Yes, it's that time of year again where we all look back at the past year, make fresh new plans for the new year and of course, make the ever popular New Year's resolutions.
Why not this year make some "parenting" resolutions? Parenting is definitely "on the job" training and we all strive to do better. So here are some "parenting resolutions" that might help you out and make this your best parenting year ever.
#1. Take Time For Yourself This lesson takes a lot of parents a long time to learn. We always do, do, do for others: our children, our spouse or partner, our job. And, at the end of the day, there is no time for you. Taking time EVERYDAY for yourself is not selfish...it's smart! It can be something as small as getting up an hour early to have a cup of coffee alone, take a fitness or dance class, take a walk, meditate...whatever you choose. But take this time for yourself...it keeps your batteries charged, better equipped to handle the struggles of everyday and make you a healthier, happier parent!
#2. Get Into The Habit of Planning It sounds so easy, yet so many of us don't do this. Get backpacks and clothes ready for school the night before...maybe even lunches. Avoid the chaos and hectic mad rush of the morning by planning a little the night before. Gets everyone off to a much better start to the day. Planning meals is also another way to relieve the evening stress! Getting the kids to practice, games, dance class, karate...constant rushing. Plan your meals for the week and get to know your slow cooker! Best thing I ever did!
#3. Say what you mean and mean what you say Failure to follow through on punishments or promises that you make is a BIG reason why kids don't always take us seriously. When children or teens misbehave, give the warning first. Second, give the warning with the consequence. Third, follow through. Empty threats and promises will lead children to believe they can do what they want because the consequence is not enforced. If you tell your 4-year-old that you won't go to the park if he doesn't follow the rules and you take him anyway because it was in your plan for the day...he has learned that the threats are idle and will continue with the behavior you are trying to stop. Older children and teens, take away phones, computers, car privileges...these will have an effect on them and make them think twice before making the same mistake again.
#4. Be Positive So often we find ourselves saying, "don't do this" or "stop that." Although I am not a believer in constant positive reinforcement, I do think that when your child does something good, it should also be acknowledged. When they use good manners without being prompted, when they play nicely with their siblings...let them know. Positive reinforcement is much stronger than negative criticism.
#5. Broaden Your Food Menu We all get tired of the same old foods and same old recipes. Each week add a new recipe to your dinner repetoire. There are so many recipe sites on line that you can use that will fit with whatever your needs might be. Healthy, gluten-free, vegetarian...so many sites to choose from. Mix it up a bit this year. Also, eat dinner together as a family at least one weeknight. It's hard but will be worth it in the long run!
Here's to a happy, healthy and good parenting year! Happy 2013!
I welcome your comments and any parenting ideas you may have!!
Maria Mahoney, MD
Kidworx Pediatric Center