Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Three New Year Resolutions for Parents

Start the Year off with Presence

'Happy New Year' as a parent means a year of genuine growth for your children, but it should also mean a year of happiness for you as a parent. The two go together. It's not hard. In fact, it's simple. Here are three top ideas to reap a year of growth and happiness for all. These three actions go
educator, parents,
Papa Green Bean on a ferry with Mt. Rainer in background
hand-in-hand, as you'll soon see:

1. One-On-One 

It is a cliche, but your child does not need things, all he needs is you. One-on-one. Parent and child spending unadulterated time together is the stuff childhood memories are made of. If you have a spouse, then take turns with the child. This allows the one-on-one experience, as well as giving the other parent some alone time. If you have two children, then break into two one-on-ones. 

There is a special, powerful energy that bonds two people with time alone together. Also, make it count. Not ten minutes, but at least thirty, if not a few hours at a time. 

2. Mindfulness 

Olympic National Park, Washington State
Mindfulness is "the intentional, accepting and non-judgmental focus of one's attention on the emotions, thoughts and sensations occurring in the present moment"

Okay, so when you are having one-on-one time with your child, for it to be a true present to the both of you - no distractions. No electronic devices. You don't accept phone calls from anyone except your spouse. There is no TV on in the background to keep up with the football scores. The same goes for your child if they are old enough to control electronics. 

The time together is quality time which means you both are fully in the moment with each other. 

3. Unstructured 

Time together should often be open. And it doesn't mean you must always be having a conversation.  A silent walk holding hands is golden. Lying down together on a grassy knoll with eyes closed, taking in the sounds swirling around is priceless. 

I'm always one to incorporate spontaneous fun with educational games, creating a bonding experience. For example, while closed-eyed, open your ears, taking turns naming the plethora of
sounds in the air. Open your eyes to describe clouds - a classic game of imagination. Tell stories, taking turns. Laugh and roll in the grass, take your shoes off and dip into the lake. 
San Juan Islands

Relax, be natural and honest, smile, be funny and interesting. Ask open-ended questions about life to ponder and discuss, contemplate. 


Listen to your spirit as it opens up to your child's world of the here and now. Idle, idyllic stream of consciousness, with your child, often leads to deep and surprising discoveries. Your child may open up in unexpected ways and you may discover deep connections within yourself through unstructured quality time together. 

Combining one-on-one unstructured time together with total mindfulness is a simple, easy way to make profound, lasting connections with your child.

Here is a link to a wonderful article by a Montessori teacher who espouses similar sentiments, along with her three specific ideas for spending special moments with family.

Make it a special 2015 for the whole family,

Papa Green Bean