You guys. Look how little he was. So tiny, so vulnerable, so many spectacular ways to fail him.
And in the last six years, I’ve missed some marks. He does not like kale, he does like cartoons where the characters do battle, and I count Plants vs. Zombies as quality family time as long as we’re playing on the same iPad. Bonding.
Anyway, working with Next Generation and the Clinton Foundation on the Word Gap situation, I’ve come to realize that a lot of the things I consider little slips – inconsistent bedtime, generous screen time, occasional days where we skip books – are actually bigger deals than I thought.
So here are my family resolutions for 2014:
Regulate the bedtime routine.
I learned recently that consistent bedtimes help kids learn, and we’ve been pretty good about it, but what has slipped is the routine that gets us there. Specifically, to make it to bedtime we sometimes skip books, or dinner at the table, which are just as important to neural and social development. We do great when we have timers in play, and it makes Hank feel more in charge of his time, so we’re about to get a little less pliable on our after-school routine.
Lullabies before bed.
This is part of the above. Hank loves music, and I used to sing to him every night, but then he just got disinterested, I think because we were singing the same song every night. So I’m making a lullaby book we can choose from, and reintroducing music into the house. I love it, and it’s supposed to help promote math skills and linguistic development, so double win.
Make things together.
Hank’s fine motor skills are a tiny bit behind schedule, which makes penmanship and drawing a little harder. I love crafts and art, but he’s never seemed as interested. I finally realized it’s because he doesn’t like to do it alone. So this year more mom-kid craft time, and more art play dates. Everything will be covered in glitter.
Slowly replace the TV with books.
Studies show that a kid’s ability to acquire vocabulary is tied directly to parents (and caregivers) interacting with them around words. If you’re also a single mom with a full-time job you’ll know that the temptation to lean on screens is overwhelming. This year we’ll be making more trips to the library, and I’ll pause to read with him a couple times a day, especially on weekends.
There’s no such thing as parenting “right,” but this year we can at least nudge things in the right direction. Have you ever made family resolutions? I’m curious about what works for you.