Many of us share some of the same New Year’s resolutions, like trying to cut down on sugar, going to the gym more frequently, trying to maintain a better work/life balance, and so on. As parents, I think there are a few important New Year’s Resolutions that can benefit not only us, but directly impact our children in a positive way as well! Here are my personal top 10 resolutions:
Taking a REAL break from electronics: My goal is to not pick up my phone, check work emails or go on the computer for any reason for a solid hour when I get home from work and pick up the kids. This is going to be OUR time. Of course there will be the occasional emergency that will need immediate tending to, but for the most part this should be doable. And, furthermore, limiting this until the children are in bed. Most things should be able to wait until the next morning, and I need to constantly remind myself of this. My children need my full attention (and I need theirs)!
Monthly date night with the husband: This is something that we talk about often but don’t act upon. Sure, it can be expensive to hire a babysitter….and many nights I just want to be in my pajamas by 8pm, but the negatives to not spending QT time with your partner is far greater than any of these burdens. I need to work on maintaining our connection, and remember we were best friends for many years before becoming parents. And i don’t only mean dinner. I want to go to more concerts too, something we rarely do now. To be proactive, I’m going to set up a date night for first 2 months this week!
More 1-on-1 time with each child: I often find my time with multiple children being pulled from one to another, or breaking up squabbles. Or, more than anything I let them play together and watch from the sidelines. As a working mother who is in the office during weekdays, I miss that 1-on-1 connection. Recently, I took my 5 year old for a hot chocolate, and we sat outside at a fire pit - really connecting with each other. Making chocolate mustaches, talking about school and her friends...without her crazy 2 year old brother throwing a ball at us. It was such a beautiful day and I plan on doing this a lot more in the New Year!
Working on my patience: I’ve never been one to have a lot of the “p” word, it’s something I’ve always had to work on. Now as a mother, I see that more and more. I need to take a deep breath and keep a better perspective. I am not a perfect parent, and my kids are not perfect kids. And this is OK. I want to refrain from raising my voice as quickly as I sometimes do, and take a step back and realize that whatever it is probably isn’t such a big deal!
Take better care of myself: Often with work, children and the house it’s very easy to sideline any of your self-care needs. This is not OK. This means I’m going to make sure I have my weekend jogging sessions and make that hair appointment more frequently than once every 5-6 months. I’m going to treat myself to a manicure for no reason every once and awhile.
Do a massive purge at the beginning of each season, starting right at the end of the year here. Go through every toy and our basement which is packed with who knows what. Go through old children’s clothing - label them and donate them to a veterans group or refugee families. Plan on a tag sale for the Spring and include a little lemonade stand for our little girl. Donate money earned to a meaningful cause. Get her involved with the donations so she understands how important it is to help families in need.
Read a book!!!! Or several!!! I have zero time to read. The free time I have is maybe an hour after kids are down and I’ve straightened up/prepared for the next day to do anything to relax. This hour is usually spent in front of the TV, relaxing to a Walking Dead or Game of Thrones episode. I completely tune out. The only time I have read is when we’re on our annual summer vacation - and one book a year is NOT cutting it. What about changing a couple of these nights to getting to bed earlier and cozying up with my new Stephen King trilogy - which I’ve been staring at for months with anticipation?
Laugh more and stress less - be PRESENT. Being present was already mentioned but I think it deserves its own section. Stop being distracted. When 2 year old is dancing like a chicken and running around the house, I should do the same with him. When my daughter is drawing, sit down and draw WITH her. When one of them is upset, really listen to what is upsetting them instead of trying to make them stop crying and get over it so quickly. Really be there in that moment.
Stop making the same meals every week and get more creative. I need to put a little effort into finding new dinners that our entire family can enjoy together. I’m a big proponent of only one meal every night, no separate dinners for the kids. Which of course can be limiting! But, there are other options out there and I need to find them. Roasted chicken, pasta and quesadillas cannot be a weekly occurrence for the next 10 years!
Stop trying to do everything: I recently hired a house cleaner. I thought I could do it all, and I finally came to the conclusion that I cannot. Waking up at 4am to clean the bathrooms before children wake up is no longer making any sense to me. I want to take that lesson and take it further next year. I’m going to write a list of things that I need help with, share with my husband, and ask that he be in charge of those things. Perhaps it’s some of the laundry, or helping make snacks or lunch for our daughter in kindergarten. So many mothers take on everything. It always made me feel so accomplished to take on so much, now I realize how silly that is. If i want to be more present, more happy in general...I need to let go.
Many people take it for granted that firemen, doctors, jeans, and the color blue are an exclusive boys’ domain; while princesses, skirts and dresses, and shades of pink are meant for girls. However, there are some parents who are challenging these fixed beliefs by practicing gender-neutral parenting.
In an interview with the Independent, Megan Perryman from the Let Toys Be Toys campaign said, “Gender-neutral parenting means allowing your children to play with a range of toys and wear the clothes they feel comfortable in.” She explained that this style allows kids to enjoy their childhood. She also clarified that gender-neutral parenting does not mean that girls should not be allowed to play with dolls anymore, saying that they can do so as long as they understand that those are not the only types of toys available to them.
