I intend to be much more present with my children. This has been on my mind for a while: I don't want to be a distracted parent or put a screen between my children and me. They notice.
I've seen people put away their phones entirely, or even delete Facebook or other apps off them, but my plan is simply to only use the phone when I'm either looking something up (that's relevant at the time) or when someone important calls / sends a message.
- Sit-down family meals
I didn't grow up sitting around a table to eat. It feels alien to me, even though in my "second family" (my aunt's, where I lived age 15-18) it was absolutely the done thing; it never became normal to me. Somehow sitting around a table to eat feels formal, stiff, official. But Mr. has been asking for a while, and so I'm ready to give it a go... and for the kids' sake as well, of course. As they grow older I can easily imagine us all sitting around a dinner table and talking about our day, having a real family connection time.
I've also been bothered about how I eat a few bites of leftovers here, a little bit of this and that while standing up and walking around, totally distracted and not even tasting any of it. I want to eat more consciously. So it's for myself as well, I want to try to eat at a table most of the time, concentrate on eating the food and really enjoy it.
N (3) talks, and talks a lot - in English. I find it very hard to speak German to someone who responds in English! And I'm beginning to see her not understanding some of the things I say, and then I have to repeat them in English. If I keep going this way, it'll only get harder! So, my resolution for this year is to consistently speak German with my kids; certainly when we're on our own, but also when I'm speaking only to them when others are around. I feel odd about this, it feels rude to speak a foreign language in front of people who don't understand... but I do think it's necessary because otherwise it's just not consistent enough for them.
- Minimal new purchases
I'm 90% there already, but this year again I purpose to buy nothing new except for food. Almost all our furniture which we bought in 2017 (with the exception of certain clever Ikea storage we just can't do without) is second hand, all my clothes and most of the kids' are, and toys too. I plan to continue being mindful and only ever buying new when I find no workable alternative in charity shops or online.
- No TV for the kids without Mr
This one explains itself... I do turn it on rarely, but it's been increasing because N3 has been asking for it more and more. There's value in it because we watch German programmes, I tell myself; but I think it's better to cut it right down. I don't like my children looking like zombies as they're spellbound by what's happening on the screen. I want them to play.
Mr takes the kids downstairs with him in the morning to give me a bit more time to stay in bed, and on weekdays as he gets ready for work he does rely on the TV to keep the kids occupied so he can get on with things. That's going to be the only designated TV time for them now.
- TV-less adult night
And for us adults, we've come to rely on the TV pretty much every night. I put the kids to bed and when I come downstairs, Mr will have tea ready and we'll watch something. It's a nice routine, but it's not great for connecting with each other. So while the family dinner table will help with connection, we'll also purposely keep the telly off (at least) one night a week to actually... talk. Or play games. Or read. Anything but the box!
- Go outside more
I'm not great at going outside, especially in the winter. I hate being cold. I don't know what to do when outside, and the kids aren't really ready to occupy themselves outside. They look to me to play with or tell them what to do, and I have no idea! So we're all cold and miserable outside, as well as bored. Not a great combination! In one way I'm planning to let myself off the hook in the cold season, so I'm not going to set any legalistic targets or requirements - naturally when the weather gets better I'll go out much more with them. But even in the cold, I purpose to make more of an effort.
All of these resolutions aim at making us the family we hope to be - connected with each other, rather than with TVs or devices. Treading lightly in terms of our resources.