PARENTING RESOLUTIONS FOR THE NEW YEAR

We can all benefit from the opportunity to have a fresh start and set new goals. As we begin a new year as parents, this is our chance to stop for a moment and write down a few parenting resolutions. What are your goals as a mother or father in 2019? Here are a few suggestions that you may want to include:

1. Be present

The best thing we can do for our children is to give them our full attention. This year, make a promise to yourself that you will be present when you spend time with your children. Protect that time and treat it as the precious thing that it is. Include your children in your daily activities, ask questions, watch their facial expressions and body language, play with them, read together, and let them feel how important they are.

2. Slow down and simplify

We are learning that children really can have too much of a good thing. Too many choices, too many toys, too many activities, and too much stimulation. They need downtime and we need it too! Make an effort this year to build in quiet time and breaks between activities. Cut down on the toys in the house so your children will notice and appreciate the ones they have. Encourage your kids to use their imagination, play board games, go for walks, build forts, and play outside.

3. Take time to listen

Life as a parent is incredibly busy. As the year goes on, it is easy to slip into the habit of rushing through conversations to get to the next task. Start this year with a new habit of setting aside time every day to really listen to each child. While putting your children to bed, driving home from school, or setting the dinner table, take time to ask thoughtful questions about their day and pay close attention to what they have to say.

4. Create structure

Children crave structure and parenting is less chaotic with structure in place. January is a great time to set up new structure in the home. Start a reward system to work on behavioral goals, create a chore chart to teach responsibility, or hang up a family calendar to keep track of weekly activities. Family rituals can also be a great way to provide comfort and a sense of belonging. Start a new ritual this year – examples might include Taco Tuesdays, a gratitude jar, Sunday dinner with grandparents, or family story time in the evenings.

5. Use your support system

Parenthood can be overwhelming and we often shoulder the burden as if we are on our own. Many parents forget that a web of support and resources exist around us. This year, look around and take advantage of your support system. When friends and family members offer childcare, take them up on it! Find a neighbor who is willing to be a “mommy’s helper” to have a second set of hands around. Attend parent support meetings and free parenting seminars. Get together with friends who are also parents and lean on them for advice and support.

6. Take care of yourself

Most importantly, make a conscious effort in 2019 to take better care of yourself so you can be the best possible parent to your children. It is tempting to put our own needs last when our children have so many needs to be met. Unfortunately, over time this causes parents to feel irritable, overwhelmed, and less emotionally involved. It is true that you cannot pour from an empty cup! Are you getting enough sleep? Exercising regularly? What about spending time with friends? This year it is important to build in time every day for the things that keep you going.

* Disclaimer: The responses provided by Dr. Asawa in the “Ask the Doc” columns are intended for general guidance and educational purposes. Specific advice cannot be provided without a thorough assessment and the establishment of a therapeutic relationship.