As 2013 winds down and a new year dawns, many will look back in reflection and look ahead with optimism, resolving to improve in one way or another.
As parents, we all aim to do the very best we can in this all important role we’ve been given. Here are 14 resolutions to consider to make 2014 your family’s best year yet.
1. Teach kindness.
Most parents tell their kids to “be good,” “be nice.” How many of us really teach our children to be kind. To what extent do we make this a priority? And, really, what could be a more important life lesson? There are countless opportunities to focus on kindness, compassion, and putting the needs of others first throughout each day.
In lieu of specific goals, some people give each year a theme as a resolution. Will 2014 be your family’s year of kindness?
2. Start a new family tradition.
The rhythm and security that comes along with traditions add warmth and fondness to family life. Do you remember the cookies your grandmother made for each special celebration? Did you have a big dinner with your family every Sunday evening? Did your family visit the same place every summer holiday? There are some rituals that are constant in every family. If you have memories like these, they are likely some of your best.
What ritual can you incorporate into 2014? Family game night? Family movie night? Pot luck Friday dinner? Saturday morning nature walk? Monthly backyard campout? Annual trip? What would your family love?
3. Stop yelling.
No one can push you to your breaking point like the adorable little people to whom you give all of your love and energy. We’ve all been there. But, yelling only teaches them that they deserve to be yelled at and that losing control (because that is really what happens, isn’t it?) is okay. It’s a bad habit that many parents easily fall into and one that provides no benefit in the job of teaching our children, but can hurt them.
Make 2014 the year you begin to break the habit. The only time you want to yell is if the house is on fire (etc.). 😉
4. Travel together
Family travel has countless benefits. Plan a trip for 2014. Whether it be super simple like a campout in a nearby state park or extravagant like five stars in St. Bart’s, the key is focused time together as a family. Book something at the beginning of the year and enjoy the countdown until you take off.
5. Encourage creativity.
Perhaps 2014 is the year of creativity for your family. Creativity is increasingly being devalued or ignored in schools. Yet, kids (humans, really) have an inherent need to create. Remove the roadblocks to creativity by setting up a home where creativity is encouraged.
Easy access to crayons, paper, and paints is a good starting point. Perhaps your family members could make amazing things with a sewing machine, a piano, a hammer and nails, Adobe Photoshop, whatever! Make this a focus for 2014 and celebrate the imagination and talents that emerge.
6. Reduce television or video gaming.
If this is an issue for your family, you know it. Mindless television watching or video gaming provides little to no value for kids. Excessive “screen time” has been connected to many negative health and behavioral conditions in children. You don’t need me to tell you this.
Go big by canceling cable or small by setting time limits. Whatever headway you make in this regard, celebrate what your kids fill their newfound time with.
7. Quit smoking.
Is this the year you finally kick the habit? Is this even a parenting goal? Well, besides the effects of second-hand smoke, there’s the message it sends, namely: “It’s okay to smoke.” and “I don’t value my health or future.” You can do this.
8. Celebrate the “mundane.”
Does your 2014 call for a paradigm shift? Are you the parent who does the laundry? Cooks every meal? Volunteers for everything? Checks homework? Cleans the house? Do these tasks feel thankless and mundane? Make 2014 the year you celebrate all that is awesome about this. You are the heart of this whole operation! 🙂 Shift your focus from pining away for that life you once dreamed about to owning and loving the one you actually have.
9. Schedule boredom.
Speaking of mundane, pencil in some boredom for the kids while you’re at it. Boredom is great. When your kids tell you they’re “bored,” tell them, “That’s great!” That’s when magic happens. Let them complain, whine, whatever they need, but do not give them something to do. Endure the backlash and then wait. Forts will be built, stories written, books read, castles raised, ideas born. Boredom is awesome, but hard to come by when we are all so busy, so pencil it in. Literally. Make 2014 the year they were bored.
10. Identify your child’s “thing.”
If someone asked you what you kid’s into and your answer is the name of a cartoon or video game, then this might be the resolution for you. Time to dig a little deeper and find out what lights up your little one. Pay attention to their habits and the things they do when there’s nothing distracting them. When you can identify their sincere interests you can take them and run with them, exploring and playing to their heart’s content. So much learning can happen when a child is enthusiastic and innately curious about something. Find your child’s thing.
11. Learn about GMO’s.
You’ve heard the term but you’re not quite sure you know what a GMO is? Well, it stands for Genetically Modified Organism and it has a direct impact on your family’s nutrition. Do the research and you’ll likely find yourself with different grocery shopping habits at the end of 2014. Scary stuff.
12. Say ‘no” more.
Are you a yes-man? (woman?) Cupcakes for the school party? Yes! Lead the club/troop? Yes! Babysit your friend’s kids every week? Yes! A night out? Yes! Playdate? Yes! Give a talk about XYZ? Yes! Come to your party? Yes! And on and on. If your calendar in 2013 was overwhelming, then perhaps 2014 is the year you learn to say “no.” Take stock of your priorities and practice tactful ways to decline invitations and bow out of obligations. Your kids will appreciate a less frazzled mom or dad.
13. Go outside.
Time in nature is becoming more and more scarce for a society so attached to technology. The benefits of being in nature have been lauded time and time again. You don’t need a scientific study to tell you that though. Just a walk in the woods or along the shoreline will tell you immediately that this is a healthy and beneficial thing to do. So resolve to do more of this! Whether a morning walk or a weekly outing – get you and the kids outside!
14. Open your mind to homeschooling.
Even if you don’t wish to homeschool your children, take a look at the world of homeschooling today. The population of people who homeschool grows every year and they are doing amazing things. Check them out online, follow their blogs and the companies that serve them. If education is important to you, tap into these communities for a rich array of resources and a different take on how it’s “supposed to be.”