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          Parenting

          Making Family Resolutions

          January 06, 2005


          In this day and age, it’s easy to get overscheduled, stressed-out and disorganized. Make this year the year you make your family a priority — to spend more time together, live in less chaos or even just have more fun.

          Take inventory and prioritize.

          If you want to turn chaos into harmony and rhythm in your household, you have to be willing to challenge everything. Nothing is sacred. You may have to change your lifestyle, rearrange your schedule or drop some of your commitments in order to fully benefit your family. Are your children involved in too many activities? Are you so busy you never have time alone with your spouse? Ask yourself what’s really important to you and your family.

          Recognize what you’re doing to contribute to the problem.

          You may be very loving and well-intended, but you could be making critical mistakes. Are you a control freak? Never say no even when you’re overscheduled? Have no time to sit and enjoy your children? Think about what changes could start with you.

          Learn to delegate.

          Oftentimes, mothers take it all on themselves when their children are old enough to lend a helping hand. You can’t do everything. It’s admirable, but not realistic. Divide up the labor and responsibilities so you’re not so worn out all the time. Give your kids specific tasks that they can each be responsible for. Your kids will appreciate it. It’ll make them feel helpful, and you’ll have more to give them in return.

          Eat meals together.

          Spending time together is vital. If everyone has a different schedule and you don't even gather together for a family meal, you are missing an important part of a cohesive family. Make a commitment to sit down for a family meal every evening. Everyone needs to get around the dinner table and talk about the day. Turn the TV off, take the phone off the hook and turn the chaos down. You can enjoy this time together, laughing and talking.

          Create family rituals.

          Plan something fun for everyone to look forward to. Pick one night a week for game night. It's the time to de-stress, decompress, relax and have fun together without the TV on or the phone ringing. Do your children like to bake? Bake something new every week. Find special things to do every holiday or birthday. Your kids may roll their eyes, but their ears still work, and they'll be grateful for the time together.

          Schedule family meetings.

          Taking just a short amount of time to gather and calmly talk about the week, what's coming, what's expected, and to ask questions can really bond a family. It's also a good time to organize the schedule, work out family problems and allow everyone to be heard.

          Make each child feel special.

          Make a commitment to have "dates" with each of your kids. Find one thing you can do that's unique to each child that you don't do with the other kids. Know that you are very important to your children. The time you spend with them is vital to who they become as adults.

          Nurture your relationship with your spouse.

          One of the most important things you can do for your children is to take care of their mom and dad. Don't stop being friends and lovers because you've become parents. Schedule in date-night for just the two of you. Remember why you fell in love in the first place.

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