New Years Resolutions and Challenges for the Boys

I'm always ambivalent about making new years resolutions but this year I made some clear ones as well as what steps I need to take in order to be successful. Six weeks in, I feel like I'm doing pretty well.

2018 resolutions:

  • Read a book per month - this sounds so easy, right? I love to read but unfortunately, every time I sit down to read, I always think of something else I need to do, check facebook, etc., and before I know it, my time to read is gone. I got off to a good start by reading several books over the holidays down in Florida. Thanks to some steps for the next challenge, I now try to read before bed and many nights I do. It also helped that there were several weeks in January when I seemed to finally have a handle on my to-do list. Then it got busy again so reading fell by the wayside, but overall I'm exceeding my goal of a book a month and have read 5 books so far in 2018!
  • Reduce my time on my phone. This is always tricky. As a mom, there are always moments of downtime, but generally that's all they are, moments. Not long enough to actually do something, but enough time to check my email or scroll through facebook. I'm definitely not the mom who's on her phone the whole time at the park, but I find that I do check my phone multiple times a day out of habit. I tried several apps to help manage my time online and honestly, none of them had exactly what I was looking for, which was to cut off access to facebook or instagram after I reached a daily max I set, and no social media after 9pm. The apps I found were tracking all my time on my phone -- including when I had an app open for a hour while cooking, or even when reading a book on my phone. It wasn't much help. I still have progress to make, but I think I've done well with not using social media at night and instead reading. I think it's toughest when I'm tired after taking Colette out all morning and sit down while she plays a bit before her nap. It's hard for me to do much more than scroll through social media but I may try to at least read my book on my phone instead.
  • Go to bed earlier. Before the holidays when I had so much to do with the boys Kindergarten stuff in addition everything else, there were nights I wasn't getting to bed until well after midnight. There have been a few late nights here or there, but in general, I'm getting to bed closer to 10:30.
  • Pray more with the boys. I do need to work this into the bedtime routine more, so that it does become routine, but I'm only remembering sometimes. I think it's important for them to recognize the good things that are happening each day and to thank God, and to also pray for help for themselves or others.
  • Special time with the kids. Dave and I see the difference when the boys get one on one time with just me and one of them. It's hard to fit this time in, but it's the way I've most been using Jessica lately -- she's staying with two of the kids while I take one of them to do whatever they want to do. We've gone to the beach -- one week it was hot so I took each of them on a different day. Sometimes it's going to the bookstore for just 15 minutes. They both love the time and I feel like it makes such a difference in their overall behavior and attitudes. 
  • Take a breath before yelling. This will always be a work in progress, especially on those days that they're just getting at each other endlessly, no one is listening, etc. But I feel like I do think about this and try to get down to their level and speak sternly instead of just yelling.

I also wanted to introduce new years resolutions to the boys and the idea that there are always things that people want to work on and improve. Dave and I discuss major issues that need to be worked on but we try to focus on one thing at a time so they don't get overwhelmed. I created a paper with general themes of 'Be Kind, Be Helpful, No Bad Attitude and Be Welcoming'. But I also wanted to introduce more personal goals so came up with the idea of a 'weekly challenge', something different for each of them so it would take away some of the competition. The idea was if they made noticeable progress, meaning they weren't perfect but overall things had improved, then they would get a special outing with me. They love special time, but I also wanted to make it clear that they would get other special time with me regardless of if they met the challenge or not. I really just didn't want to make a toy, a show, or other treat the 'reward' and instead have it be a fun activity.

For William, I think he expected improving his attitude to be his first challenge. But I wanted to throw him off so instead I asked him to be as kind and helpful as possible for the next week.  He did awesome! Although he wasn't perfect, no one is, he went out of his way to play with Colette, to help me and Jessica, to do things the first time I asked, etc. I had a special activity I had heard about from a friend and was so excited to take him. It was an art shop where they work one-on-one with the kids to show them how to draw the picture of their choosing step-by-step. William did great and the teacher commented on how his was much more focused and a better listener than others his age or even older. He really enjoyed it and loved that we got to go do it just the two of us.

For George, his first challenge was to keep things out of his mouth. G often has his fingers in his mouth, will chew on his sleeve, mindlessly put a toy in his mouth, etc. It's not to the point that it's worrying, his teachers don't notice, etc., but he seems to get sick more often, or is the first to get sick, so we're really trying to keep dirty hands and objects out of his mouth. He did okay. After the first week, I said he needed to keep working on it as I still caught him with something in his mouth at least once a day. He was disappointed but agreed and did seem motivated to try. I would gently remind him when I saw him and he'd immediately stop.

I also told the boys that they could give me a challenge each week too which I hoped would get them more on board with the idea that everyone has something to work on. The first one they gave me was 'not to get mad' and I guess I did well as when week 2 rolled around, they said I had done a good job and didn't need a new challenge. Then we came up with 'more patience getting them to school.' Hard to do when no one listens and I have to ask the same thing about a million times! But I'm working on it...

The challenges continue week by week and the idea is to keep up what they've worked on in the past and add to it. Other ideas I have for challenges are: give Coco space/respect her body, eat more veggies, eat more fruits, listening/stop when someone asks you to stop, set the table without being asked, be a neater eater.

Overall, I think things are going pretty well, but likely anything, the more consistency, the better it works. I think it's nice for each to have one thing they're focusing on, and if there is a success, it's recognized with more special time together.