'Tis the season where people are thinking through hopes, dreams and what they hope to change in the year ahead. For many of our clients, very small changes can make huge differences to the mood of the home and the dynamics within their family. Whilst new year's resolutions are often associated with adults and vary from quitting smoking to not shouting as often at the kids, one thing that many have in common is the idea of being able to change something to make a positive impact on someone's life.
Whilst on holiday the last couple of weeks, I have been thinking about what suggestions I would make as New Year's resolutions to create a calmer, healthier and more bonded family. Whilst this list is in no way exhaustive - I hope you find something that rings true for you and your loved ones.
1) CONSISTENT BEDTIME ROUTINES : One of the most common complaints from parents is that there is sleep disruption of some description. A set bedtime routine ( the time can vary) which starts from the time children get home in the afternoons and is predictable can often go a long way to creating a settled night. Finding time before bed to read with your children ( of all ages) and spend time talking about the day just passed and the one to come has a multitude of benefits for parents and kids alike.
2) FAMILY DINNERS : Whilst these don't need to be every night, taking time once or twice a week to sit down as a family and enjoy each other's company can create a sense of cohesion within a family - a sacred time that is just for you. it is also a chance for everyone in the family to be eating the same as each other and to promote healthy eating habits. Whether spent discussing the events of the day, playing an interactive game that everyone can play ( a client of ours recently insitutued i-spy with great success) or working on something together such as a riddles book- this is time to be treasured.
3) LIMIT SCREEN TIME - All of our lives have been enriched and also hindered by technology. However, when it comes to a happy home life, there are limits that should be set. Whether it is a time limit per day or certain times eg mealtimes when screens are not allowed, it is important for families to focus on each other and not just the screens in front of them.
4) HOMEWORK ENVIRONMENT - In the same way that as adults, we struggle to work in an environment that feels chaotic, the same is true for children and their homework. Each child should have their own set work station for homework. This can be a desk in their bedroom or opposite sides of the dining room table. They should know where they are going and when. Homework should be at a set point in the evening routine eg: after snacks and before dinner. Homework is another wonderful opportuinity for parents to engage with their children on their terms about their lives. From reading together in prep to helping revise for tests when they are older or just providing snacks when they are studying for exams. Your involvement shows your interest!
5) 1 ON 1 TIME : Whilst every family has it's own dynamic, so too do each of the family group when they interact together. No matter how many children in the family, it is something to aim for that each parent is able to spend time with each child alone and that each of the siblings has time playing or interacting together. This time can be as simple as driving to an after school activity or as exciting as going for a weekly ice cream with mummy after shopping. Siblings learn to listen to each other, become more tolerant and interact and understand each other's needs. Parents also need 1 on 1 time with each other! Regular date nights without the kids come highly recommended in order to stay on track with each other's lives and not just the list of chores that need to be completed. Whlist lives are hectic this quality time is often when the strongest bonds are formed!
Wishing all our readers a happy, healthy and peaceful 2016