The New Year brings a new opportunity to make important (and healthy) changes in your life. Why not make goals that benefit everyone in your home? These 20 parenting resolutions will infuse positive change throughout your family for years to come. Get ready for all the inspiration you need to be your best parent beginning January 1!
If you find you're feeling snappier than usual, it's probably because you're stressed out from doing it all 24/7. Stress from too much responsibility can cause health concerns like fatigue, depression and even cardiovascular disease. This New Year, instead of reacting out of frustration (like when your kids throw a mega temper tantrum!), commit to slowing down and focusing on your breathing. A calmer, more thoughtful approach can have lasting positive effects for everyone in your family.
Talking to your child is important, but it's easy to forget that communication is a two-way street. In the New Year, resolve to ask your child as many questions as they ask you. Focus on actively listening to their answers (which means asking follow-up questions that show you're paying attention). Listening can be an amazing tool to understanding your kids and—bonus—it can help you develop an even stronger bond with your little ones.
We're not telling you how to raise your kids (promise), but the evidence doesn't lie: Bedtime is for winners. Not only will you be less frazzled if the kids go to bed at a set time each night, but also studies have shown that a regular bedtime helps children thrive and can improve their behavior. (Now who doesn't want that?) The added structure can also help lock in more quality time for you and your partner. Try setting an alarm that goes off at a certain time to signal "heads in beds."
It's never too early to teach your kids how to give back. Not only does being charitable help someone in need, it also makes the world a better place. Activities like donating (maybe excess toys?), hosting fundraisers and taking part in community-service projects all benefit the volunteers, as well as the people and places they're serving. Sure, you could talk about giving, but actually involving your family in a project that gives back will build their compassion and show them how wonderful it is to make a difference.
Meditation is an amazing (and free) resource that provides numerous mental and physical health benefits for your family. Finding a few minutes a day to slow down, breathe and quiet your minds can enhance your overall mindfulness, lower stress and create meaningful rituals. This practice will also provide very necessary electronics-free time, which we could all use more of.
Knowing more words is an important first step in self-expression. Not only will children (and adults) find new, meaningful ways to share their thoughts and ideas, but they'll also sound super smart, too. You can make vocabulary building a fun, daily exercise with your kids and even include words from other languages, giving them a chance to explore the world one syllable at a time.
Another way to build language is to read! Studies suggest that parents who read on their own for enjoyment will have children that also enjoy reading. Make time to read together but also don't be afraid to schedule some quiet, reading-by-yourself time as well. The more your kids see you engaging with books (newspapers and magazines count, too), the more likely they are to develop their own love of the written word.
Art isn't just a fun way to make a mess, it's also a great way to build your child's cognitive and imaginative skills. Make a resolution in the New Year to get your children in a creative mindset more often while helping them to explore their own artistic style. Just remember to prep your project area in advance (disposable tablecloths save lives, y'all) to make cleanup a less troublesome task.
It's difficult to find time to exercise while raising kids (we so get it). Instead of focusing on finding a gym with a daycare, try exercising with your family. Family fitness is a fantastic way to have fun together while supporting one another's healthy habits. Take advantage of outdoor spaces and parks to stay fit for free, and encourage your kids to look at more than their favorite iPad screen (no judgment).
Nothing is more fun for a child than getting a chance to be in charge. Giving them opportunities to decide what games to play, what food to eat and what clothes to wear can bolster their self-esteem and let them show you how capable they truly are (because you've done such an awesome job of raising them).
It's never too early to teach your kids the fine art of saying thanks. A season of giving means a season of handwritten cards to show friends and family members how appreciated their gifts truly were. If your kids are still too young to write thank-you cards, they can make a small art project (like a colorful handprint) that expresses their gratitude, instead.
Children have their eyes on you all the time. It's easy to forget that you're constantly on stage as a parent. Since kids are amazing imitators, it's important to behave how you'd want them to. Look at your phone less and at people's faces more. Try to model healthy lifestyle habits that you want your children to pick up. No one is perfect, but it's perfectly OK to show your kids the best version of yourself to inspire them to do the same.
Most kids aren't eating enough vegetables, but (aside from dietary restrictions) that's totally fixable. Make veggies fun by letting kids help you prep meals. Try out new recipes that use produce as the main ingredient. Kids also love the opportunity to choose, so put out a platter of freshly cut fruits and vegetables to give kids an exciting way to experiment with tastes and textures, and develop a love for healthy foods. If all else fails, adding a yummy dip like hummus or guacamole can entice kids to give veggies a try.
Friendships are crucial for children (and parents). A great way to get your kids to be more social is to set play dates with children their age to help them make new (and hopefully lasting) connections. Bonus points if you like the parents, too! Take note of who they gravitate toward, and make sure to involve those children in future fun plans. If your child is on the shy side, find ways to involve them in group activities they enjoy so they'll feel safe and open to forming new bonds.
Every day is a learning experience for our children. While it's tempting to turn a child's mistakes into a lesson by pointing out what they've done wrong, it can actually diminish their self-esteem and prevent them from taking chances on themselves in the future. Instead, try using positive reinforcement to let your child know what they've done right. A child who gets approval and support from their parents is far more likely to succeed and will keep on working toward making their parents proud.
You might not live close enough to your parents and siblings for them to visit as often as you'd like (or you might not want them to visit at all), but children definitely need the opportunity to develop their own special relationships with family members. If possible, invite the grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins over more often—or at least call them regularly (video chat is a total thing!) to help solidify important extended-family bonds for your child.
Family time often consists of everyone getting together to do a predetermined activity—which is great—but kids crave one-on-one time with their parents, too. Parent-child dates allow kids to feel special and bask in having all the attention focused on them while building their self-esteem and your memories together.
No one can tell you how to parent your kids. However, there is evidence that helicopter parenting can trigger anxiety in children and set them up for difficulties later in life. If you recognize that your parenting style may be a bit "extra," set a goal for you to take baby steps in the New Year to relinquish a tiny bit of control. A little letting go can be a healthy way to boost your kids' confidence in themselves and lets you see that it's OK to let your children experience the world outside of your safe bubble.
The science is in, moms, and apparently, so are jokes. A well-developed sense of humor has been shown to help kids become more well-rounded, so set the example and start tickling their funny bone. Sharing laughs while kids are young can go a long way toward keeping the parent-child connection going strong from the threenage era through the teenager years (and beyond). Plus, who doesn't like to laugh? The answer: no one.
If it feels like your family needs you all the time, you're not alone. Most moms admit to feeling as if they have to manage everything in their children's lives, and that kind of pressure is exhausting. Listen up, moms: Your kids will benefit from you taking personal time for yourself. They'll be challenged to develop their own problem-solving skills, and you'll be a much more patient, energized parent when you're investing time in yourself as well as your family.
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