January isn’t my favorite month of the year (not even close). Christmas is over, spring is a LONG way off, and in Michigan, all we have to look forward to are months of snow and cold. I have to admit, though, that I DO get excited about the New Year. I don’t make a bunch of resolutions, but there’s something so hopeful and refreshing about a clean start, a chance to push the reset button and try something new.
Although most people think of diets, organization, and spending habits when they’re setting goals and resolutions, the New Year is actually a perfect time to reassess what’s working or not working in the areas of parenting and family. Spending some time asking ourselves hard questions, thinking honestly about problem areas, and establishing realistic priorities can reap tangible benefits for our families in 2017.
Here are some general categories to consider:
Screen Time – In my family, we usually start the school year strong with strict boundaries about screen time, but by December, we’ve often relaxed way too much. January is a good time to reinstate the rules, or make new ones if you see a problem. As parents, we have a responsibility to make sure our kids have a healthy relationship with their screens.
Questions to ask – Are we scrolling through our phones at the dinner table? Is my teen spending more time with his phone than with his family? Is my toddler watching more than one or two shows in a day?
Activities – With five kids, the conversation about who is doing which activities during what season is ongoing and never ending! My husband and I have made a lot of mistakes in this area, but we’ve learned from them. After many years of being burdened with our kids’ activities, we try to always remember that we’re not raising professional soccer players, dancers, or baseball players. However, we are raising future mothers and fathers who need to grow up with plenty of family time. There’s nothing inherently wrong with sports or clubs, but if they keep your family from spending time together, maybe something needs to change.
Questions to ask – Are we able to eat dinner together several times a week? Are our weekends spent at sporting events instead of at church and fun family activities? Are our kids’ sports a strain on our finances?
Possessions – My husband and I just moved our family to a new home in a new state, which gave us the opportunity to really evaluate how much “stuff” our kids own – toys, clothes, books, shoes, etc. We decided to severely limit the number of boxes we would take with us. The result has been so freeing and painless! Our kids have not missed one thing that we sold or donated. In fact, our six-year old actually plays with the few toys that we kept – they’re easier to get out, easier to put away, and she knows exactly what she has. Before, I felt like we were drowning in stuff that my kids didn’t care about and couldn’t keep organized. Instead of a blessing, our possessions were a curse that kept us stressed and disorganized. Perhaps your family would benefit from a serious look at the stuff that you’re storing in your house.
Questions to ask – Do my kids have toys they never play with and clothes they never wear? Am I spending a lot of time organizing and cleaning up my kids’ stuff? Do my kids constantly ask for new toys/clothes?
Our kids are only with us for a short time. As parents, we need to continually evaluate what’s working or not working in our family life. Seemingly small changes can make a big impact on our children and bring peace and health and balance in 2017.