The bustle of the holiday season often brings with it the opportunity to look back at the past year and reflect upon those moments -big and small - that combined to create meaningful memories for our families. At the same time, the end of the calendar year often brings with it a point where parents and children can use this reflection to create goals for how to gain a fresh start for the year ahead.
As a Pre-Kindergarten through twelfth grade school, Indian Creek families are comprised of children of all ages, from infancy through college. With vast options for extra-curricular involvement through the School, including athletic, arts, academic, and community service, families at Indian Creek often share common aspirations when making “resolutions” for the year ahead. We asked several Creek families about their resolutions for 2018, found that no matter what the ages of their children, many of their goals aligned. Below are seven of the most common resolutions – and tips on how to incorporate these goals into everyday life – from parents and faculty at Indian Creek School.
1 – Slow down. Whether it’s rushing to get everyone to school or work in the morning, or racing to get to sports, dance, or other after school activities, the frantic pace of parenting today hinders our ability to make the most of those every day moments. This resolution was expressed by Emily, mother to Teddy in Pre-K4. “I stop and ask myself, ‘What makes getting somewhere on time more of a priority for me than keeping a calm demeanor or letting Teddy stop to smell the roses?” Maintaining this perspective is important, as well as setting ourselves up for success in advance. A few minutes spent before bedtime choosing the next day’s outfit or preparing lunches could add valuable time in the mornings. A sixth grade mom shared that she recently heard herself using her “hurry up voice” and was struck by the fact that this probably the voice that her daughter hears the most from her. Being mindful of the effects of such a frantic pace, taking a deep breath, and being less hurried can ease stress for all family members.
2 – Organize. Getting organized is a shared goal for both students and parents. Indian Creek students are well-versed in the ‘How To’s of organization. Clean lockers, a logical binder system, dedicated homework space, a daily planner…. All of these pieces combine to set students up for success in school. But when you’re managing school and home life for multiple children, positive habits for the whole family need to be in place. Whole family routines like setting a timer for 10 minutes (and playing favorite music throughout the house) for a small spurt of evening chores, or prep for the next day can be fun and make a world of difference in the overall feel and productivity of your household. Another suggestion from Carol, parent to a 2017 graduate and eighth and tenth grade boys, is to set up a family work area, where kids and parents can work beside each other on homework, office work, or household tasks together. While older children may not necessarily need homework help, just working in proximity to a parent or sibling can keep lines of communication open, and give you dedicated time to finish work at home, read mail, pay bills, write thank you notes, make to-do lists, or complete other tasks that seem to never get done.
3 -Read together. We all know the importance of reading to young children. But as children grow older, the business of bedtime (and end of the day exhaustion), sometimes make this experience seem like just another task. And as our children grown older, this activity often goes by the wayside. Indian Creek’s sixth grade classes are participating in a “Family Read” event, where students and parents chose a novel to read together and then families participate in online discussion boards to talk about the novels. To make the experience extra fun, teachers handed out goodie bags of popcorn and candy to set a cozy atmosphere for the families to read together. This experience reminded many parents how much they love reading with their children. As Matthew, a sixth grade parent who read the novel with his daughter shared, “I’ve really missed reading together over the years. Now that my kid is a bit older, there are so many of my favorite books that we can read together. This project inspired me to dust them off and get started!” Even if reading out loud to each other is not preferable for your children, just reading your own books beside each other sets a calm, relaxing tone at the end of the day, and models reading for pleasure through adulthood.
4 - Put down our devices. Period. Research about the negative effects of device addiction in children and adults is overwhelming. As parents, we have no problem telling our kids to put their phones down. But these instructions are meaningless when we ourselves are glued to our phones and iPads. Kids can tell when we are distracted, and deserve our full attention during the time we have with them. And once our children are of driving age, no amount of threats or warning about texting while driving will have an impact if our children have seen us using our phones in the car for years. Jennifer, parent of two Creekers, shared her family’s practice of keeping a charging station in the kitchen where all phones go at the end of the day and remain through dinner and bedtime. “It was a little bit difficult for all of us at first, but took less than a week for us to appreciate this new system.”
5 - Take care of yourself. “I am convinced that I am a better mom when my nails are painted,” shared Mattie, mother of a toddler. There is great wisdom in this statement. When we feel good, this positivity carries into our interactions with our children. Whether it’s carving out a few minutes to paint your nails, or read a book for fun, or making regular time to go to the gym, take a walk, or pursue a hobby that you love, happy parents make happy children. Scheduling occasional dates with your partner is an important investment in your family’s overall health.
6- Talk. It can sometimes be easy to get stuck on auto-pilot at the end of the day, in the midst of after activities, dinner, homework, and bedtime rituals. “My conversations with my kids sometimes seem like more of a checklist,” shared one parent. Chuck, Humanities teacher and father to a teenage boy, recommends that parents ask specific questions, rather than the typical “How was your day?” type of inquiry. Some great questions for children of all ages might include “When did you laugh the hardest today?” or “Tell me about how you were a good friend today?” or “Did you notice anybody being kind to someone today?” These types of questions often spark conversations that move on to become topics that are important to your children.
Recently, the Indian Creek Parent Teacher Organization held a Parent Education Symposium and invited renowned specialist Deborah Roffman, author of the book "Never Too Late: How to Support Your Child’s Healthy Sexual Development" to have a conversation with parents about how to talk to their children about topics that are often seen as difficult. She had great advice for parents, including the recommendation to interweave big conversations in small doses throughout your daily life. “Don’t wait for perfect setting to have big conversations. Small doses introducing important topics will help your kids feel comfortable revisiting the conversation, and show them that they can talk to you with ease.
Bruce Crossman, father of two grown girls and educator of adolescents for over 40 years shares this wisdom. “Go for a car ride, but turn off the radio – especially when it’s dark outside. This provides a great setting for conversations, particularly with boys.” Working together on hands-on projects also provides a good opportunity to really talk to your kids.
7 - Enjoy your kids! Isn’t this really the resolution that we all want for our families? Stacey, teacher and mother to four boys in grades 6-10, has resolved to spend more time as a whole family. As kids grow older and branch off into more activities, parents split time with children out of necessity. But making an effort to spend time as a whole family is important too.
The New Year’s Resolution Advice from Indian Creek parents can be summed up as follows: Go outside. Laugh. Sing. And enjoy each other.
Happy 2018 from Indian Creek School!