I have to admit to you guys, I love this time of year. We just finished Christmas, and Mardi Gras is right around the corner. I know not everyone likes the cold, but I have some Wisconsin blood flowing through my veins, so I don’t mind the weather. It’s a perfect time to stay at home and spend time with our families and loved ones.
One thing I try to think about is resolutions. I know this is an old cliché. Everyone vows to run ten miles a day, give up junk food and save the planet. While these goals are worthwhile, they often fall by the wayside within a few weeks. So this year, I want to challenge you to do something different. While I often think of great ideas that will improve my relationships, health, and my community, the execution oftentimes gets in the way. Today, we are going to talk about some ideas that you and your kids can do that are realistic, fun, and will bring you together more as a family.
First let’s think about some goals as a whole family. In this day and age of running to school, practice, homework, video games, and smartphones, we miss some of the most important memories of childhood. Meals with your family, playing board games, reading books together, and even talking about your day is so important to the relationships in a family. I recently heard a wonderful speaker describe this as “margin.” That is creating time to just spend with your family and not running around crazy! I had a parent try and tell me that their “perfect” child who was suspended from school could only have learned the language and behaviors from other bad influences at school. Wrong! Children learn their basics from their parents and family when it comes to respect for adults, each other, property, and themselves. Sure, they can be influenced by others, but that’s where parenting steps in as well. Developing a trusting relationship between children and parents is vital to their success. If a child is having a difficult time at school or with another person, they need to be able to come to you and talk. If you feel you and your child don’t have that relationship, then work on it. Talk to them, spend time, and be good role models for your children.
When it comes to some specifics, let’s look at some New Year’s resolutions that help the body and mind. First, let’s teach ourselves and our kids to practice good hygiene. Washing hands, covering you nose and mouth when you cough and sneeze, trimming your nails and brushing your teeth are basic, but oftentimes forgotten, personal hygiene traits. Not only can you significantly reduce the spread of illnesses, but you feel better and are more confident about yourself.
Along similar lines is our diet. I understand how hard it can be to have the mealtime food battle (I have three kids under ten, so we go through it almost every night). But the idea that “my child has to have something (even if it’s not healthy)” before they go to bed, or my child only eats cheese is full of junk. First, who buys the food that is currently in the house? What do you as a parent eat at meals and snacks? How do you respond when your child refuses to eat the meal you prepared? Healthy eating habits for a child are all about expectations! If you get unhealthy food, you expect unhealthy food! You will be surprised that the answer is not “my child is a picky eater.”
So take the New Year to focus on family relationships, personal hygiene, and the food we put into our bodies, and try and create some margin. You might be surprised how much better you and your children feel!