New Year’s Tweaks

As I listened to the radio and watched morning news shows on New Year’s Eve, all of the chit-chat revolved around New Year’s Resolutions. Were you making one? If so, what was it? And of course, the ongoing joke – how long would your resolution really last?  I’ve never been a consistent maker of New Year’s Resolutions, but as we head into the new year, I am encouraged to take a moment to look at my family’s normal routines and see if there is anything that needs a change in the new year. Here are some areas that came to mind. Maybe they’ll be familiar to you too.

1. Toys and Playtime – I’ll confess I was equally excited as my children about the idea of new toys for Christmas. I felt pretty burned out on our existing toys and activities and was ready for something new. Christmas did not disappoint and my kids got lots of great stuff, but already one week after the holiday, I’m reminded that new toys are not the answer to perfect playtimes. My kids still argued this week, they still acted bored, they didn’t magically turn into the self-playing, independent children I hoped the new toys would create.

Instead of looking to new toys as the answer, I want to take a page from our nanny training manual. We consistently train and remind our nannies that taking care of someone else’s children is a special job not to be taken lightly. We want nannies that focus completely on the child, looking for ways to inspire the child’s growth and development. This can happen through the games we choose, the tone of voice we use and the actions we ourselves model throughout our time in the home.  We understand this looks very different for different age groups, but the bottom line is the same. FOCUS on the child and what’s best for him/her. It’s not about the toys, it how you are interacting with the child that matters.  My New Year’s twist will be to take that training into my own home setting aside a portion of each day when I’m not going to multi-task work and play, but will truly FOCUS on my children and see what type of activity will best inspire them.

2. Household chores – On the opposite side of playtime, the New Year is a great chance to take a look at our kids’ abilities and skills and see if there is a new part of household life that they can help out with.  For our family, we’ve decided the kids’ are ready to add to their after-dinner duties by taking turns vacuuming under the table for crumbs.  This tweak has already started and I was again amazed at how quickly the kids jump on board when given a task, especially when the chore is phrased,”Who GETS to vacuum underneath the table tonight?”  Arguments have actually ensued over who’s turn it is to use the special crumb vacuum.

3. Media and reading time – This week, I read that the average American spends 34 hours watching tv each week!  I also read a challenge to have your children spend as much time reading each day as they do watching tv or using media.  As we enter the new year, I want to keep a close eye on my tv watching and how much my kids are watching. I feel pretty good about where we’re at, but it’d be great to know that my kids were reading just as much as they watching.

There are more areas I could think about tweaking: meal planning, extra-curricular activities, planning more (or less) playdates, but I think I’ll start with these 3.  I think that will be a great start to our New Year!

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