One clear manifestation of gender-neutrality is through clothing. Instead of following the mindset that blue is only for boys and pink is exclusively for girls, gender-neutral parenting provides children with the opportunity to choose what clothes they want to wear. John Lewis made headlines in the UK for removing gendered labels on their children’s clothing line in their stores. Vogue mentioned that it was part of their bid to reduce gender stereotyping. However, the department store is far from being the first clothing retailer to create and/or promote unisex clothes for children. An article by Gurgle featured Kate Pietrasik, who is the sole founder of unisex kids’ clothing label Tootsa. She said that dressing children in gendered clothing not only affects the way other people see kids, but also the way they see themselves. She surmised that the gender divide in terms of clothes is nothing more than a marketing ploy to make money off of customers. They may be unconsciously forced to purchase different sets of clothes for children of different genders. She explained that children’s apparel must take their active lifestyle into consideration, as well as their love of color without leaning towards either sex.
Beyond letting kids enjoy their childhood, the aim of gender-neutral parenting is to open more doors to children. In effect, parents are allowing their kids to follow their own paths, instead of letting society’s pre-conceived notions to dictate what they can and can’t do. This also means teaching kids to have a more open mind in terms of societal roles. For instance, Lisa Cohn told Parents.com that they avoid gender stereotyping through instilling an idea that any task can be accomplished by anyone in the family. For instance, she and her husband do not say that women are the ones bearing the responsibility of cleaning up in the kitchen, while the men should mow the lawn. In doing so, she and her spouse are preventing their children from believing that some tasks can only be performed by one gender.
In the future, it can have implications on what sort of career they would want to pursue, as well as what lives they will lead as adults. Instead of letting society tell them who they should be, they will likely make choices based on who they really are and who they want to be.
AUTHOR BIO: MilkForMom_RJ is a first-time mom who believes that all children should be given equal opportunities, regardless of their gender or race. When she is not writing, she makes crafts and up cycled toys for her baby.
Photo courtesy of NYBG. Photo by Robert Benson Photography.
It’s December and the holidays are here!!! Can you even believe it?! Here is our annual round-up of holiday happenings in Brooklyn and in our neighboring boroughs. From a menorah lighting on 5th Ave, to cheering on runners decked out in holiday gear at the Jingle Bell Jog….to catching a family Broadway show, there should be something for everyone! Happy Holidays to all!
Through January 15th, The Holiday Train Show at NY Botanical Gardens: Enchanting model trains zip through a display of 150 landmarks, each re-created with bark, leaves, and other natural materials—all under the twinkling glow of the Enid A. Haupt Conservatory. Marvel at G-scale locomotives humming along among familiar sights such as the Brooklyn Bridge, Statue of Liberty, and Rockefeller Center on nearly a half-mile of track. This year’s exhibition showcases Midtown Manhattan’s iconic skyscrapers and other architectural wonders, featuring new replicas of the Empire State Building, Chrysler Building, General Electric Building, and St. Bartholomew’s Church.
December 2nd @ 9:30am, The Jingle Bell Jog Pace at Prospect Park: Come cheer on all the runners dressed up as elves, santas and reindeer (or sign up last minute - there are still open spots)! This festive family favorite is more than just a road race, it's also a celebration and a fundraiser for NYRR's youth programs.
December 2nd @ 4pm, Tree Lighting at Greenwood Park: Event begins 4:30, lighting is at 6:30. Free wreath making, photos with Santa and his elves AND a free toy for each kid!
December 2nd and 3rd @ The Brooklyn Historical Society, FAD Market: This holiday season, find the perfect gift for everyone at FAD Market – a roving Fashion, Art and Design pop-up marketplace. Stroll through the gorgeous Romanesque Revival building of Brooklyn Historical Society and meet over 40 thoughtfully selected independent designer makers showcasing handcrafted jewelry, apparel, bath and body care, tableware and home furnishings. Discover unique holiday gifts and snag one-of-a-kind stocking stuffers at FAD Market this winter!
December 18th @ 4:30pm, Menorah Lighting on 5th: Come light the Menorah with #theother5th with Chabad Park Slope and Lullaby Baby. There will be donuts, latkes and music.
Various Locations/Times: MEET SANTA!!! Click here for a link of local establishments that are hosting meet and greets with the jolly man himself.
Ongoing at The Lefrak Center at Lakeside, Ice Skating: What better way to celebrate the season than with ice skating (followed up by a hot chocolate at the Bluestone Cafe, of course)!
Ongoing on Broadway: How about enjoying a family Broadway Show, like “Elf”, “A Garfield Christmas” or “Christmas Spectacular”?! Create a memory that will last a lifetime.
December 30th, 12-5pm @ Museum of Natural History, Kwanza 2017: The Museum’s 2017 Kwanzaa event is a celebration of African-American heritage that is rooted in seven principles known as Nguzo Saba, which promote unity, culture, and community development. The program will feature a live musical performance, an overview of the Kwanzaa principles, and marketplace that showcases local artisans from the African-American community.
And don’t forget the Dyker Heights Christmas Lights! Take the D/M trains to 18th Ave or the R train to 86th Street. Suggestion: try going between 6:30 and 8:30pm on the weekends for the best of the lights and displays!