A head is a new school year with all the ups and downs that can bring.
Hopefully everyone in the family got a bit of a break and a chance to unwind before launching into 2014. But before you do, here are two things to consider about 2013.
Did your youngsters manage to keep up with their commitments or did they struggle? In fact, did you struggle to keep up with their commitments?
If they managed to stay on top of their schoolwork and did reasonably well, had a couple of sports or activities, time for some social interaction, and weren't stressed out and often sick, then there's probably no problem.
If, on the other hand, they were often bad-tempered, your life seemed to be one kid's crisis after another, family time went out the window, getting schoolwork done involved late nights and you bailing them out, activities kept clashing with associated dramas from coaches and teachers, then it's probably a good time to take stock. Time to think about their expectations and your expectations of them and how best to get some balance into 2014.
The second consideration. Were you over-committed in 2013? Does your life need some balance? Do you have expectations of yourself that are unreasonable given there are only 24 hours in each day?
Are your commitments or material wants and what it takes to get them, driving the family apart rather than bringing them closer?
Have you forgotten that everyone needs a break every so often to keep things in perspective and to recharge?
The kids will be grown up and gone before you know it and they won't thank you for the things they had that meant they never saw you. Or the memories they don't have of time together.
An easy start to rectify this is regular relaxed eating together. It's amazing what you'll pick up about what's happening in your children's lives. It will allow you to support them and monitor their workloads.
Harder will be a reduction in commitments across the whole family. But the rewards are great. With more time to play and laugh together, you'll find out what's important to your kids. You'll have more chance of nipping potential problems in the bud; be better able to gauge what you can fairly expect of each of them academically; and get to know other strengths they might have.
Reducing your commitments might mean you don't have the latest car and holidays might be somewhat closer to home than Fiji or the Gold Coast; but you'll be home more often; you might play Monopoly for the first time in years; and your stress won't be mirrored in your children.
© Ian Munro 2014. All rights reserved.
- The Timaru Herald