For a few days in early January, there is a sense that dramatic changes are indeed possible. They come in the form of New Year's resolutions. Despite the best intentions, however, it is often not long before those old habits have returned, and all of those positive changes are put into hibernation for yet another calendar year. That said, the arrival of the new year is still a good time to reflect on the past and plan for the future, especially for parents who are trying to make positive changes not only for themselves but also for their children.
Erin E. Mitchell is an educational consultant in San Jose, California, and the mother of two. She and her husband, Clifford, a school administrator, lead busy lives and are concerned that their children will get caught up in the whirlwind. "We are busy and goal-oriented people who waited so long to be blessed with kids, but it is surprisingly easy to take their presence for granted instead of just slowing down, watching them, and appreciating their existence," says Mitchell.
A New Year's goal for the Mitchell family is to simplify. "We started today by going through the toys we have collected in the last three years and getting rid of all the things that the kids no longer play with," says Mitchell. "We took the time to explain to our son, Matthew, that we were going to find some things that he could give to other kids who don't have toys. He actually helped us out, which is funny because he won't even give his sister a moldy Cheerio from the bottom of his toy box. We are planning to do this at least once a year, in hopes that even when the 'me stage' is over, the kids will be more appreciative, grateful, and respectful."
In addition to cleaning out the toy box, Mitchell wants her family to be able to take a collective deep breath and spend more time enjoying the moment. "Our children know that we love them, but I want to show them that they are truly the most important thing in the world to us," she says. "Our family traditions will start, and their memories will form, in the unhurried quality moments that we are able to spend with them. This year, it is all about that 'slow time.'"