With the new decade here, it’s a perfect time to think about what we want to change in our lives. As parents, we can reflect on what is working with our families and what we’d like to change. I am one of those people who like New Year’s Resolutions and one of my tricks in sticking with them is to make doable goals. Like my husband says, “the way to eat an elephant is one bite at a time.” If I make resolutions that are too huge, I’ll let them go after a few weeks.
I read through several articles about parenting New Year’s Resolutions for 2020 and found some common themes. First, is to spend quality time with your kids. Be there in the moment–and put your phone down.
(CNN) If you’re looking to improve your parenting, you’re not alone. In my opinion, it’s an essential area of course correction, up there with weight loss, better eating and better spending, arguably more essential.
What’s beautiful about parenting resolutions is that your kids benefit too, and likely your spouse and any potential future grandkids. You get a lot of bang for your resolution buck.
As with any resolution, honestly examine areas where you feel you could be doing better or want to improve. Below are eight parenting resolution thought-starters in categories we all probably need to give more attention in the coming year.
There’s a lot of talk, many articles and a long shelf of books on mindful parenting. But it all boils down to this: When you’re with your kids, give them full, curious and happy attention.
Listen to them, respond, don’t let yourself be distracted by your phone, or future-thinking or your own agenda. Be fully there for them, giving what they need the most: your attention, combined with an openness that encourages them to share whatever is on their mind or what’s happening with them at that moment.
The dividends of this effort are deep and long-long lasting — from fewer tantrums to stronger bonds. If you only pick one resolution, make it this one
Don’t drive under the influence of your phone
Here comes your PSA: More than 40,000 people died on US roads in 2016, according to National Safety Council estimates. Many roadway fatalities involve drunken driving, speeding and not wearing seat belts (so don’t do any of those things, clearly), but increasingly, accidents are being caused by people texting or talking while driving.
Fifty-one percent of teens reported seeing their parents checking and/or using their mobile devices while driving, according to a Common Sense Media poll last year. And when you repeatedly model a behavior in front of your kids, that’s called teaching.
Once they have a license, do you want your kids texting or talking while they drive? Do you want other drivers texting or talking while driving anywhere near your children? Me neither. When you stop doing it yourself, you are immediately modeling the behavior you want from them when it’s their time to be behind the wheel. And help spread this gospel to friends and family. The lives we save may be our own.
Yell less, breathe more
There are many other great and valuable tips discussed including treating yourself, slowing down and limiting screen time. Here’s how to keep track of your progress:
How to track and succeed
One of the major tenets of resolution and habit success is tracking. And while “better parenting” is difficult to measure, more specific action is easy to. Just give yourself a grade on your resolution at the end of every day on a piece of paper. Research suggests that the average time it takes for an action to become automatic and habitualized is just over two months, if you stick with it daily.
Another useful device is accountability. Tell your spouse or your family, and even your kids, what you’re working to improve. They will remind and support you because they want you to succeed and the family to thrive.
In 6 Parenting Resolutions You Can Keep in 2020 from Positive Parenting Solutions there are more tips to think about trying:
1. Rethink the Way You Spend Time With Your Kids
“Wait, what?” you might be asking. “I spend 10 HOURS with my kids every day! What is there to rethink?!
I hear you, friend, but consider your day-in-day-out time with the kids. How often are you multitasking with dinner or laundry or the bazillion other things on your list?
While we’re physically WITH our kids, we’re not always fully present in mind, body and soul. (Myself included.)
Because of that, we pay a price. If kids don’t get some “fully present and engaged” time with us during the day, they will have their attention baskets filled one way or another – whining, clinging, interrupting, fighting with siblings. Do any of those sound familiar?
All of these behaviors get your attention – albeit negative attention. I know that may seem silly to think a child would seek out negative attention if they didn’t get positive attention. But the truth is, kids simply want their baskets filled.
However, you can turn those behaviors around by making a small tweak to the time you already spend with your kids. I’m talking kid-centered, intentional, and directly labeled time.
I’m suggesting you spend 10 INTENTIONAL minutes each day one-on-one with each of your kids. Here at Positive Parenting Solutions, we call this Mind, Body and Soul time because it has incredible effects on the health of your child’s mind, body, and soul.
By kid-centered, I mean your child is in control of the 10 minutes—they call the shots. A tea party? Lego building? Dressing up daddy? A tickle fight? Listening to their favorite music with your teen? Whatever the kid chooses, you oblige. (As long as it’s an activity that can reasonably be accomplished in 10-15 minutes.) By giving your child the power during this time, you help fill their power buckets in incredible ways.
By intentional, I mean no distractions—put down your phone, don’t answer that email, turn off the show you’re watching. Your child is the center of your universe for these 10 minutes and it’s critical you are fully-present for your time with her.
Lastly, be sure to label Mind, Body and Soul Time at the outset (you can call it whatever you want) and when it’s finished, say, “I sure enjoyed our special time today! I can’t wait to do it again tomorrow!” Your child will benefit from knowing you’re committed to your time, plus you’ll get credit in his mind for time well spent.
Note: For Positive Parenting Solutions Members, revisit Session 1 to learn more about Mind, Body and Soul Time and check out the advanced module “The Busy Parents Guide to Mind, Body & Soul Time” for extra help.
2. Ensure Your Child Gets Enough Sleep
Sleep matters…a lot. Kids would never admit it, but they need regular bedtimes and plenty of sleep to be at their best. These key components to a healthy, calm lifestyle, however, are sometimes the first things we abandon as we celebrate the holiday season—and they’re the most daunting piece to restore in January.
So how do we back up bedtime from the late hours we’ve grown used to keeping?
The most effective way to get your kids more sleep is to keep bedtimes early and consistent throughout the week, without much more than a 15-minute difference on the weekends. If you give in to a late bedtime once, kids will think the hour on the clock is always up for negotiation.
Now that the New Year is here, what are your resolutions? Do you have any tips to help stick with them?