I have a problem. M&M candies seem to have a death grip on me. I literally just downed a handful while writing this blog! I end up in this spot at the end of every year. I give myself a some freedom; I relax my diet and splurge a little. It seems simple and innocent but those minor indulgences add up to an M&M habit that I’m going to have to break in the New Year.
It’s no secret that habits are hard to break, especially when they are attached to our sense of pleasure or peace in life. This is why that New Year’s resolution to eat right and get in shape is so difficult. But for those who fight through the pain, there is a preferred future on the other side.
This is also true in your parenting. We all allow little compromises in our parenting ideals. It’s especially easy to compromise when the routine is off the norm. Which brings us to today. If you are like me, the new year is not just about getting in better physical shape, it’s about getting in better parenting shape. Over the last month, especially with school out, we’ve let a lot of things slide. But now it’s time to bring back healthy routine and boundaries for the good of our kids. Below I’ve made a simple list of ideas for you to get in good parenting shape in 2017.
- Consistent daily routine. Routine is the name of the game with kids. The more consistent you can make their day, the better they function (see bedtime chart below). Kids respond extremely positively to firm boundaries and predictable routines. For instance, kids need to get in the bed at the same time every day if possible. Establishing a repeatable bedtime routine is critical. When kids are well rested, they perform better in every arena of life. Apply this thinking to homework, the morning routine before school and after school activities.
- Limit “screen time.” Yes, we are all grateful for the gift of these digital babysitters, but most parents allow their children far too much screen time. Aside from the use of a computer/device for school work, screens should be limited to less than an hour a day. In our family, we try to keep a "zero-screen time” rule during the week. Don’t worry, our kids have already told us we’re crazy. The obvious big question is, "what will they do?” Remember, Mom and Dad, entertaining your kids is NOT your job and boredom invites chores. Oh, and one last thing, limits on screen time applies to parents too!
- Eat dinner together. Nothing replaces a consistent time where your family gathers around the dinner table. I highly recommend doing what you can to aim for four nights a week or more. This simple act of family connection provides an unmatched opportunity to build a culture of love, encouragement, communication and laughter for your family. Knowing this connecting point awaits you each evening allows you to be intentional to think of ways to encourage and bless your family during this time. You will never regret prioritizing this time together.
I’m sure you can think of 3-4 more changes that need to be made, but these are definitely three ways you can start getting back in good parenting shape in 2017.
Don’t forget to save the date for the #7000days Parenting Conference coming to Highpoint Church on May 5-6, 2017.
#7000days Sleep Diagram