Most of the time we set ourselves fitness, career and personal relationship goals. But what about throwing in some parenting resolutions as well? After all, if there’s one thing we’ve learnt about being a parent is that there’s always room for improvement.
And that’s also the best thing about being a mum or dad ― knowing that you’ll learn from your mistakes, tomorrow or in the coming year.
Starting today, make a promise to include these very doable resolutions to your parenting New Year to-do list. Because at the end of the day, what could be more important than being a good parent, right?
Resolution #1 Leave work at work
Parenting is a 24/7 gig, but your day job isn’t. Keep that in mind the next time you’re still sitting at your desk at 7pm on a workday, instead of being home with your little ones. After her kids arrived, Rohana Naidu did everything to make sure she didn’t have to stay in the office past the normal hours. “I make a list of what I have to get done every morning, so as to stay focused. I even bring food from home and have a quick lunch, so I wouldn’t waste time heading out,” says the mum of two. “If there’s something I can’t get done by 6pm, I will log on from home after the kids go to bed and finish it up.” As much as you love your career, don’t forget that being a parent should always be your most important job. You owe it to your kids to be around as much as possible if you want to establish a strong relationship with them.
Resolve to prepare a nutritious meal at home at least once a week – or maybe on the weekends, when you are less busy. Your kiddos will acquire better eating habits.
Resolution #2 Eat at home more often
One of the best childhood memories for many of us is sitting down as a family to tuck into mum or dad’s famous homemade curries, soups or stir-fries. These days, thanks to our busy schedules, family dinners and homecooked meals are not as common as they used to be. A quick dinner at your neighbourhood coffee shop or a fast food joint is not only quick and cheap, but also convenient on hectic weekdays. While cooking at home is challenging if you don’t have help, resolve to prepare a nutritious meal at home at least once a week – or maybe on the weekends when you are less busy. Your kiddos will acquire better eating habits and you will also save some money along the way.
Resolution #3 Exercise together as a family
While we’re on the topic of instilling healthy habits in your kids, don’t forget the benefits of keeping fit as well. Don’t make it a chore though, such as organising a super-early morning jog or picking an activity someone in the family doesn’t like. It also doesn’t have to be as hard-core as a trek up Bukit Timah Hill, unless it’s something the brood enjoy. Staying active can be as simple as Saturday morning swims in your condo, or a long walk through the Botanic Gardens followed by a scrumptious brunch at a café nearby. Or maybe even visiting one of the many farms, parks and water-play areas around the island. It’s all about being out and about, enjoying some fresh air as well as each other’s company.
Resolution #4 Be less of a slave to your devices
We know the multitude of benefits that come with technology. For one, we can keep track of junior when they’re out via WhatsApp messages. There are even apps these days that help us with being more organised and ease our parenting challenges. As they become part and parcel of our life, it’s hard to completely switch off from technology. So, we’re all guilty of reaching out to our devices to check it just “one more time”. However, this often eats into family time. While it’s hard to go on a full digital detox (and kudos to you if you have!), a more practical approach is to allocate certain times during the day to get off your devices. “My husband came up with a rule in our house that on weekdays, after dinner, we are both off our phones and only focus on our son until we put him to bed,” says Grace Chua. “It was hard at first, but we kept each other in check and soon, it was no longer an issue. I also enjoyed the break from staring at my phone so much.”
Resolution #5 Talk less, listen more
As a parent, you’ll have a lot of life lessons to impart to your offspring, but don’t make the mistake of shutting them down while you’re doing so. Kids need to feel heard if you want them to share more of themselves with you. Keep the communication lines open between yourself and junior by being a better listener in the coming year. When you’re all ears, you will hear and see so much more in your child, so that you’ll be better able to respond.
Resolution #6 Keep on honing your parenting skills
Your job as a parent is never done. You will always be mum and dad to junior, even when he is in his mid 40s. So, keep educating yourself on how to be a good parent to your children at their various life stages. Read parenting resources and get advice from parent friends on how they deal with certain situations. The better you are at parenting, the more lessons your children will pick up from you on how to be a good parent themselves.
Children need to know that their good deeds don’t go unnoticed. You don’t have to make a big deal out of it.
Resolution #7 Catch your kids being good
It’s always so easy to call your kids out when they’ve done something bad. But have you praised them when they have done something good? Children need to know that their good deeds don’t go unnoticed. You don’t have to make a big deal out of it, but letting them know that others are watching and are proud of them will make them want to repeat that act.
Resolution #8 Find new ways to interact with your child
As your child grows, she will develop new interests and it’s up to you to find out what they are and show some interest in them as well. It’s the easiest and most effective way to bond with your child. Sometimes it may not be your cup of tea, but take it as a learning experience for yourself. You will be amazed at how much more your normally monosyllabic tween is willing to open up when you’re playing a round of his favourite video game with him.
Resolution #9 Commit to being more eco-conscious
If you want to leave the world a healthier and happier state for future generations, then it’s time to be more environmentally proactive. Start with baby steps, since it’s all about changing behaviour and mindsets. Get the kiddos involved as well, so it becomes part of their lifestyle. Separate the plastics in the trash and place them in the designated bins under your HDB or condo. Switch off appliances when they’re not in use and wash a stack of dishes in a basin that’s filled with water instead of cleaning them individually under running water.
Resolution #10 Be more than just a parent
You will always be mum and dad to someone, but that doesn’t have to define you. As you continue being an awesome parent to your child, don’t forget who you were before the kiddos came along. Reconnect with your old self by doing some of the things the pre-baby you used to do. If it means taking some time to do it by yourself, then do so without feeling any guilt. By the way, don’t forget to be a husband or wife as well. Kids need to see their parents in a happy, healthy and loving marriage, so that they know what one looks like for future reference. So this year, don’t forget to make yourself and your spouse a priority as well.
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