Parenting

Happy New Year!! 2012 will be about engaging

Now that the glitter and fake snow have settled and the kids are swept up in play with all their Christmas goodies, I have decided to steal a few moments to reflect on this past year and make some mental and physical notes for the New Year to come.  Inspired by a blog post I recently read by Dr. Laura Markham, my resolutions will be less about me and more about us.

I doubt I’m unique in my typical resolution making, which goes something like this:  I make a few “doable” goals, write them down (because that makes me take them more seriously), then I share my goals with a few people (because that makes me accountable and then I take them even more seriously), I get off to a smashing start, then a few months into the year those doable goals morph into “just one more thing to add to my already long list of things to do and I’m in control and I can do what I want!” So, instead of making a list of things to check off as “done”, I’ll create a list of things I’d like to continue to do or want to do more of throughout the year that benefit our family unit and enhance my relationship with my kids, husband, friends and family. My thoughts are still developing and I’m sure my plans and ideas will evolve with the year, but below are two areas that will certainly top the list.

Something to continue:  Think positively

It’s insane how well this works and to make it more enticing, it’s free! No drugs necessary, no therapy, no laundry list of material goods to purchase; just you and your thoughts.  Maintaining this mindset is very important to me and even more important since I became a parent. Our kids reflect us, the good and the bad, whether we like it or not.  Now, do I have times when I don’t feel positive? Sure. I’m not a robot. However, I am joyful a heck of a lot of time and it’s because I choose to be.  I have experienced enough pain and sorrow to qualify for a seat in the negative chair, but I don’t want it.  I want to embrace graciousness and joy, focusing on what I do have.  We have struggles like most American families today, but my reactions to those struggles and the positive attitude I choose to have are the most expensive gifts I can ever give my children. Like a genuine belly laugh, positive energy is contagious.  So, in 2012, take control of your thoughts (which you have absolute total control over and can’t blame anyone else for).  Stop focusing on what you don’t have and focus more on what you do have. Immerse yourself in things that make you happy, surround yourself with people who bring you joy, and share with your community the upbeat vibe you know you have.

Something to work on:  Come to terms with screens

In this digital age where a phone is no longer a phone, but a toy, web browser, and messaging center all in one, where conversations center on apps and video games, the latest Netflix movies, or your neighbors’ cousin’s Facebook status; it’s not out of the realm of possibilities that we spend more time looking at screens then we do the faces of the people we love and adore.   Lately, I have been feeling conflicted and uncomfortable about all the time we each spend individually on our screens so I did some soul searching and I came to several conclusions:

1.)  I need to rethink what a “healthy” family looks like. Somewhere along the line, through a combination of influences from movies and books and witnessing other families in action growing up, I have picked up this idyllic image of a healthy family.  In my mind, as our day winds down, our family would all eat dinner together at a table that is beautifully decorated (or at least with some fresh flowers or herbs from the garden), discuss issues that are important to us or society in general, then we’d break away to play games  or read books or make stuff together. Not in a high brow, drink tea with your pinky up way, but in a fun, easy going, life is grand kind of way.

2.) I have a guilty conscience.  I spend as much time (or more) than the kids interacting with all my screens.  Granted, I plan our outings, research for educational opportunities, and communicate with our friends and family that way, but still. I know I choose to do something screen related more often than I *should*.  Hubby may have us all beat though, because that’s what he does all day long for work, which is why I feel a twinge of irritation ( I said a twinge) if he chooses to watch a movie solo at night when we could all be together.  I also have memories of feeling like I wasn’t interesting enough to eat dinner with when I was a child because my Dad would make his plate at dinner and take it straight into the living room to watch television as he ate leaving my brothers, my mom and me behind at the table.  Husband doesn’t do anything close to this, but my personal experience as a child fuels my concern and I feel protective. I do not want my children to feel like we are choosing a screen over interacting with them.

However, 2012 will be more about enjoying screen time together, appreciating what our various devices do offer us, yet remembering to shut them down every once in a while.  Screen time can offer a way to decompress, a new age way to enjoy some alone time if you will.  Because husband works from home and we home school, we do have an unbelievable amount of lovely, quality face time throughout the day. So when night falls and everyone begins to settle in, I will remember that a screen will not undo all the togetherness we’ve had for the day.

What are your parenting goals for the New Year?

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