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Back to basics

The New Year is a great time to get the family back on track and get the year started in the right direction.

I don’t make New Year’s resolutions per say but I do like to set goals for myself and my family several times a year. I set exercise, health and career goals but I also set parenting goals. Nine times out of ten these goals bring me back to the parenting basics that most of us know and strive for. Sometimes we all get off course and this time of year with all of the holiday parties, school vacation and general rule bending can be the worse time for model parenting.

That being said, now that the holiday craze is over why not wipe the slate clean get back to basics and set some parenting goals.

The first thing I did with my kids after they awoke from a super fun family New Year's Eve party was to take down the holiday decorations. This helped remind them that the holidays are over and so are the late nights, presents and bad food choices. Once the house was in order we rewrote our house rules. Since our list gets pointed out so many times a day it was a bit tattered and needed a good rewrite anyway.  My daughter sat down with my son and decided what rules needed to be added. It started getting a tad militant so we added some fun ones too like remember to laugh.

The other back to basics that needed to be tightened up was bedtime. I reminded the kids that we had two days until it was back to school time and waking up at 8:30 a.m. was not going to cut it. I told them we would be going to bed at school night hours and waking at school day hours in preparation for Jan. 3. New Year’s Eve notwithstanding, this should be done two to three days before the kids go back to school. This is one of the harder back to basics for many families but it is also one of the most important.

Next we tackled the nutrition slide that inevitably occurs for all of us this time of year. We don’t do much junk in our house so this wasn’t too disastrous for us to reclaim but it still needed some tweaking. I started by getting rid of the cakes, cookies and other treats that accumulated from well wishers, party leftover and baking experiments and reacquainted my kids with Clementine’s, salmon and broccoli.

Ok, ok I sound like a big bore with all of my house rules, sleep schedules and healthy eating but these parenting basics have served us well and I am not about to abandon them because they are boring. My kids have grown up with these basics and come back to them easily when asked. Having a strong foundation the kids can rely on also helps them during holidays, vacations and other special occasions when they may want to bend the rules a bit.

So now that we are back on track and have reestablished our parenting basics it’s time to think of some goals as a family. For some of you these may be your parenting resolutions. I am going to start with three this month and see if I can add a few this spring.

Parenting goal #1: Lower my voice. I have never been a yeller. Yelling wasn’t allowed in my house growing up and my parents didn’t yell. Somewhere along the way I let my voice get too loud. Then my kid’s voices got too loud and even my husband’s voice got too loud. My breaking point was when my neighbor’s daughter saw me outside and said she knew my daughter couldn’t play right now because she heard me yelling at her. Bad, bad, bad.

Parenting goal #2: Play with my kids more. This may seem like a no brainer but when I say play with my kids more I mean get down on the floor, get into the game and be a kid. I do so much for them that I often forget to do stuff with them. On that end, my daughter got her first chess set this Christmas and I asked her to teach me so we can play. My son and I played catch with the football this afternoon and the whole family played soccer.

Parenting goal #3: Be a good friend role model. Both kids are starting to nurture friendships and with that comes the rules that friendships need. I can very easily show them how to be a good friend not only with my friends (who I vow to see more this year) but with my best friend, my husband. They can see me speaking kindly to him, saying please and thank you, praising him and doing nice things for him for no reason. They can see my concern for him and they can see me love him. In the end, this not only helps my kids with their friendships but it also helps my marriage. Life gets crazy and for some reason it is the people we love the most who get the short end of the stick when we are stressed, tired or upset.

So there you have it my parenting back to basics and some goals for the New Year. I have the back to basics up and running and will tackle my parenting goals all year long but hopefully master one or two so I can add a few mid spring.

Melisa Passanisi Thorne January 06, 2012 at 03:55 PM
Great advice. I especially like No. 3. I think it's so important to show appreciation to you spouse (best friend) openly. It really demonstrates to the children that their home environment is loving and kind.

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