New Year's Resolutions Part I
Generally, I think making New Year's resolutions is a fairly pointless exercise, but I still do it almost every year--I like the idea of a fresh start. And as a mother, I really, really like the idea of a fresh start (but not if it involves having a fresh baby. Not gonna happen), because as much as it may seem (or maybe not) that I am comfortable with being a slightly disastrous mom--that I am a little too cool for mom school--the fact is, like pretty much every mother I know, I am wracked with guilt much of the time over my shortcomings. Here's the deal: We (almost) all have a sense of how to be a good mom, what to do and not do, etc. Vegetables are a yes, massive amounts of TV, a no. But actually DOING those things, consistently, day after day, week after week, year after year--all while being violently resisted and psychologically tortured much of the time--well, it turns out it is harder than you would think. So then we fail and screw up, and then we feel bad. And then our children probably turn out fine anyway. But that is besides the point.
In any case, in our household, we have established many, many bad habits and have failed to establish critical good habits, and I would like to believe that in 2014 we could maybe change a few things. So, I'm going to lay out an overly ambitious family makeover plan here with the mind that if we do even one of these things, we can count it as a victory (right?) My idea is that we work on one thing each month, then the next month, continue that good thing and add on another. I can audibly hear the scoffing and laughter in my head. Part II of this process is that I will blog about it (I can audibly hear the cheers of millions of fans all over the world. Oh wait, that's also coming from inside my head). This will provide not only accountability for the makeover, it will hopefully mean I have at least 12 blog entries next year instead of 5 (pathetic!). And that will change my life...somehow..?
Absolute top priority for 2014 is getting a handle on the screen time/technology addiction, preferably before Lawson's check up with the super strict pediatrician later in the month, the one who actually asks you about screen time and then tsk tsks you for it (has he ever spent an entire day locked in a house with two small children? I think NOT). It is completely out of control, for all of us. Charlotte could be a kids' film critic for the LA Times (although I can't say she's terribly discriminating; she even liked Little Mermaid 2 for pity's sake). Meanwhile, Lawson goes through violent withdrawal when his iPod runs out of batteries. As for me, I am ashamed to say I spend most of my days mindlessly flipping through apps on my iPhone. It's like that thing is grafted to my hand. I can't even get through an entire show on Netflix without skipping out to check my email, the weather forecast, do a google search, Facebook, SOMETHING. My attention span has winnowed down to that of a Yorkie on meth. And we won't talk about Kevin, because he is an introvert, and we are not allowed. But let me just say that it's bad. It's real bad.
Doing something about this is complicated by the fact that we have perhaps foolishly gotten the kids a Wii for Christmas. I don't know why we would have done this, they don't even know what a Wii is and therefore can't imagine that they want it, but we probably got it for the same reason we have gotten all their other toys/games/tech and that is so they will LEAVE US THE H*** ALONE. Which they still don't, but we keep hoping. I do think the Wii might be slightly better than TV and iPods because a lot of the games do involve at least standing up, so perhaps it is progress on the obesity front, if not the ADHD front.
So here's the plan so far, still in formulation. For the kids: They can each have no more than 2 hours per day of screen time of any kind, because that is the recommendation of the experts, but the Wii counts on a .5 basis. I realize that some of you are appalled, because 2 hours a day sounds like a lot to you, but let me assure you that in our house, this is actually an ambitious goal (sad to say). For me, too, I am going to try to go mostly cold turkey with my phone, we'll see, that may cause seizures. For Kevin, we won't go there, because we don't have the energy, and we are not allowed. But here is the most radical and important element of the tech addiction recovery plan: NO-TECH SUNDAYS. Yes. No TV, no Wii, no phones (unless we are talking on it to a loved one), no email, nada. Just old fashioned family togetherness. Let the weeping and wailing begin, and I expect the kids won't be too thrilled either. The exception to the tech rule is that anytime the public would be endangered by a lack of technology (restaurants, planes, etc), all rules are suspended. We must think of others.
Now things are going to get really terrible, because not only will we continue with the technology rules, we will add better eating. Yes, I know, I might as well send my children to a Russian orphanage (and don't think I haven't considered it). Kevin and I actually eat pretty well, although I am hoping to stop eating so much sugar. But this is more aimed at getting tough with the kids, who now eat a grand total of 5 things, none of them bearing any natural color to speak of and none of them actually cooked by me, not because I don't cook but because my children are apparently terrified that I plan to poison them one day (and don't think I haven't considered it). Their first rule in eliminating items from their diet is whether or not Mommy cooked it. If she did, it is automatically inedible. Seriously, they will eat a bean burrito from Taco Bell, but they won't touch a homemade one. I actually take it quite personally, I think they sense how much I hate cooking and how much effort it is for me, and they see this as their big chance to stick it to me. So I am putting them on notice, and this is actually not primarily about their physical health, I think they are probably fine and not going to die from chicken nugget overdose. This is about my mental health, because there is nothing that sends me over the cliff faster than nobody eating what I cook. And most importantly, this is about winning. And I. Am. Going. To. Win. Period.
So this is what is going to happen. Every dinner, EVERY DINNER, will consist of homemade food (at times leftovers). It will be served. There will be no choice. There will be no bribery with dessert. There will be no dessert. There will be no begging and pleading. You either eat it, or you don't. If you don't, you may see it again tomorrow night. I pledge not to make anything too weird or crazy or spicy or offensive or hippie. But You. Will. Eat. My. Cooking. Period. And that DOES go for Kevin, too. If I am going to cook, people out there better eat it. And if they don't, starvation is the least of their fears, trust me about that.
OK, that is all the time I have for today's installment. Stay tuned for New Year's Resolutions Part II. ...How much Dickensian can it get? We shall see.