Let’s admit it; this parenting business isn’t always easy. We’ve made a few mistakes over the last 12 months – far more than we’d like to admit! While we can’t change the past, there’s plenty of little steps we can make today that could have a big impact on our children’s tomorrow.
So with the festive season drawing to an end, here are our top 5 parenting resolutions to see us into the New Year.
1. Set a limit on working hours
For many parents, the reality of modern living means that we can no longer afford to give up work and care for our children full-time. The major challenge in this is finding the right balance between earning a living and spending quality time with our kids.
The first step is to set limits on the time and energy we’re willing to dedicate to our jobs. Can we leave it all behind at the end of ‘office hours’ or do we need to take work home? If it’s the latter, it essential to plan of how long you’re going to spend on each task and then STICK TO IT! Don’t let yourself be drawn into repeatedly checking emails or answering non-urgent phone calls – little ones can start to feel like they always come second place and it’s just not worth the extra energy.
2. Only cook one meal
If we let them, fussy eating habits can take up a lot of our time. One child loves eggs, the other hates them, and neither will even look at a carrot. It’s easy to get sucked into making three different meals in an attempt to keep everyone happy, but – medical needs aside – there’s no reason why we should be pandering to picky eaters.
Sometime kids need to be presented with foods a few dozen times before they’ll give in and try it, so their initial reluctance shouldn’t dictate what’s on offer. Keep the portions sizes small to minimise wastage and make sure they aren’t overwhelmed by the amount on their plate. Yes, they’re going to complain, but they won’t strave themselves and everyone will be happier when dinnertime stops feeling like a battleground.
3. Prioritise play
Physical activity should be a normal, everyday part of our lives, not something that feels like a chore or interruption. Bike rides, swimming, family walks, flying kites, gardening, a game of Twister – it doesn’t matter what we do, just as long as it can become part of our weekly routine.
A mix of competitive and non-competitive forms of exercise will keep everyone on their toes and help the whole family feel fit and invigorated. And who need a better excuse to make use of that big and beautiful trampoline that’s taken up residence at the bottom of the garden? This is the year we’re going to get ourselves moving!
4. Go greener
As governments across the globe tackle the sticky issue of climate change, we’re all becoming aware of the need to be a little more eco-friendly. Schools and preschools are making the effort to recycle and take care of their local environment, so naturally children are looking to us to see whether we’re doing our part, too.
Now is a great time to commit to finding eco-conscious ways to interact with our children. From walking instead of driving short distances, to reusing old objects or planting a wildlife-friendly garden, we can teach our children how to care about something beyond themselves. You can find lots of inspiring ideas here: www.ecofriendlykids.co.uk.
5. Make time for you and your partner
Okay, so the aim here may be to become better parents, but that doesn’t mean all the attention should be focused on our kids. We need to provide them with balanced role models, and that means teaching them the importance of sharing our time equally between others and ourselves.
Anyone who dedicates themselves to the happiness of others still needs to recharge their own batteries occasionally. And that goes for modelling a good partner relationship too. Creating healthy relationships doesn’t just benefit us, it also helps our children to them feel secure, confident and ready to take on the world.