This time of year, most of us are doing a bit of self-reflecting as we make our New Years resolutions. Like all jobs and roles in our lives, there are usually ways we can make improvements. Parenting is no exception, whether it is being a little more patient, learning to let go of the small things, or simply taking some time out for ourselves. So now is a great time to sit back and think about some changes you might want to make in 2014 and set goals for yourself as a parent.
We all know there is no perfect way to be a parent. Along with the tremendous joy, satisfaction and endless love you feel as a parent, parenting is also an ever-revolving door of learning, changing, doubt and trying to make the best decisions we can for our families. And of course, just when you think you have something figured out, new transitions are on the horizon.
We can’t stop change, but we can set goals for how we want to respond to it and how we want to improve ourselves as parents. We’ve put together a list of some things you may want to consider for your parenting New Years resolutions this year.
Accentuate the Positive
Research shows that having a positive attitude and displaying it through actions and speech can improve our overall well-being and happiness. Most parents would agree that they want their children to grow up in a happy, healthy environment. That starts with us as parents. Being optimist and solution-oriented teaches our children to overcome obstacles and approach problems without anger and fear. Using words like “no,” “stop,” “don’t” and “can’t” are negative influences on your child. While using these words is sometimes unavoidable for your child’s safety, use them sparingly so they have more impact when you need them. You’ll be surprised what a positive and pleasant household you can create with this shift in your outlook.
Do Unto Others
The golden rule is a great New Years resolution. Yes, we all learned it in pre-school, but it is so simple to forget when we’re bogged down with the daily responsibilities of parenthood. As a parent, doing unto others as we would want done unto us is about respect and being a good role model. Respect your children as you wish for them to respect you. Use your manners when asking your children to follow your directions: “please set the table” or “thank you for using your inside voice.” When you respect your child by using kind words, your child will learn this behavior from you. Also demonstrate respect for those around you, including your spouse, family, friends and even complete strangers. Little ones learn how to interact with the world from our actions.
Foster Independence Within Boundaries
Most parents would agree: we wish to raise well-adjusted, independent, productive children. To do this, we have to give them a little space to make decisions, make mistakes and learn valuable life lessons. We all have rules for the safety of our kids, and some rules are for our own sanity as well. But create small spaces in your life where your kids can make their own choices. For instance, declare one day a week when your little one can select her own outfit. Make it a game by challenging her to ensure it is seasonally appropriate, includes shoes and perhaps a certain color of the week. Another idea: let your kids decide the menu for one family dinner a week. It has to include something from each food category and the whole family will eat it together. Or if your goal is to spend more time exercising outdoors, let your child pick which sport or games to play. The freedom to make decisions will foster a sense of independence and pride in children. If they discover they don’t like their own selection, they are more likely to make better choices next time. Plus, giving your kids a say will likely cut down on arguments.
Spend Some Time Away
Kids need time to be kids just like adults need time to be adults. Schedule time to get away from parenthood. For you that may mean a far-away vacation or simply a night at a coffee shop with a good book. Whatever your “away” may be, do take the time to escape from toys, crafts, meal preparation, diapers and laundry every once in awhile. Relaxing and taking your mind off your day-to-day tasks will ultimately rejuvenate and re-energize you as a parent. So do it for yourself and your kids!
Make Your Goals Known
By writing down or verbalizing your goals, you are more likely to feel accountable to yourself and your family. If you set a goal to breastfeed for one year and your family knows it, they can help you achieve it with encouragement and other forms of help, like being mindful of feeding schedules and watching older children so you can bond with your baby. Your parenting goals will only work if you can keep them, so set yourself up for success. Also, discuss joint parenting goals with your partner so you know you’re on the same page and can support one another throughout the year.
We wish you all a very happy New Year filled with love, joy, family and fulfilled New Years resolutions!