Life often throws obstacles our way. Maybe you have had a tough year in 2014 and can recall more things that went badly than those that went well. It happens to all of us at some time in our lives. Whether you feel this past year has been good or bad, this time as we transition into a new year can be the ideal time to take stock. It’s a good time to look back over the previous twelve months in a productive manner, with a view to making positive changes for your family in 2015. Give yourself some quiet time to sit down with a notebook and pen, think about our suggestions below, and make your parenting plan for the brand new year ahead.
- Make a list of the top three things you love about your children.
- Make a list of the top three issues you can deal with well around parenting.
- Now that you are hopefully feeling a little more positive that things are never as bad as they seem, think about the things you need to make changes around.
- Name five areas of your parenting that you would like to change in the coming year. Write this plan into a nice diary or notebook that you will keep close with you all year. Or make a little poster and pin it up in your home to remind you of the goals you are setting for 2015.
- Start with introducing family meetings. If you don’t do this already then the time has come. As a parent your key role is to facilitate harmony in your home. You cannot do this without everyone getting on board. Talk with your children about the idea of family meetings. Everyone gets to talk and be heard. It’s a time for planning and sharing and most importantly solving issues. Have a family meeting book, use a notebook which will last the year and keep note each week of the meeting, the issues and the plan. This can make such a drastic change in families, you really should try it. When everyone is planning together and each family member feels they are being heard, then the plan is more likely to work. If it is your plan alone, you can bin it as it most likely will not work. Check out our 10 Ways to Run a Family Meeting for more information.
- Next you need to think about self-care. All parents need to make and value some time for themselves. This is especially valuable for anyone parenting on their own as no one else can do this for you so it’s important to acknowledge this and plan your own self-care. Without looking after yourself and meeting your own needs, you will not be able to continuously meet the needs of your family. Make a plan now of when you will get time out each week. What are your 3 top needs for this year? Name them and start planning. There is most often a simple way of meeting needs, but you have to be creative and positive that it is possible. Now write them up clearly and promise yourself that you deserve this time for you and your children will be much happier as a result. Happy Parents, Happy Home.
- Spend a week looking at you, at how you engage with your children. Is the picture one you like? If not then plan a change. Can you listen more and talk less? Can you ask for their story and not always tell yours? Can you empower your children to resolve their own issues instead of always trying to fix them for them? Can you put yourself in their shoes, what is life like for them? Can you talk with them and not at them? Can you see yourselves as team members who need to work together, cooperate with each other to get things done and needs met? Are the rules fair? Who made them? Is it time to review them? How many chances do you give? If the answer is more than one, then it’s time to think again. Talk with your child about choices, they choose to behave in certain ways, as do you, and we all face consequences. Are the consequences fair and does everyone face them?
- Think about your child’s other parent. What does it mean to your children to have two parents? Is your child’s other parent currently involved in parenting? What is your relationship like with the other parent? If there is room for improvement then try to make a change. Explore your style of communication and look at your role in any conflict. You can’t change your child’s other parent, you can only make changes for you, however positive changes often have ripple effects on others. For more suggestions, read 10 Ways to Explain an Absent Parent, 10 Ways to Successful Shared Parenting and 10 Ways to Positively Maintain Contact.
- Remember to contact One Family if you would like parenting support. We offer a variety of online information, one-to-one-supports, and parenting courses including a new online parenting support course starting this Spring. Click here to find out more. Maybe these supports are what you need to help you as you make positive change happen.
- You can also call or email our askonefamily helpline to talk about what is challenging you when starting into this new year ahead. You have the answers already, but you may need some support to dig them out.
This article is part of our weekly ’10 Ways to’ series of parenting tips, and is by One Family’s Director of Children and Parenting Services, Geraldine Kelly. Next week we examine how to put routines into place.
LIVE Facebook Q&A with Geraldine on Monday 5th January from 11am-12pm on One Family’s Facebook page. Join in and post your question.
Find out more about our parenting skills programmes and parent supports. For support and advice on these or any related topics, call askonefamily on lo-call 1890 66 22 12 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.