It’s that festive time of the year again for some. Thoughts go to what happened this year. One of the main things you probably did differently this year is how you actually consumed your news. It’s been a year of tragedy and happiness and you probably read about both of them on your smartphone, tablet or laptop rather than a newspaper or television.
Technology has really become an integral part of our lives, for better and for worse. The access we have to information now has changed our world, we are more informed, more knowledgeable and more connected. We have the ability to stay in touch with family and friends thousands of miles away through that small screen we take with us everywhere. There are so many positives to the influence of technology and we are big advocates of the educational value some of this technology brings.
However, we are also painfully aware of how much time we (children and adults) are spending on these devices and what are we sacrificing as a result of this? So we’ve come up with 5 New Years Resolutions for you – all of which have a theme. That theme is your involvement in your children’s lives, online and offline.
We are all very busy, we understand that, but we really have to make an effort to allocate ourselves more time as a family. 2016 will mark a year where technology plays an even bigger part in our lives and the potential for us to get lost in screen time is high. Take it back a few decades and if you don’t already. Plan the family meal into your days. This means sitting down at a table and cooking (order in, if you have to, but there is nothing quite a home cooked meal) and making time to actually talk to each other as a family. Our children learn and copy from us, so if they see that rushing down some food on the go is how we do it, it’s how they will do it. It also means that in order to save time, they will always answer the question, ‘How was your day?’ with the epitome of child like answers. Fine!
‘Fine’ stands for – Feelings Inside Not Expressed – we need more family time so that our little ones can express their feelings and know that mum and dad are there to help and support them and that you are making time specifically for them, it shows them that they are the priority.
Part of giving yourself more family time is so that you can do exactly this – Listen. It’s sometimes incredible what we learn, not just from our children, but from all those around us, when we actively listen to what is being said. We make the right noises and nod or shake our heads at the right time, but are we actually listening? If we are honest, the answer to that question is often no, after all we are exceptionally busy with what is going on in our Facebook or Snapchat lives, so who has time to listen to their children these days? Well in 2016, you are, because you are going to make time to listen to what they have to say and encourage them to open up further with open questions that start with ‘how’ ‘why’ and ‘what’.
If we are listening, this resolution will be a lot easier for us too 🙂 If we start asking open questions that allow our children to express their opinion and we listen, we can involve them in some, not all, of the decision making process. We can get them to share what they would like to do and where they would like to go, what we are going to have for dinner and so on. We are not saying that this has to happen all the time, after all most families are not a democracy and at the end of the day you are the parents and your say so goes, not everything is a negotiation and you put your foot down when you have to, making sure to explain why their suggestion this time just isn’t possible.
Yes we have chosen to live in the desert, yes it does get pretty warm, but no, that doesn’t mean we are confined to the indoors. For 8 months of the year the country we call home is the perfect outdoor playground with temperatures just perfect for exploring. As technology and screens take over, show your children the wonders of the night sky when there is no ambient light. A little camping expedition into the dunes (doesn’t have to be far) and toasting marshmallows over the fire can be a memory that lasts a lifetime. It might also sow that seed of an outdoor lifestyle for your little one. If that’s a bit too adventurous then start with more time on the beach, swimming, long walks by the beach (the track that runs from Burj Al Arab to the big flag pole is a great place to walk – with plenty of chances for fresh juices, water stops and maybe even an ice cream as a treat) or during the winter months a picnic in the park with a ball or a frisbee makes for a great outdoor break from the screen.
Easy to say we know but as our world changes at an exponentially faster rate, our children seem to grow up faster. They are now at risk of things that didn’t even exist when many parents were children themselves – technology and social media have lead to an increase in things like cyberbullying. But all being said, whilst our primary objective is always to cater to and protect our children, we don’t need to wrap them in cotton wool and shield them from the world. This is the world they are going to live in, hopefully for a lot longer than we are. They are going to fall, just as we did as children and mum and dad’s job is to help pick them up.
Our children grow up so fast, it’s important to make the most of the time we have with them and not get too hung up on what we should be doing, so keep your resolution writing time short, and get out their and turn the words into actions with your little ones!