Happy New Year! So, here we are. Another year. Another attempt to do all of those things that we promised ourselves we would conquer way back in 2018, 2019, 2020, and 2021. Sigh…… After 2020, we were CERTAIN that “next year will HAVE to be better”. Hmmm……… Perhaps it was in some ways. But life as we used to know it “way back when” (in 2019) seems to no longer exist. Now, we live in a world where we avoid crowds (or at least most of us do), we wash our hands more than we EVER have before, we put on our “mask armor” before we head out the door, and we head for the nearest exit, if we hear anyone sneeze or cough. It just seems that we have, as they say, reached that place commonly referred to as “The New Normal”.
OK. So here we are. Now what? What have you resolved to do to make this world – oh, and yourself - better in this new year? Exercise more and lose weight? Can we all just take a moment to have a good laugh and move on to the next thing on the list? Perhaps it was to spend more time doing things that you love to do? Wait. I think I can squeeze that in between the hours of 3:00AM and 4:00AM in my “free time”. Swear less? Oh well, I blew that one while trying to get the lights off the Christmas tree. Zero for three. But wait. Could I be a better parent? NOW, we’re getting somewhere!!!
The answer to that question is “ABSOLUTELY”! It takes NO extra time - although it does take some practice on the patience portion - to practice “the pause”. It does take some practice to pause for that moment and just not immediately, harshly react to that emotion that in the moment totally overwhelms us and can create chaos in all involved parties. Yes. We are overworked and overwhelmed. Yes. We are tired. Yes. Listening to the news is enough to make Superman bury his head in the sand. But that in no way is the fault of our children who feel the stress too. It’s important to remember that as trivial as what they say to you may be to YOU, it is the most important thing in the world to them…. And you are the ONE PERSON with whom they wish to share. Are we really too busy to take a few minutes out of our day to make eye to eye contact with them and LISTEN (without interruption) to their stories? What would it say to them that you took time away from what you are doing to REALLY listen to them? Well, it would say to them, “You matter”, “You’re worth it”, “I care about you”, and “Your stories are important to me.” It costs nothing, yet the rewards are totally beyond measure.
In this “New Normal” world, our children are forced into isolation. No man is an island. We (adults and children) were never meant to live in isolation. Teachers on computer screens have replaced those teachers who would stand at the door and welcome each and every one of them into class with a smile and words of encouragement. Sleepovers are quickly becoming a thing of the past: “So many germs.” Video games have replaced Red Rover, riding bicycles until dark, movie theaters….. You know, all those things that let kids be kids. Kids need to be outside. They need to run. They need to be with their friends. They need in-person school. They need all of those things…. But, more than anything, they need parents who hold on to family dinners, family values, boundaries, and being there to apply those band-aids when life (or playgrounds) throw them a curveball.
Can’t we all resolve that something that costs nothing but some small blocks of time carved out of our day, like resolving to be a better parent or grandparent, is time well spent as we move into 2022? We cannot singlehandedly change the world. But if we can change one life at a time, that’s how the world gets changed.
Written by Karen Hyatt, Grandparent, Guest Writer & JSS Parent Resource Consultant
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