Resolutions You Can Stick To
Want to make a few New Year's parenting resolutions you can actually keep? Here, 10 simple ideas your family can follow to start the year off right
1. Be consistent with discipline
Step one: Set boundaries and limits for kids and set a discipline plan. Step two: Stick to it. If you don’t follow through with the rules and consequences you establish, your kids probably won’t either. Consistency, like routines, is healthy for kids; it makes them feel safe and secure. “Consistent discipline methods (presuming they are respectful and healthy) let children know what is expected and make it easier for them to make choices that are successful,” says Kathy Lynn, a Vancouver-based parenting educator and Today’s Parent contributor. “That’s not to say that [once a plan is established] they will never misbehave, just that they will know what will happen if they do.”
2. Stop shouting
Have you ever heard yourself yelling, “How many times have I told you not to leave your shoes at the front door? Don’t make me ask you again.” Lynn says “a healthy discipline plan just doesn’t include shouting or nagging. If we know how we’re going to respond to our children’s behaviour, we won’t get to the point of raising our voice.” Don’t forget to be patient. Understand that your kids will push the limits, and it’s your job to get them back on track, Lynn says.
3. Invest in family time
Let’s face it: We’re busier than ever today, so busy we’re spending more time commuting, working, running to hockey games, ballet, swimming lessons, etc., than sharing quality time with family. So pick one night a week and make it “family fun night.” Play a board game, watch a movie, go for a walk; whatever you choose, you’ll feel better about doing something together.
4. Invest in me time
That’s right; mark a little ME time in your day planner. Mothers have a habit of putting themselves and their needs last on their lengthy to-do lists. Take up ceramics, join a Pilates class, go for a manicure, read a book, relax in a hot bath: You’ll feel better physically and mentally, and you’ll be happier and more relaxed when family time rolls around.
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5. Monitor your kids’ Internet use
It’s true; the World Wide Web does offer hundreds of thousands of pages of facts, figures, study references and educational and interactive games, not to mention the not-so-educational fun stuff. But your kids need to understand that it can also be a dangerous place. With cyber-bullying on the rise, it’s imperative for you to know what your kids are spending their time looking at online. While you don’t need to look over their shoulders when they’re surfing, ask lots of questions about sites they’re visiting and monitor their use.
6. Plan healthier meals
We’ve all stopped for fast food on the way home from work or ordered in because we’re too tired to cook. But if this is habit in your home, it’s time to try a new approach. Heather McColl, a registered dietitian in Vancouver, suggests washing and cutting all vegetables when you get home from the grocery store so they’re ready to throw into an easy salad, soup or casserole on nights you’re tempted to pick up take-out. “Plan for meals that require more cooking time on nights when you have more time to cook. On nights when there is little time to cook, choose a fast meal, such as a stir-fry using a bag of pre-cut veggies and leftover rice and chicken from the night before,” she adds.
7. Be aware of childhood obesity
Studies conducted by the Heart and Stroke Foundation show childhood obesity in Canada has more than tripled in the last 20-plus years with about 37 percent of children either overweight or obese. It’s not uncommon for these kids to have poor self-esteem, and they can develop type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and even heart disease. If you’re concerned about your child, or not sure what a normal height/weight ratio is, make a note to ask your doctor on your next visit.
8. Get more sleep
You keep tabs on your children’s bedtime to make sure they’re well rested (or you try to anyway), but are you getting enough shut-eye? According to Statistics Canada, one in seven adult Canadians has difficulty sleeping. Besides being restorative for the brain, an immunity booster and good for bone repair, memory and concentration, catching your zzz’s will help you stay alert when schlepping the kids to school in the morning, more productive on the job and less irritable with your spouse.
9. Perfect your morning routine
Here’s where getting enough sleep really counts! Establishing a routine that works for your family can make or break your day. The key is to plan ahead. Pack lunches, set out clothes, place knapsacks by the front door before you go to bed. Then set your alarm 15 or 20 minutes earlier than you normally would to allow time to change your little one’s outfit if she spills juice all over herself. And involve the kids in completing tasks that have to be done in the morning. If Fido needs to be let out into the yard, give that responsibility to your 11-year-old.
Yup, it’s an obvious one that doesn’t cost a penny, but so many of us forget about it. Studies show that laughter releases feel-good endorphins and hormones, it’s good for the heart and, perhaps best of all for your brood, it’s contagious. Whether you tell jokes before bed, draw ketchup happy faces on their breakfast eggs or just act silly and giggle once in a while, your kids are sure to follow suit.
Information is current as of the original date of publication.