Parenting is the one job that doesn’t come with a holiday bonus or a week at the spa before the new year starts. The holiday season is often a rush of both unexpected joys and occasional chaos for parents. Before the new year starts, it’s always a good idea to take a brief pause and reflect on what seemed to work well the past year with parenting, and what didn’t. New Year’s resolutions for parenting are one way to get a fresh start for the new year. This year, after much reflection, and a few minutes hiding out in my room from the kids, I have decided that the following New Year’s resolutions are on my list this year.
1. Take More Time to Play
In the land of parenting and adulthood, play is often a notion of the past. If I counted how many times I was thinking about getting dishes done or dinner made instead of agreeing to a few minutes of playtime with the kids, that number would be quite high. Ironically, some of the best times I’ve had with kids have been the ones where I forgot about all the responsibilites and just took the time to play. The kids remember the time we went on a 3-mile hike or played cards all night but I bet they won’t remember what they ate for dinner last night or how clean the dishes were. It’s the priceless moments of simply having fun together that everyone remembers best.
2. Less No, More Yes
Next year there will be more yes responses and less of the “negative no” answers. If you ever really take the time to listen, really listen, to the number of times a parent says no during the course of a day, it often adds up to a lot more than one might think. All the “don’t do thats,” “not nows,” and no responses become a barrage of negative responses. Granted, parenting does require an unusual amount of saying no, but sometimes I think it becomes an automatic response. The goal is to turn a few automatic no answers into at least maybes, and when possible even a yes.
3. More Teachable Moments
Teachable moments come in all forms, including physical, emotional, and educational opportunities to share some knowledge or insight with kids. How many times has it been easier to just do something yourself than to let your child assist? Other times parents try to shield kids from emotional learning, like seeing a parent deal with stress or cope with sadness. Teachable moments are present everyday if one takes the time to notice.
4. More Parent Time Outs
Next year I plan to have more parent time outs. Those quick five or ten minute breaks when things seem chaotic or when patience is running out will prevent potential parent and/or child meltdowns. This benefits everyone in the house, and it’s amazing what a little cool down period can do for mental health. Nobody is logical when patience runs low with parenting, so instead of handing out consequences or discipline when in a state of heightened emotions, I plan to take a time out more often when needed.
5. A Million Hugs
The last resolution is the most important of all. Kids of all ages need a hug or kiss, a pat on the back, a smile, or a high five once in awhile. Even teenagers who pretend to be embarassed. Too often parents forget that all the hugs and kisses we once gave to our cherub-looking, affectionate toddlers, are still needed when those little angels are now towering over us at 14. A pat on the back or a quick hug goes a long way and conveys a sense of unconditional love, which all kids need to grow up healthy and happy.