Whether we stick with New Year’s resolutions or not, it’s hard not to reflect on the previous year and look ahead to making some adjustments. While we are contemplating lifestyle changes such as diet and exercise, should changes in our parenting approach also be considered?
Like many of you, I have spent lots of time with family members of all ages during the past month. For me this time of year unites both sides of the Cioffi-Obenhaus gang with a holiday party in Chicago, bringing three generations together for food and fun. Such gatherings highlight the challenges that holidays can bring to families of young children. As always, my greatest heroes are the parents hanging in there as their responsibilities grow during the holiday season, juggling work, child care, shopping, decorating, and food prep. Throw in the challenge of children with heightened stimulation and sugar overload, and parents quickly gain superhero status in my eyes.
So, here are my top three suggestions for any parenting new year’s resolutions:
1. Make sure that you and your children are getting plenty of rest. Young children need close to 12 hours of sleep in a 24 hour period, and it is not unusual for children under five to still need a nap. Eliminating fatigue goes a long way toward improving patience (yours) and coping skills (your children’s).
2. Choose nutritious foods for healthy meals and snacks. Celebration foods like cookies and cakes should be limited to holidays and special occasions. You know best which works for you and your family—either by cutting down on the sweet treats or eliminating them altogether.
3. Spend more time outdoors. Whether it is in a city park or a walk in the woods, fresh air and exercise should be part of your new year’s reset and will help with the first two suggestions, improving healthy appetites and better sleeping habits.
All that said, don’t get too discouraged if getting back into the regular routine after the holiday frenzy dies down, takes a bit of time; it will be worth it.
Sending my best wishes to all for a happy, healthy, and peaceful new year!