It is a couple months into the new year, and while I’m a big believer in reflecting on our choices and actions and how they panned out for us, I’m also a big believer in wiping the slate clean and allowing everyone to start fresh. With that mindset, I’ve put together a list of resolutions for parents. Yes, you should think about what worked in the last year and what failed, but then move further into 2020 with a commitment to better parenting. I can’t make any promises, but I’m fairly certain that employing at least some of these practices will lead to a more peaceful home and a closer family.
1. Make sure you save time for yourself. There’s a reason this is my number one item on the list. I’m going to give it to you straight: You can’t be a good parent – no matter how hard you try – if you don’t take care of yourself and attend to your own happiness first. Selfish? Not even a little bit. Strong parents make for strong kids. So pursue a hobby, take time as a couple, and spend an evening with your friends. You will come home relaxed and rejuvenated while fostering happiness within yourself.
2. Decide as a family that you will all spend less time in front of a screen. My family has taken several cruises where we all agreed to put away our phones for an entire week. Here’s what we got instead: eye contact, uninterrupted conversations, random musings that come when you’re lying in the sun just thinking, and way more memories than selfies. If you want to communicate with your kids, put down the electronics and start talking. And insist that they do the same, no matter how much they grumble. Kids need parameters in all areas, including technology.
3. Commit to speaking more kindly to one another. While everyone gets angry, it shouldn’t be acceptable for members of a family to scream at each other on a regular basis, call each other names, say hurtful phrases like “I hate you!” or use profanity towards one another. Family members who respect each other live much more peacefully together. If you wouldn’t talk to your friends a certain way, you shouldn’t talk to your family members that way. So pause, take a breath, and think before you speak.
4. Reserve dinner time as sacred family time. Sit down each night together and share stories of your day. Pray together at the dinner table and thank God for that day’s blessings. This will open up conversation and establish positive attitudes as you spend some time together reflecting on the day. Share the dinner chores as a family so that everyone has a role in preparation or clean up. It may sound all Ozzie & Harriet, but families are closer when they covet each other’s presence.
5. Laugh more, reduce stress, and increase joy. All relationships, whether friends, spouses, or parents and children, need fun and enjoyment to thrive. There may be plenty of pain in this world, but there’s also a great deal of humor to be found in day-to-day circumstances. Help your kids discover the inner joy that will sustain them through tough times by teaching them to find humor in their everyday lives. Plan fun activities that build memories they will cherish – family games and traditions, pizza night, bedtime rituals – anything that will bring fun and laughter to your home. And just as importantly, quit stressing. Show your kids that gratitude and acceptance are two of the most freeing attitudes they can embody.