I’m going to be really honest about this parenting business, and the truth is, it is a lot of hard work. The past few weeks since school closed have seen me a scattered mom; brow beating one child, scolding another, motivating yet another, begging one and going putty, when one decides to hug me or ask, “Mommy, are you angry?” in that tone of voice only a child can ask a visibly angry adult.
Just before I started writing this article, I had to beg my younger daughter, who’s actually got everyone’s mumu button, not to throw a tantrum. The only times I can breathe easy is when the tube is on. Okay, now you know I use the TV a lot as a babysitter. The silence at those times is heavenly.
It was from one of their TV sprees that the older twins caught the bug of New Year resolutions, and oh boy, was I ready for them?! They had a list of things they wanted to change about me. I just laughed at them, even their daddy knows better than to try to change me.
To return the favour, I also had my own list, and I knew the perfect place to start, especially for my older son. The older twins are turning 10 this year, and I have told them it comes with added responsibility. I knew the kind of things I was capable of doing when I was their age, and they can’t handle half of it even now. That is about to change in the New Year and I have already started to give them a taste of what’s to come. You grow older, you have more responsibilities. Shikena.
So, that was how my children dragged me into making New Year resolutions that I thought I was done with. I wanted more from them, and that means I have to become a better parent. Isn’t it ironic that just as parenting is draining, it is also one of the most rewarding jobs in the whole wide world, as well as a character building one?
So, for this job that quite a lot rides on (a whole generation rides on it actually), here are some new year resolutions that parents can consider making:
One of top resolutions, I think parents can make is yell less.
If there is a degree in yelling, I’d probably qualify. I yell to the point where my older son freezes, and his sister is confused about what I want done. The younger twins don’t pay attention to my yelling. With all these reactions, what I want, I don’t get, so my yelling is totally useless. I might as well save my breath.
Apart from being useless, I found that yelling can do damage to children. Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh and the University of Michigan found that tweens and teens whose parents yelled for discipline had increased behavioural issues, including being violent. Another study linked yelling to lowering a child’s self-esteem and increasing the likelihood of depression.
If you think only the children are affected, then you are mistaken, because yelling is a such a negative energy that it sours the atmosphere and increases the family stress level. Do you need any more motivation to stop yelling?
2. Focus on your children’s positives:
It is always too easy to correct your child’s behaviour, especially in public, to worry about the fact that they are not minding their manners or playing rough, but hello ma/sir, when was the last time you high fived your child for a good deed or no deed? You might want to pay attention to their strengths in the coming year.
Even in my active world, sometimes, I just slow down and hug them and say, “I love you.”
My children are politicians, so I don’t hype them so much, because it ends up turning into a negotiation for a gift or a demand, and seeing that they are four, if I give in to one, then I have to sort out the other trio.
However, I will try to stop zeroing on their shortcomings and physically pat them on the back for the nice things they do. No, I’m not going to say anything.
This positive mindset may even give the kids a fresh opportunity to show up differently…positively. Celebrate their victories, no matter how insignificant they might seem.
3. Explain more:
I admit that I have a tendency to expect my children to know and do some things that I have not taught them, because…I really don’t why.
So, you can imagine my frustration when they fail to deliver. The fault is really mine for not teaching them and expecting them to have acquired the knowledge from inside of me, like they did their other body parts.
In order to avoid all of the frustrating scenarios, explanations are going to come in handy, as well as show and tell sessions. Heaven grant me patience.
In addition to that, parents should also know that our kids deserve to know the thinking behind our decisions and expectations, but should not be equal partners at the bargaining table. We are the parents and we make things happen…at least, until they are grown.
4. Worry less:
Interestingly, children are the major source of worry for their parents. Parents worry about how to provide the best for them, worry about how to keep them safe both online and in the real world, where it’s one horror story after the other.
But, we need to worry less. Let keeping our kids safe be a priority, but it shouldn’t consume our lives and we should let them actively explore what’s around them.
5. Commit to spending alone time with each child:
Parenting experts say that spending just 10 minutes per day of uninterrupted, one-on-one time with each of your children builds emotional connections, reduces negative behaviours, and makes children more cooperative throughout the day.
Be sure you’re fully present during that time – no electronics or mental to-do list- so your kids know they’re your top priority.
6. Make your family routines better:
With schools on break, we have routines only in the mornings and afternoons, but when school resumes, then it’s the whole day. It works, but I have to issue a lot of reminders and there is often a lot of arguments about whose turn it is to do what. That is a major headache, even though they often sort it, but I end up being dragged into it and then pushed to the side.
Anyways, this is the year to improve the routines and the magic word in my house is TV. You do what you need to do and then you can watch TV.
The most effective type of routine is a “When-Then” routine, which places a desirable activity (snacktime, TV time) at the tail end of a list of undesirable, but necessary, activities. And it’s always phrased the same way. For instance, you can inform your kids that “When the yucky stuff is out of the way (make bed, get dressed, tidy room) then breakfast is served.” Or, when your homework is done, lunch box cleaned out and backpack ready and by the door for the next day, then you can go out and play with your friends. Post the new routines in strategic places so your kids won’t forget, and you won’t have to remind them.
7. Treat yourself
Parents are giving so much of themselves that they are often miserable and exhausted as a result.
Kids benefit from happy parents, so if your balance is off-center, make a resolution for more “me” time away from the kids, in the happiness-making pursuits of friendships, creativity, exercise, sleep or just being alone — whatever you need more of in order to be a more effective and happier parent.
8. Get everyone helping around the house:
If you think I’m gleefully rubbing my palms together right now, I am. I can’t wait to have everyone pitching in more with the housework.
And if, as a parent, you have been doing most of the heavy lifting, while your children laze around, you should seriously consider giving each child some age-appropriate, meaningful responsibilities that contribute to the family’s daily life.
If you are not like me, you can start by holding a family meeting to make a list of all the jobs that must be done weekly and decide how to divide the workload.
9. Focus on team work:
No offence to daddies, but sometimes, I can’t help but feel as if my husband treats our kids more like his buddies then his kids, and I’m left alone to do all the scolding and parenting. If you find yourself in that boat, then we have a resolution to make. We need our partners to be the best.
Focusing on our relationships and building a cohesive team with our spouses makes us not only healthy role models for our children, but also decreases confusion and mixed messages.
This will make the kids less able to divide and conquer. You know, like when a kid keeps asking a pushover parent for permission, because they know the other one will say no. This can lead to an upset between the parents.
10. Do one thing at a time:
I know women are considered the ones with the floodlight mindset. They can take on so many things at the same time, and do it all. Mom, you may want to put your superwoman cape away at times, and focus on one task at a time, and be fully present for it, instead of being on autopilot all the time.
Dad, that can work for you too. Your children will thank you for it.
These are the resolutions, I think parents can benefit from in this New Year, as we move towards becoming better parents.
Happy New Year.
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