By Emily Morrice (bio)
January is the time to make resolutions, and as Parents it’s the perfect time to make some goals for our families. The burdens of parenting can be heavy enough, so we aren’t talking about a perfectionist’s list that will hang over your head for the next twelve months. We’re talking about intentionally reflecting on family rhythms and parenting habits from last year, and analysing graciously what you’d like to change or aim for in the year to come. No two families are the same, so these resolutions are intentionally broad and flexible, but you may find some you’d like to adopt for your tribe.
1. This year, we will find something we all enjoy doing and make it a regular activity.
This becomes easier as the children grow older, but even with toddlers; there are some family activities that are more inclusive than watching your child play or reading to them. Finding activities for the whole family to enjoy is a great bonding experience, and as parents we’ll feel we aren’t merely serving or leading our children, but living life alongside them. For our family, it’s playing in the snow, going on walks, and watching Planet Earth or other nature documentaries. We’ve also been known to enjoy a good Lego building session. Often with young children, parents accept that our enjoyment isn’t the priority, but it can be. And once you find that activity, aim to make it a regular one – whether weekly or monthly.
2. This year, we will make Date Nights a priority.
Especially with babies and young children, this can be such a hard thing to prioritize, but it’s truly the most important. Your children may not go down to bed as well for a sitter, or they make eat too many treats which you’ll pay for the next day if they stay at Grandma’s for the night, but it’s worth it to prioritize your marriage. Studies show that even infants react to arguments and raised voiced around them. If your relationship isn’t thriving, your baby notices, and as your children grow they’re affected all the more. Taking time out of your hectic lives to be together – without your kids! – demonstrates to your children that you value each other and not just them. The more consistent Date Night becomes, the easier it will be to leave your little one(s) with a sitter (for them and for you), so there’s added initiative to make it a regular habit!
3. This year, we will read aloud to our kids more and watch fewer screens.
Television can be a great educational tool and helpful distraction when parents need a breather, but if you’ve found you and your children depend on it too much, consider reading aloud or audio books as an alternative. If your child asks for a television show, offer to read to them or find an audio book for them instead. They’re still enjoying a form of entertainment, but one that doctors have no reservations about. Remember, paediatricians in Canada strongly recommend no screens before age two, and after age two, no more than two hours per day. Reading to your children also gives them the desire to learn to read, which will be helpful when they’re school aged.
4. This year, we will swap sweet or caffeinated drinks for water.
Health-related goals are often the first to fall, so instead of something drastic, let’s focus on one element of our nutritional intake – drinks. Instead of that third cup of coffee or sugary fruit juice, aim to drink water instead. We had always diluted our children’s juices with ½ water, but when we stayed with friends whose kids didn’t drink juice at all, our eyes were opened. After three weeks of not having juice, our kids stopped asking for it and asked for water instead. Now our grocery bill is smaller and we’re all drinking less sugar. Win-win!
5. This year, we will consume responsibly.
Having children really opens your eyes to all of the things you buy, because suddenly you’re buying double! With this in mind, aim to be more conscious this year with the food, clothing, and products you buy. Budget friendly ways to do this are shopping second hand, eating food in season, and cloth diapering. As your family grows, your carbon footprint doesn’t have to!
A new year is upon us, ripe with possibility. As parents, we’ll see our children reach many milestones this year and experience lots of Firsts. As you enter 2018, perhaps some of these resolutions will resonate with you and become part of your new family rhythm. Regardless, we wish you a very Happy New Year, full of health and joy!
Emily is a freelance writer, blogger, and mom of three little ones. When she’s not traveling the world with her family, Montreal is home, where you can find her exploring the local markets, making a mess in her kitchen, and brewing a cup of tea. Find her on Instagram (@emmorrice) and check out her lifestyle blog, Our Nest In The City, where she documents it all.