Top 10 family New Year's resolutions
Don’t sweat the small stuff
Toddler tantrums, pre-school meltdowns – every age and stage has its challenges. But rather than simply kicking off in the heat of the moment, save your energy and choose your battles.
By actively deciding which issues are important and which are better ignored, you can step back from an emotionally charged situation and simply observe what your child is trying
to tell you.
When you engage in
a debate about small things, it can become a battle of the wills, pitting parent against child.
So next time
a debate looks to be brewing, lighten the mood with an outrageous alternative, suggest you all do 25 star jumps, or ask your child to come up with the solution; you might just be surprised at the unique wisdom your toddler has to offer.
Book a table
Getting the whole family around the dinner table all at once can be hard, but it’s a great way to introduce new foods to your little ones, teach table manners, and find time to talk about what they’ve done during the day.
“Family mealtime is very important,” says Dr David Janicke, an associate professor leading the Family Mealtime project at the University of Florida.
“Routine is really important for kids. A lot of research shows that families who eat together for three meals a week or more have more connectedness.”
Spend time outdoors
Getting in touch with nature – literally – has emotional and physical benefits for your children.
A recent report by the National Trust demonstrates that it’s important to get children outside, building dens, picking flowers, climbing trees, and connecting with nature.
“Natural places are life-enhancing environments where children can reach new depths of understanding about themselves, their abilities, and their relationship with the world around them,” explains Tim Gill, a leading expert in children’s play and childhood.
Research also shows that parents are the most powerful influence over a child’s exposure to nature and the countryside. So pull on your coats and wellies, start splashing in puddles and explore the big, wide world together.
Play the ‘let’s get organised!’ game
With meals to prepare, clothes to mend, school runs to, well, run, it can become all too easy to feel overwhelmed by daily demands. The key is to set the tone for the year with a little organisation at the start.
Invest in a family diary to highlight important dates – then make sure you use it! Then set some routines: children adore ‘chores’, so make it their job to pack up the bath toys before they get out of the bath or to help you put groceries away after the supermarket run.
It might be a game at first, but as children get older, the routines will not only help you keep some order around the house, but studies have shown learning to follow instructions helps children develop crucial attention skills and increases their ability to concentrate on tasks in the long-term too.
Go back to basics
According to a recent study, a child born today will have spent an entire year looking at TV, video, and computer screens by the age of seven.
While modern life means we are surrounded by technology, screen time has been linked to wider waistlines, higher blood pressure and a life-long risk of diabetes and heart disease.
On the other hand, play – especially play that is child-led – helps children gain confidence in sharing, negotiating, resolving conflicts and learning how to work in groups.
Whether it’s deciding to make a robot from scratch or pretending to be pirates on the open sea, creative and imaginative play is a simple joy that has brilliant benefits socially and mentally. So make a resolution to have a no-TV night at least once a week and do creative things as a family instead, preferably following your child’s lead.
If you need some inspiration, check out our fab craft ideas, from paper birds to cuddly penguins.