New Year’s resolutions for the lazy

12/29/2011 5:00 AM

12/29/2011 8:05 AM

Here’s a little thought that’s been bouncing around my weary, post-holiday brain:

How can the same universe that spawned a shapeless sloth-sack known as the “Forever Lazy” be so intent on making sure we spend our late Decembers focused on self-improvement, resolving to be slimmer, fitter, kinder, smarter, smoke-free specimens of human perfection?

I mean, you could have just received a Forever Lazy for Christmas from some friend or family member who loves you and knows how much you love to be lazy. (I didn’t, but I’m not complaining, as I still use and cherish last year’s Snuggie.)

You could have just finished washing the holiday dishes or vacuumed the needles under your dying Christmas tree. Perhaps you finally figured out how to operate the Forever Lazy’s drop-seat feature – “zippered hatches in front and back for great escapes when duty calls!” – and were just about to lie down, grab the remote and, you know, GET LAZY!

And what happens? New Year’s resolutions.

Talk about a kick in the drop-seat.

I have no problem with New Year’s resolutions in general. I’ve made plenty over the years. I’ve sat down with my husband and kids and talked about changes we’d like to make before hanging the new calendar on the kitchen wall. We’ve pledged to walk more, learn more, cook more, clean more, save more, see more, do more.

This year, I’m thinking less is more.

Maybe it’s the Snuggie talking, but I’m tired of exhausting promises. With a husband, a house, two kids, two dogs and a full-time job, my to-do list overflows. As another year approaches, it makes more sense to pull in the reins than to ready the whip.

I’m not saying families should shun exercise or other admirable goals, such as planting a garden or volunteering together. Life is about balance. But if, like me, you yearn to slow down and enjoy the ride, here are a few legitimate resolutions you and your family could make – and keep – without leaving the couch:

•  Read more. Reading to children even just 15 minutes a day has been shown to raise test scores, improve listening skills and set kids on a path toward success in school. And what’s more relaxing then snuggling together with a book? Older children should see you reading, so create a comfy reading spot and designate some regular reading time.
•  Model manners. Pledge to be more sincere and thankful for everyday things. Say “please” and “thank you” more often at home. For example: “Could you please fetch me a glass of water?” and “Thanks for mowing the lawn today.” (See what I did there? The kids are fetching you water and mowing the lawn.)
•  Get more sleep. You can see it in your children’s eyes – and hear it in their tempers – when they don’t get enough sleep. Same goes for you. So pledge to be more consistent with bedtimes, particularly on weeknights.

Experts recommend that children 1 to 3 years old get 12 to 14 hours of sleep a day (including naps); children 3 to 6, 10 1/2 to 12 hours; kids 7 to 12, 10 to 11 hours; and teens, 8 1/2 to 9 1/2 hours a day. Adults? I don’t have any hard data, but it can’t hurt to get as much sleep as you can muster.

•  Embrace boredom. While organized activities such as sports, dance and music lessons can teach valuable skills, time at home to veg out is just as important. Experts suggest allowing youngsters plenty of time for free, imaginative play. Get older kids involved in physical and mental activities that allow them to think, such as knitting, puzzles, exercise or even meditation.

About Suzanne Tobias

Suzanne writes about family life on Thursdays. She has covered local news for The Eagle since 1990. Suzanne is a native of North Carolina and earned an English degree from North Carolina State University.

Find her on Twitter: @suzannetobias

Contact Suzanne at 316-268-6567 or by emailing her at stobias@wichitaeagle.com

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