The beginning of the new year is normally a time to consider what positive changes we want for us and our families.
What should our parenting goals be for the new year? Which things should happen more and which less often in our daily lives with the kids? Here are 5 suggestions that if followed little by little could have a huge positive impact on children's health and development and the quality of family relationships.
Resolution #1: Less screen time
Nowadays we spend countless hours in front of the phone, TV or computer without even noticing. It's difficult for both children and parents to take their eyes off the screen. However, as we discussed in a previous article , too much screen time takes away valuable development opportunities for children and can even lead to behavioural problems. Plus parents who are on their phones all the time fail to pay real attention to their children.
Therefore, your starting goal for your children, or even better for the whole family, could be to have mealtimes without any screens. Next, schedule an entire day of the week which will be free of technology. This way you'll be able to enjoy more quality time with your children, longer and deeper conversations and a better relationship as a family.
Resolution #2: More playtime with the kids
One of the best things you can do for your children is to spend more special time with them, not just around them. Children learn about the world and how to behave through play, even if it's a simple game of chase or hide and seek. Playtime is a great way to get to know your child better, to become a role model, to develop their skills, and encourage more physical movement.
This year set a goal to make playtime a family ritual. Choose a day and time of the week when there are no other commitments, and stick to it. There are so many activities to choose from - football, arts, board games or any other family favourite. Your kids are sure going to love and look forward to that special day.
Resolution #3: More bedtime reading
Story reading is without any doubt one of the most beneficial and enjoyable things for little kids. Stories build on children's imagination, knowledge of the world, language and listening skills. They stimulate children to think, especially if you ask them additional open-ended questions about the book's illustrations or the characters' actions, thoughts and feelings.
That's why it's a great idea to aim at reading to your child for at least ten minutes every night. Story reading is a great bedtime ritual that allows the body to calm down and prepare for sleep. And if we have time to read some more during the day, that's even better.
Resolution #4: More children's involvement in chores
When you have a toddler, it may seem that having them sweep or wash a dish would only cause more trouble than be of any real help. That's why parents often prefer doing all chores by themselves and miss the fact that children could learn a lot from helping around the house. Sharing family duties builds useful life skills and teaches responsibility, autonomy, diligence and teamwork even to the youngest children. You just have to give them tasks that they can handle, e.g. to wipe something, set the table, pick up the toys, throw out a piece of garbage, etc.
As part of your new year resolutions, make and decorate a pretty "chore jar", where you can put slips of paper with age-appropriate weekly chores. Every week, each family member draws a slip and gets assigned one or more chores. This helps children learn early on how to take and carry out their responsibilities, and participate in family affairs. Chore jars are a great idea for families with children ages 3 and above, since a basic comprehension of the concept of "week" is needed. Two-year-olds are very curious and also love helping out, so they can be great "assistants" to their big sister or brother.
Resolution #5: More healthy food
Healthy food is at the basis of proper physical and mental development. It protects us against disease by strengthening the body's defense mechanisms. Preparing varied and nutritious meals for the whole family, with less salt, sugar, sweeteners and bad fats, is something we should always strive for and teach our children to strive for as well.
If your child sees you eating healthy, they will also be more willing to skip the sweets and packaged snacks and try a home-cooked meal instead. Another very effective strategy to try this year is to involve your child more often in preparing the meals. This will certainly make them more inclined to taste and even like what they have prepared.
Below is a fun song that can additionally motivate your children to try that delicious roasted beet salad or nettle soup.
And how about children setting their own New Year's resolutions?
The ability to set goals and follow them is important throughout life. Write down your child's ideas for resolutions and come back to them when needed during the year. Here are some suggestions for resolutions that any parent would approve. 😊
✓ Wash hands every time after using the bathroom and before meals
✓ Brush teeth every morning and evening
✓ Always tidy up after playing
✓ Have fruit or vegetable with every meal
✓ Be kind with families and friends
"This publication was created with the financial support of the Active Citizens Fund Bulgaria under the Financial Mechanism of the European Economic Area. The entire responsibility for the content of this publication lies with the Health and Social Development Foundation and under no circumstances can it be assumed that this publication reflects the official opinion of the Financial Mechanism of the European Economic Area and the Operator of the Active Citizens Fund Bulgaria."