As the New Year draws near, I look back at 2014 to evaluate the areas of success for my family, as well the opportunities for improvement. Wearing both my pediatrician and mom hats, four family resolutions come to mind that I will work on with my family in 2015. These resolutions may be relevant for your family, too.
Family Resolution 1: More family meals
There are so many benefits to the family meal. On the whole, family meals are healthier than restaurant food. In preparing meals at home, we tend to make much better food choices: increased servings of fruits and vegetables, smaller portion sizes and more lean proteins.
Another important benefit is the opportunity for more interaction, conversation and communication with our children. This gives us insight into their daily lives and into the people they are becoming, which allows us to focus our parenting more to their specific needs. It also provides our children similar insights into us as individuals and how we tackle life as adults.
Family Resolution 2: Get out and move
As the cold Chicago winter ramps up, we all tend to be more sedentary. Don’t hibernate! Cold, fresh air is good for kids and adults. Bundle up and take the time for a brisk walk with your kids. Enjoy the outdoor sports of the season, not to mention activities, such as sledding and snowball fights. They will be here before we know it and present great opportunity to develop family memories.
Family Resolution 3: Put away the tech
Our phones, computers, tablets and other devices decrease personal interactions with our children, family members and friends. If your kids truly love video games, learn to play them, as well. No matter how poorly you think you might perform, remember it’s not about winning.
Beating a parent at a game makes kids realize their potential and can go a long way toward developing self-esteem. Seize that opportunity along with the chance to have fun interactions doing something together. However, everything in moderation. There is no substitute for reading to and with your child, and letting your kids see you read as well.
Family Resolution 4: Keep up to date with your child’s vaccines
As a parent and pediatrician, I have experienced the vast, positive change in the health of children due to vaccines. Many of the common infectious diseases that used to cause severe health problems for thousands of children, including meningitis and pneumonia, now rarely cause serious disease. Granted, the influenza vaccine this year has been less effective for certain strains of flu than had been hoped. Yet, this year’s flu vaccine is the rare exception when compared to the many, many vaccines that have had a positive, life-long impact on the health of children. Take the time to discuss vaccines with your physician.
Have a happy, healthy holiday season and all the best in 2015.