Parenting Resolutions with Panache
Embrace the New Year with a few resolutions dedicated to the children.
Another fun-filled year has passed into the annals of history and as we lurch into 2011, several things are going to occur to us – as they tend to this time of year. A few may sting a bit, others may just annoy us. Either way, they will spur one of two outcomes: Inspiration will spark some of the best decisions of our lives, or we'll simply find our good intentions ultimately betrayed by our lack of focus and determination.
New Year's resolutions are funny like that. But, they are no more avoidable than shoveling snow, or getting stuck in line behind the coupon lady at the grocery store. They give us the opportunity to click the refresh button on ourselves, so to speak, and proceed with a more emboldened sense of purpose and direction. The turn of the year can be a springboard to a better, healthier and more organized way of living – a chance to reevaluate what has gone wobbly in our lives.
As parents, this is a good thing. My daughter experienced the first real Christmas of her young life, and for all of the time, effort and money that went into it, the payoff was invaluable. When her little feet hit the foot of the stairs Christmas morning, and her ear-to-ear smile broke into a gaping primal scream – "Santa came! Santa came!" – I knew it was a moment none of us would ever forget.
Now, I'm in the position of having to make room for all of her new loot. She has turned a corner, sprouting from infancy into a full-blown toddler, leaving behind a wealth of clothes, books, stuffed animals and toys. A few of these we'll save for our newborn but, for the most part, we decided to parlay this opportunity into a few New Year's resolutions.
We could pass some of her out-grown inventory on to friends and family, or store it away for a garage sale this spring, but my wife and I think that donating most of it would be the more prudent – and charitable – thing to do. With the opening of the new Canton Goodwill store, we figure that it would be worth the effort of sorting and packing up all of her things, as long as it is going to support a good cause. And come tax time, we'll be glad for the deduction.
There are other options, with several thrift and resale shops throughout the township: Once Upon a Child, Plato's Closet, the Green and Glamorous Resale Boutique and Play It Again Sports. If you – like my wife and me – have also resolved to realign your finances and spending habits, then weeding out your kids' unused toys and clothes or paring down your own wardrobe and possessions could yield more space in your home and maybe some extra cash.
A healthier You
Another task at the top of most resolution lists, usually spawned by guilt over holiday eating excesses, is the commitment to get back into shape. The weather tends to be the factor working the hardest against us in our attempts to adopt (or re-adopt) a healthy routine. No one wants to venture out into the snow and slush unless it's absolutely necessary. And we don't all have the proper exercise equipment in our homes (or any at all, for that matter), but Canton is replete with gyms and activities that can help you reach your fitness goals.
Two options come immediately to mind, though there are others. The Summit on the Park and Lifetime Fitness both include extensive exercise equipment, pools, gymnasiums and racquetball courts, saunas, running tracks, and a variety of cardio and fitness classes. And the best part is that they have childcare available. So, no excuses on that count.
If you are already enrolled at a smaller gym – such as Curves, Fitness 19 or Snap Fitness 24/7 – or even take classes at a local dance center or martial arts center but struggle to find the time to go, then making smaller commitments might help. Unless you have home equipment, or possess the self-discipline to get up at 4 a.m. to get to the gym before work, then you have to be realistic about what you expect from yourself. Even getting into a routine of exercising one or two days a week can make you feel healthier – and spur future success.
Yet another resolution my wife and I have is to become more tolerant and understanding of our 2 1/2-year-old, Emma. She is well ahead of the curve in terms of her ability to interact with people. This means she demands answers to every question that crosses her young mind, and wants to participate in everything she lays her eyes on. It can be exhausting – as much for her as it is for us.
But rather than stifle her enthusiasm and her curiosity – which we feel we do at times out of frustration – we have resolved to be more patient with her. There is a fine line between disciplining your child and excessively punishing them. We all strive to dole out our reprimands as fairly as possible, but we often miss the mark. Our aim is not usually off but by a few inches or so, sometimes below the target, others high of it. The key is to learn from each encounter and adjust accordingly.
Kids tend to have a rather tentative grasp of fairness, though they do understand the differences between right and wrong (even if they chose to manipulate your uncertainty). As I have mentioned before, parenting cannot be mastered. It takes creativity and routine to perform with any degree of success, and one of the most important roles you can assume with your child is that of coach. While you may be impressed with your child's capacity to learn (as I am), you must realize that they cannot function and make decisions on their own.
Regardless of how old your children are, or what point they are at in their learning cycles, every effort you make to tend to them – and yourself – more efficiently and positively, the better off everyone will be. New Year's resolutions are often given a bad name because they are portrayed as unrealistic hopes. No hope should ever be classified that way. Even if we don't ultimately achieve the highest of them, it is important to always be working toward a goal. In the end, our progress – no matter what degree – is what keeps us going, what helps us evolve.