With a fresh year before us, it seems the best time to re-think our current habits and rhythms as parents, and to reflect on what we’d like to change and improve in the next twelve months. Maybe you’re too hard on yourself as a parent and you need to be cautious in this practice – resolutions aren’t about setting yourself up to fail by creating impossible standards, or about tearing down yourself or your family for what last year looked like. Resolutions are simply a time to hope and plan for the year ahead in an intentional way, and if there’s any room for improvement, so be it! What are your resolutions for the New Year? Here are a few you may want to add to your list, if they’ll work for your family.
Establish concrete family time
Life is busy, and very few of us have the amount of time together that we’d like. Instead of guilting yourself about the lack of time available, plan intentionally for some blocks of space each week. You may not be able to have dinner every single evening together as a family, but could you plan to have Saturday evening dinner every single week? Start there. Once you and your partner have found a time each week that you’ll dedicate exclusively to family togetherness, protect it no matter what. For our family, it’s Friday evening dinners. My children typically eat at 5pm, and my husband isn’t finished work by that time, so during the week he misses dinner with the kids, but Fridays we push dinner later and then play a family board game afterwards. It’s nothing special, but for us, it’s sacred.
Find a babysitter you trust and make date nights a monthly event
If you haven’t had a chance to get out, together, without the baby since she’s been born, it’s time to start that habit! Even nursing mothers can be away from their babies for 2-3 hours, so don’t neglect your relationship with your partner this year. It can be expensive and difficult to find child care that you trust, especially if you don’t have willing family nearby, but once per month is do-able for most families, and it’s so worth it! Your child finds such security knowing his parents are a united front, happy, and in love, but relationships take work, and you need to invest in yours to keep it healthy.
Change up your beverages
Starting some form of diet is almost on everyone’s list, and it’s usually forgotten by February. Why? Because overhauling the entire way you consume food and drink in a cold turkey fashion such as a New Year’s Resolution is often unattainable. Instead, focus on something the whole family could improve on – beverages. With little children, I drank much more coffee than was good for me, and not nearly enough water. When our children were little we also allowed juice which was such needless sugar. Slowly, our family has reformed our drinking habits and we’ve seen such a change in our general health, energy, and behaviour. We started diluting the children’s juice with water 50/50, and gradually gave more water than juice until the water only has a splash of juice. One day we just stopped buying juice altogether. The beverage options are now milk or water, and after a few weeks they grew used to it. We’re all such creatures of habit! Every juice box has approximately 20 grams of sugar, or about five tea spoons of sugar. That’s something to reconsider allowing your children on a daily basis. And while you’re at it, try to limit yourself to one cup of coffee per day, or switch to decaf and see how much you really notice the difference.
Take more family photos
Most of us have phones with decent cameras within, but we’re usually the ones behind the camera snapping away at our little cuties. How often do we ourselves get in front of the camera? Or better yet, when was the last time the whole family was in the frame? Family photos are so precious, especially years down the road. You’ll be so glad you took the time to take them or have them taken. If you can’t afford a family photographer, just as a friend and then offer to take hers for her, or even use yourself timer! Professional photos are really incredible, but they aren’t in our annual budget. Still we try to have them taken every few years, and in between we just ask anyone around to snap a few pictures for us. You’ll love looking back on your growing family in the future, so start the habit this year!
Plan an adventure
Leaving the comfort of your own home for a new destination is such a great way to bond as a family. This year, prioritize a family adventure of some sort. It could be renting an Airbnb in your own city, camping, going on a Road Trip, or even flying somewhere abroad. Whatever your budget, family trips of all sorts have the same goal – to recalibrate as a family and experience new things, together.
None of us are perfect parents and there’s always room to better ourselves. It’s good to have high goals for your family and to work hard to achieve them, so long as you’re also giving yourself and your partner lots of grace along the way. May 2018 be the best year yet for your family, full of togetherness, new experiences, health and joy. Happy New Year!