Parents' New Year's Resolutions

By Judy Lyden of The Scripps Howard News Service

New Year's resolutions should make life something to rise and shine about every day, but if they hit a snag, think about this: It could be environmental. Many resolutions go by the wayside not because of a lack of good intentions or even a lack of energy and perseverance. They go astray because no matter how much effort someone makes, they are set up for failure.

Restructuring family life begins with the foundation. You can't make better drawings with the same old crayons. You can't become neat without a place to organize the mess. You can't suddenly be on time if you don't have a watch and can't tell time. You can't lose weight if your meals contain only junk food.

I want to wake my child every morning with a smile on my face instead of yelling at him to get up at the last minute.''

Great resolution. Now here's how. Most people need at least seven hours of sleep. Living life on four, five and six hours of sleep only makes morning time something like a pinched nerve. Pinpoint bedtime by counting backward from the time you absolutely need to get up. Now ask yourself: What am I doing that last hour I'm up? If you answer, I'm watching TV,'' you are a candidate for real change. If you go to bed an hour earlier, you can get up an hour earlier.

Ouch, you say. No way. By getting up an hour earlier every morning, the amount of quality time you can spend on yourself, alone, to put your thoughts in order, to get ready for the day, will do more to put that smile on your face than all the TV you could watch.

I want to cook more for my child.''

This is another great resolution. Home cooking will add to a child's general health more than any other single thing besides sleep.

Cooking at home means reviving your nutritional interest in real food, trying new things and taking a chance on taste. Balancing what kids will eat and should eat is the trick. Did you know that canned spaghetti has no nutritional value? Did you know that heating spinach reduces its food value? There's a lot to learn.

Take it one step at a time. Buy a cookbook that's fun. Reorganize your kitchen, putting regular ingredients such as flour and sugar and oil where you can easily get to them. Make sure you always have eggs, butter, baking powder and soda in the house.

Buy a Crock-Pot or similar slow-cooker. Buy things that will fit into the cooker, such as chicken, pork and beef pieces. In that hour in the morning, it will take five minutes to put the meat, a smattering of baby carrots, and a potato for everyone in the cooker. Add 2 cups of water, a handful of beef or chicken bouillon, some spaghetti spice, a squeeze of ketchup and you've got dinner.

I want to pick up my child early once a week and just do something ordinary.''

A first-rate resolution for those who can set their own hours.

Something ordinary can be something first-rate and special if the intent is there.

What about grocery shopping? Kids love the grocery store. And they love being with Mom or Dad. The grocery store is a food palace for kids. Let them pick out fruit and snacks for the week.

Caring for your child is your primary interest as a parent. Make your time count for both you and your child.

(Judy Lyden is a licensed day-care provider. Write to her:
c/o The Evansville Courier, P.O. Box 268, Evansville, IN
47702, or e-mail to

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