New Year’s wrap-up

During the weeks before Christmas, various ideas for blog posts were swirling around in my head, but I just didn’t have time to sit down and write.  Things continued fast and furious up to the day we left on our trip for New York on December 21.  Despite the busy-ness and mixed sense of excited anticipation and impending doom, we did remarkably well on the packing and preparation-for-departure front.  In fact, I’m pretty proud of all of us for our generally stellar attitudes and sense of adventure throughout the trip.  Top on the list, I must give kudos to Dirk for not completely losing it on our NINE HOUR DRIVE from Mt. Kisco, New York to Washington, D.C. through driving rain, strong winds, and relentless stop-and-go traffic.  Very impressive, indeed.

Now, the holidays have passed, the new year is upon us, resolutions are being formulated, and I am itching to write — but where to begin?

For the sake of expedience, I’m going to go with a numbered list:

1) Family travels:  By and large, the kids did really well with our whirlwind holiday itinerary, which involved tons of driving, numerous transitions, meeting new people, interacting with relatives, and tiring days trekking around two major cities —  New York and Washington, D.C.  Reflecting on the trip, I appreciate the kids’ resilience and good spirits.  Highlight:  How quick and easy they were in their interactions with other children we met along the way.  (I managed to squeeze in visits with three good friends from law school in a two-to-three day period at the end of the trip, and they all had kids who Zoe and Alexander played with).  This was so nice to see!

Sightseeing highlights:  The train show at New York Botanical Garden in the Bronx — beautiful and magical and, because of the abnormally warm weather for December, it was a great day to stroll around the garden. 

In Washington, D.C.:  The photography exhibit “Ocean Soul” at National Geographic Headquarters — gorgeous, spectacular, and educational — a feast for the eyes!  And free, which we didn’t realize when we paid for our tickets to go into the museum (the tickets allowed us to get into two other exhibits, but the photography exhibit was, by far, the best).

(snip from Brian Skerry photograph)

2) Positive Discipline:  I love this book!  I started re-reading it today.  It literally makes me laugh and cry.  Here is a link to the Positive Discipline website, which includes tons of articles, resources, ideas:  Positive Discipline; Creating Respectful Relationships in Homes and Schools.  Really, though, the best way to become familiar with Positive Discipline concepts is to read the original book by Jane Nelsen.  As the new year begins, it feels good to re-visit this wonderfully compassionate parenting guide.  Some of the basic principles: allow children to have input into developing solutions; treat children with dignity and respect;  use kindness and firmness at the same time; use encouragement; see mistakes as opportunities to learn and, one of my favorites:  Being kind means being respectful to both you and your child.

3) A new approach to school nights:  After a quick pre-Christmas poll of my Facebook friends, about half of whom do not allow any screen time on school nights, I felt emboldened to make a big change in our weekday evening routine (which we’ve continued to struggle with throughout the fall).  Beginning this week when the kids go back to school, there will be no “screen time” on school nights, regardless of whether homework has been completed.  I’ve found that the draw of television (or computer time) adds an unhealthy element of tension to our evenings on school nights, leading to hurried homework, angst, and frustration.  Time to do things differently.  Instituting a policy for the kids, unilaterally, without their input, does not really comply with the principles of Positive Discipline.  But the bottom line is that grades need to improve, and I can’t stand the unpleasantness of our current system.  So I’m doing it.  And I’m kind of excited.  Kids have been informed, and there’s been some discussion.  To my shock and amazement, they did not immediately throw themselves on the floor and start screaming in protest.  More on how it works out in a future post.  In the meantime, I’ve allowed total screen-time overload since we got back from our trip (in hopes of saturating them?)…  Bleh!

4) The new year:  So here it it:  2012.  In the interest of full disclosure, I’ll admit, I absolutely believe in making new year’s resolutions and harbor no cynicism for any goal, ambition, or scheme, despite the fact that many of these new resolves will undoubtably fall by the wayside sooner or later (sometimes almost immediately).  I find resolutions  inspiring and illuminating.  I’ve seen that incremental tweaks often lead to great improvements in quality of life and, sometimes, unexpectedly, to more significant realizations and changes.  For me, in 2012, this pretty much means more of the same — only, hopefully, better!  I’ve slightly revised my simple daily goals.  Flossing is still included (!) and, of course, exercise — but I’ve removed a few things and added a few, including “doing something creative”.  hmm…  Internal challenges (within my control):  wasting time “playing” on my iPod and just generally being slack.  External challenges (outside of my control):  financial stress (bleh!) and, of course, the kids, who I can never control and must keep trying to embrace that utter (and marvelous?) lack of control while becoming better at finding ways to teach, guide, inspire and accept them.  Whew!

So, signing off with another mantra:  clear head; peaceful heart; energetic body…  (easy, right???)

And wishing everyone a happy and healthy new year!

Please share your resolutions, if you like.  Seeing what other people are doing and thinking provides inspiration and great ideas!

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2 thoughts on “New Year’s wrap-up

  1. I’ve considered the screen time dilemma too. However, because I do so much of my work online (lesson planning, grades, my digital scrapbooking, and freelancing) I hesitate to ban the kids when I myself can’t go without my computer (TV I could turn off easily). What do you think??

    • Good point, Sue. I think it’s legitimate for your adult rules for screen time to be different than the rules for the kids, especially if your computer needs are work-related. I usually don’t use the computer much in eve before the kids go to bed, so that’s not too much of an issue for me — but I have thought about my level of engagement with the kids on week nights and how I want to make myself more available to do things with them on these non-screen-time eves. I was talking abt this w another friend who’s also a working mom,and she groaned, “But I don’t WANT to play with them!” yeah… we’ll see…

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