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Playground Equipment Blog
Thursday, December 27, 2018

Parenting New Year’s Resolutions You Can Keep (And How to Keep Them)

The new year is just about upon us, and we’re all about to take part in the long, grand tradition of making a resolution we know we’re going to break at the first possible opportunity. Many of us with kids clink our glasses of champagne at midnight with a thought spared for how we can be better parents now the slate is wiped clean by the changing of the calendar. For all that bubbly good intention, though, resolutions about parenting and our kids are just as likely to go flat as those we make for ourselves.

Or, that’s usually the case. Here, we’ve taken the opportunity to put forward a few resolutions for your kids in 2019 that you can be sure to keep...because we’ll show you how.

Resolution #1: Less TV (and phones and video games and…)

It’s as old as the boob-tube itself: the fight over TV time. Nowadays, that’s expanded to phone time, tablet time, and overall screen time. A little time spent on the screen is fine, and can even be very positive (family movie time should never be on the chop block), but we could all stand to cut back.

So, here’s a tough but very good idea: introduce a screen ban. After a certain hour, every evening, all phones are plugged into chargers in another room, all TVs are turned off, all computers put in Sleep Mode. Exceptions can be made for homework or the previously mentioned family movie time. Otherwise, no calls, no vegging, and no video games.

You’ll have an easier time with this if your kids are younger, but you can still establish some boundaries with teenagers as well. Try to entice them into this arrangement by getting ideas from them for how to spend those screen-free hours. You may find they have a lot of things they’d be happy to do with the family if they’re allowed to occasionally decide.

Resolution #2: Stick to Your Schedule

This one is for both the parents and the kids. We all say we plan to spend less time at work and keep the kids on a schedule that includes plenty of family activities, time for homework, and the right bedtime. Then life happens.

We aren’t always masters of our own work schedule, but we can still make a few positive changes to improve our scheduling at home. Start with expanding the screen ban to yourself. No email or texting once you’re home until the kids are asleep. Unless you have a job that absolutely requires you remain available throughout the evening, getting off your phone will leave you more engaged with your family and more able to manage everyone’s schedule successfully.

Not just that, studies have found the best way to curb those screen urges in the young is to demonstrate the discipline yourself. Now, you’re tackling two resolutions in one! To further this effort, post an actual schedule for evenings and weekends in a place everyone is going to see it (like on the fridge). You may not always hit the schedule points every evening, but the constant reminder will keep encouraging you while you slowly build the family evenings into a regular routine.

If you aren’t sure what your schedule should look like, the CDC has some examples to start with.

You can also increase the likelihood you stick to your schedule by getting input from your kids as you create it. When they’ve agreed to certain hours for homework instead of being forced into it, it’ll be easier to remind them this is the time they wanted reserved for that work. You may also find they actually do their work when they get to choose the time they’re most engaged and eager to study.

Resolution #3: Less Junk, More Health

Kids and junk food: one of the ultimate consternations of every parent is trying to improve family diets just to see the kids hone in on the one container of Pringles in the house and pop away. However, the truth is, cutting down on junk is easier than you may think.

Start with where you can do least: you probably can’t keep your kids from snacking on junk food at school. If they get money for lunch, they’ll have a certain amount of control over what they eat. Some schools limit those options, others don’t, but you’re a little at the mercy of that school’s decision. (Unless you want to lobby the school to change their policies, but that’s a major resolution buster right there.)

It’s best to just accept this limitation in your powers. Pushing kids too hard on their food and behavior can have more negative effects than positive.

Instead, make the most obvious choice and just stop buying junk for the house. Simply making junk food less easy to get to often reduces the problem significantly. If there are no Pringles in the house, the kids won’t find them and eat them. This, of course, requires some sacrifice on your part but it’s undeniably effective.

What about all the fast food and pizzas? Well, a little of that is probably okay too, but trimming the frequency of such events is probably for the best. You can curtail the family fast food binges by spending some of that new family time meal planning. Find healthy recipes that sound good to the kids and make them together as a family. Once again, incorporating their thoughts and their tastes will make them more enthusiastic about the choice.

If you’re too busy to cook regularly, you can research some healthier fast food options and try to commit to at least one home-cooked meal a week.

Resolution #4: Finding Time for Fun with the Little Ones

One of the best ways to improve overall family health: get outside. One of the best ways to spend more time having fun (and less time fighting, lecturing, punishing, sighing, groaning, and slamming doors): get outside.

Whether you’re just going for a walk around the neighborhood or training the family up for a mini-marathon in the summer, getting outside as often as possible brings families together, improves health, and increases family time.

If you are searching for a way to accomplish this, we’ve got a suggestion: go to the park. Plenty of parks now incorporate equipment for visitors of all ages. There’s toddler playground equipment, preschool-aged playground equipment, school-aged playground equipment, and there’s even fitness equipment for teens and adults.

Playgrounds and parks make it fun being outside with the family. They encourage imaginative, creative, and physical play. The also get everyone breathing fresh air and enjoying a bit of nature (even if it’s just a few trees and a lot of grass). You may also find that a little exercise and nature help get truculent kids to open up a little more and reopen some dialogue with the parents.

The beauty of these resolutions isn’t just that they’re important for your family or that they’re eminently achievable with a little work, it’s that they work together so you can achieve all of them within the same calendar year.

If you can find a way to settle on a better work/school/play schedule, cut back on screen time, cut out the junk food in the house, and get outside more with the kids, the changes will reinforce each other.

We don’t want to overemphasize how easy this will be. Parenting, as we all know, is hard, and we’re going to fall short and make compromises no matter how hard we try. But if by next December 31st you’ve got the kids spending one hour less on a screen, one more hour outside, eating one more healthy meal a week, and spending even a little more much begrudged time with their dear old parents, you can pat yourself on the back for a great job very well done.

Even if the effort is doomed to failure, though, just trying to make these changes at the dawn of 2019 will yield a little more quality time spent being healthy with family. And isn’t that worth giving a try?

With that thought in mind, Happy Resolution Making and Happy New Year. We’ll see you in 2019.

Written by: Ben Thompson

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