his face and cries, I give him a hug and explain “I know it’s hard to understand, but sometimes Mommy says no because Mommy wants you to be safe and not get hurt.” My hope is that as he gets older and there are more and more things for me to say “yes” to, he’ll have a healthy respect for the “no” because he knows Mommy is only looking out for his best interest.

  6. I am a big fan of setting aside a certain amount of “fun” money each month. Even if it’s just a bit, I know I can sometimes say yes without being irresponsible. The good news is that by saying no to my kids when they were little, even when it was hard, I taught them the value of money. Now they have a good ethic and save their money well.

  7. After being layed off for over 1 a nd 1/2 yrs. I put an empty candy bucket (plastic) out so that we could dump all of our change in it. By the end of the month we have about $40. and we use this to either give to our 21 yr. old son who hasn’t found a job since graduating in 2009 or my husband, son and I go out to a nice sit down meal. In the months of June, Oct. and April it is used to buy that person’s birthday gift. So, this is one way you could have enough money to say “yes” at least once a month.

  8. This is TOTALLY me – my kids usually do a double-take when I say “yes.” You should see their amazement!

    Redbox is definitely a “special thing” I can say yes to once in a while. And, we are blessed that our Parents give gift certificates for an activity for birthdays/Christmas (tickets to a play, passes to a museum or Nickelodeon Universe at the Mall of America). That way, it helps us say yes & the kids get a lot more out of an experience/adventure than just a toy.

    Winter is tough for us, being stuck inside a lot with the extreme low temps – but we go to the library and make crafts or play card/dice games at home. We don’t like to spend $ eating out, but stopping to get a $1 Jr. shake at Arby’s once in a while is a fun treat. And, I try to yes as much as possible to hot cocoa at home (and chai tea for me).

    • Yes, those $1 menus really help. I took 3 of my younger kids to the circus this week (blogger tickets, so that was a great free night!) and on the way home we had the $1 MickeyD’s sundaes. 🙂

  9. it must be difficult to have to say, “no” so frequently.
    i think children understand when you don’t want
    to but have to deny them the things they desire.

    we had a different dilemma, as we could have said
    “yes” to practically anything our children wanted
    but frequently said, “no” to teach them that they
    couldn’t expect to have everything they wanted and
    to learn that life could be wonderful without having
    many things. that was difficult, too.

  10. Several years ago the Lord told me that He was going to take me THROUGH a season of refining. I had no clue as to what that meant but slowly the fire of the Lord came. Much of what many Americans are going through now our family went through starting 7 years ago. The refining fires were really hot for about 3&half yrs.
    The reason why I share all of that is to say that the Lord taught us so much about how HE is our source for EVERYTHING…. we have never had to ask for anything (as He says His people will never have to beg for bread). All of us have learned the deep lessons of compassion & empathy. I give the Lord all the glory b/c my children do not have a sense of entitlement but hearts that want to share. The lessons that all the *stuff* is just earthy stuff and that the real riches are being credited to their spiritual bank accounts. All of these things and so much more is what I would share with my children when the questions of “can we get this, can I have that”.
    They have now seen with their own eyes the selfishness unfortunately many children & parents have today and they will tell me about it and the Lord has really helped them to see what the FLESH looks like and what the SPIRIT looks like.
    So as far as material stuff I would recommend going to the library & checking out movies or computer games. Buying popcorn and doing movie nights or camping out in the backyard.
    Having a block party where everyone brings a dish.
    Be blessed!

  11. One thing I do is say “yes…” and then follow that with when or how the ‘yes’ would be possible. For example, with wanting sweets & treats: “yes!…this weekend when it’s one of our treat days!” For wanting new toys or knick-knacks: “yes!…let’s put that on your birthday/Christmas/gift wish list!”

    The result is the same, but all our attitudes are better – ’cause I’m saying yes more than no!
    Blessings –
    Teri @ StumblingAroundInTheLight.com

  12. Saying “no” to money isn’t the worst thing a mom can say. My parents said “no” every time I asked for it. Until I had my own job & was only asking for a pay day loan.

    If you watch “Private Practice,” there was a character — she was a mom — and her name was “Busy.” (Maybe it’s spelled “Bizzy” but with each progressive episode, I got the feeling that her name was spelled “Busy.”) Anyway, that character seemed to be the kind of mom who always responded to her children, “I’m busy.”

    Since my parents said “no” to money, it made me want to earn my own money in a way I might not have had the desire if money had been handed to me on request.

    When I’m a mom, I’d rather be the one who says no to money requests than the mom whose children call her “Busy.”

  13. I could have written this myself! I feel like I am always saying no to my kids. I am thankful for a God who always gives them what they need, and a little bit of what they want.

  14. My sisters and I would look after one of the kids from church during Sunday afternoons. We would normally bring him to the convenience store and he points out to a lot of things! It`s really hard to say “no” because you really love the kid and you really want to say “yes” but I have to be firm (and that gets so hard and scary when the kid starts to cry !),

    We would just tell him to finish everything we`ve brought and then we`ll see if we could buy the others he wants. In the end, he never gets to finish all of the food…and then he forgets. 😉