1. Feeling pulled in different directions? Decide on your priorities for the next six months. Do you want to invest more time in your career? See more of your friends? Have more chill-out time at home? To achieve a good balance in life, it pays to stock and re-evaluate your priorities.
2. Identify your stress flashpoints and make a few simple tweaks. Mornings are often the trickiest time for parents. For a brighter start, get everyone up earlier (and to bed earlier). Lay out their uniform and make packed lunches the night to avoid an early morning panic. Also, make sure their school uniform is clearly labelled with our Personalised Name Stamps for sewing and ironing labels, to avoid any last-minute mix-ups. Nothing worse than reaching the playground with a little one drowning in her big sister’s giant cardigan 😳
3. Keep repeating yourself? The cycle of having to nag, bribe, threaten or shout just to get your children to do simple tasks is enough to drive anyone mad. One tried and tested method to improve co-operation is ‘descriptive praise’. Several times a day, take a few seconds to point out exactly what your children did right (or what they didn’t do wrong!). For instance, ‘Well done on doing what I asked first time/being gentle with your little brother/turning off the TV without making a fuss’ etc. The more you ‘descriptively praise’, the better their behaviour will be, making for a calmer, happier household.
4. Ring-fence 15 minutes a day to spend special one-on-one time with each child. Without the undercurrent of sibling rivalry and the pressure of being rushed, you’ll be able to enjoy each child at their best.
5. The temptation is to cram our children’s lives with clubs and activities, but this can end up being stressful for both of you. Like us, children need time to switch off and a spell of ‘boredom’ at home gives them a chance to daydream and let their imagination develop. Ask your children to pick their two or three favourite clubs, then slash the rest of the diary in 2019.
6. Crafts are a great way for children to relax and for you to bond as a family. Join in and you’ll be surprised how quickly you lose yourself in the moment. Have fun designing unicorns, butterflies and rainbows with our Sketch Kit. Little ones will love adding a Personalised touch with a Customised Craft Stamp to their creations too.
7. Set digital boundaries. If you’re a working parent, it’s important to train your colleagues and clients to respect your personal time. Avoid answering emails out of hours and don’t be afraid to switch off your phone. If you start to engage with work emails in your own time, it will soon become expected of you.
8. Play the listening game. At least once a week, spend half an hour sat down as a family, with each person taking turns to talk about whatever they like, whether it’s sharing a worry, an idea they’ve had or a reflection on their day. Resist the urge to ask questions, instead focus on listening. Afterwards, summarise what the speaker has said and see if they agree with it. Often we think we’ve listened, but we haven’t ‘heard’ properly.
9. If you don’t want to fork out for a babysitter, have a ‘date night’ at home. Perhaps you could have a rule not to talk about the kids during that time. Why not reminisce over old photos, play cards or plan your next holiday instead?
10. Be selfish sometimes. How can you expect to be on great form for your children, if you don’t look after yourself? Take time to read a book or watch your favourite programme. By restoring yourself, you’ll be better equipped to deal with whatever life throws at you. Here’s to a happy 2019!
Thanks to our expert panel:
• Noel Janis-Norton, director of www.calmerparenting.co.uk and author of ‘Calmer, Easier, Happier Parenting’ (Yellow Kite).
• Jo Howarth, speaker, author and founder of www.thehappinessclub.co.uk
• Hannah Martin, founder, www.talentedladiesclub.com