I’ve said before that I’m not a big New Year’s Resolution gal because I’m pretty much constantly resolving to do something-or-other differently, whether it’s falling off and getting back on the “no soda” wagon or trying to impose new chore regimens or just being a little kinder to myself. Sometimes I do pretty well. Other times? Not so much.
But the beginning of 2013 coincides with two intentional parenting resolutions, so I thought that I’d share them.
The first resolution is a renewed commitment to the Date-with-the-Kid night. Yes, yes, yes: I love the idea of date night for the grown-ups, and that’s always a goal, but that’s actually become easier these days. We occasionally have impromptu date night because the girls now have evening activities and the occasional sleepover. We still pay for babysitters, but it’s understood that if both children happen to be occupied elsewhere for more than an hour, we drop everything useful in order to hang out together. (Ah . . . remember when “hanging out” with your spouse was something you did that prevented you from accomplishing useful to-do list items? And now if you–ahem!–“hang out,” you feel like you’ve checked something off a list in the maintaining-our-relationship category? Wait, that’s not just us, is it? And you totally understand that, in this case, “hanging out” is a euphemism for eating while drinking wine and talking about something besides household logistics, right? Wait–what were you thinking?)
Oh, jeepers. I got distracted. So I’m talking a kids’ Date Night, when Cute W pairs up with M while I pair up with J, and then we switch the next time.Â Our child dates choose the venue and we have a little one-on-one time, usually over dinner. This started waaaaayyyy back when J was a toddler. Back then, Cute W and J did a Tumbling Tykes class one evening a week, and M would soak up some of that first-child, one-on-one Mama Time that she mourned so much, usually asking to go to a bookstore to read books. Actually, it worked better back then, when it was a specific schedule that involved a bought-and-paid-for class. Since then we’ve tried to do the Date Night every other week, and we’ll go strong for about six weeks and then we’ll just get busy and it will fall by the wayside. But then here’s what happens: months will pass and one or the other daughter will say wistfully, “Remember how we used to do date nights. . . ?” And we’ll become attacked by parental guilt and remorse and begin the cycle again. So this year I’ve decided that we’re just going to try it one Friday night per month. Of course, promptly after deciding that, two different activities got moved to Friday nights, if you can believe it. So maybe we’ll have to try for one Saturday per month.
The second resolution is that, for the first time ever, we’re splitting up bedtime so that J gets a bit more sleep. For years and years, we’d do bedtime right after dinner. I’d clean up the kitchen while Cute W would bring the girls upstairs, help them with teeth and pajamas, and then the three of them would read. Then they’d yell down for me, and I’d hustle up for more one-on-one reading time. It worked well for a long time. But over the past year or two, bedtime’s gotten pushed later. The girls help with clean-up or they dawdle over dessert, or Cute W would start doing something downstairs. Actually, it was a bit of an object of contention, because I wanted the girls to get tucked in asap because, for me, that constitutes clocking out for the evening. So sometimes the girls would be playing upstairs and Cute W would continue whatever he was doing while I’d be muttering to myself and checking the time repeatedly. Or things would be going well between the girls and then suddenly I’d hear Overtiredness Drama, and then my options were to (1) pretend that I didn’t hear and risk Bodily Harm or (2) respond by heading upstairs and ensure that I was being Passive Aggressive Wife.
More recently, heading upstairs at 7:30 pm has seemed a little ridiculous for a 5th grader, even if M was allowed to read more on her own after reading aloud was over. So it crept later, and since they’ve grown up doing bedtime together, poor 2nd-grade J’s bedtime was getting too late. Plus J’s gymnastics runs a little late for my tastes, and that’s twice a week. J also wakes up too dang early. It doesn’t matter if she’s asleep at 8 pm or 11 pm: she’s likely to by up by 6:15 am at the latest either way. Which is particularly funny, because sometimes she wakes up pretty groggy and grouchy, but she still can’t get back to sleep in the morning. On other days, she’s quite perky. Here’s what I found when I woke up on Sunday morning, when Cute W was away at a church overnight and thus J was left to her own devices while I slept in:
So I’ve given up on trying to get her to sleep in. Instead, we’re going back to a right-up-after-dinner procedure for reading together, and then J gets tucked in for a bit more reading and lights out by 8 pm, while M is quietly released into the wild (or perhaps just the sofa downstairs) until 9 pm. J really does understand that this will help her feel better, so she’s on board, and M’s done an excellent job of not gloating. So far (knock on wood), she hasn’t even asked to watch extra tv, so for the most part this extra evening time has been devoted to reading or homework. In other words, this resolution appears to be working.
Meanwhile, I saved a couple of resolution links for you:
- Motherlode blog from The New York Times has a post on 12 New Year’s Resolutions for Happier Families.
- Melissa from Columbia County Moms has a list of free apps to help you with three common resolutions: losing weight, saving money, and getting organized.
How about you? Any family or personal resolutions?
Laughed out loud at the “clocking out” section. I too feel like once the toddler is asleep my “job” for the day is done. So I do start to boil when hubby has let bath time linger, followed by chase, and delayed tickle fights before stories. A rowdy toddler before bedtime irks me! So thanks for proving my point to him 🙂
The best resolution I’ve seen suggested for happier families/lives was this: try to do less. Don’t resolve to do anything new. Drop something, in fact, if you can. Simplify. The argument is persuasive, that this allows more efficiency with what you are already committed to otherwise.
That looks like a yummy brunch. What a lovely table setting. Would that be “raw” Taylor Ham so lovingly displayed?
@Meghan, these damn fathers and their quality time!
@Matt, Less is always better these days–but it’s like losing weight: easier said than done.
@Big Sister, on the contrary, the Taylor Ham was cooked, although perhaps not to crisped perfection. I was just glad that they were pre-sliced.
Great post Katie! Thanks for the link-up as well!
@Melissa, thank you and my pleasure.