Balancing School and Family, Student Life

Starting Your Year Off Fresh

It seems like every time that January rolls around we promise ourselves to eat better, make more time for our family and friends, and to end our procrastination for good. Often times, the goals that we make are too lofty or unachievable and so after a few weeks are slowly let go. When making year-long intentions it’s important to start small. As well, they tend to work best when you consider making ones that work with your schedule and commitments. That way, you won’t experience the discouragement of not being able to keep them.

Here’s our list of 7 resolutions that involve the entire family. Better yet? It’s largely UofT-specific!

1. Expand your network – Being a parent- especially a student parent- can be isolating at times. Attending Family Care Office events is a great way to meet other student parents. We sometimes host kid-specific activities (U Can Move & Varsity Hockey Game), so even your little ones can make new friends! Another great spot is Hart House, which hosts free Family Sundays once a month.  And… are you in Graduate Studies? Then access U of T’s Grad Talks to build skills and gain balance!

Family Care Office text graphic with cartoon depictions of diverse families

2. Practice mindfulness – Mindfulness affects tangible, positive change in both children and adults’ management of their emotions. Parent Toolkit does a great job breaking down how to incorporate a practice of mindfulness into your family’s routine. One of their suggestions is creating a “‘mindfulness corner’” in a main area to act as a “zone of peace.” Another involves fridge notes that remind you to: “NOTICE emotions, NAME the emotion, ACCEPT what is going on, and BREATHE before jumping into action.” If you’re on-campus, make time to drop-in to the free meditation and yoga classes as your schedule allows.

3. Practice self-care – Schedule a block of time for weekly self-care, but try to ensure that you initiate mini-moments of the practice daily. This could include a family activity like reading a story together, but should also involve time designated for you alone. In these moments you can step away from your role as student/caregiver/etc. and just be you.

E-reader atop of colourful notebook with eyeglasses and ceramic mug beside it.

4. Be physically active – In case you aren’t able to make use of the University’s free drop-in recreation programs, make it a point to be physically active each day. Where possible, walk with your family instead of taking transit. Also, check out  the Athletic Centre schedule for low-cost drop-in family skating, squash and table tennis, and fun swim!

5. Focus on your mental health– Need support talking through family care-specific issues? You can always drop-in to see one of our Peer Mentors, or book a confidential one-on-one appointment with a Family Care Office Advisor. Our Mentors are available in-office twice a week and/or can be assigned specifically to you.

6. Get on-top of your budget– The Family Care Office is here to help you understand the financial resources made available at the University of Toronto as well as government benefits and tax credits. Check out the  Dollars for Daycare grant, a needs-based bursary open to full-time or part-time University of Toronto undergraduate students (including international students!) or peruse the financial resources section on our website to learn about additional resources.

7. Schedule weekly family meetings – Planning a weekly family meeting is something that many of our Peer Mentors swear by. This is because it allows everyone to slow down and to communicate with each other, work through any conflicts that have arisen, and plan the weekend!

Yellow sofa with gray pillow pictured from birds eye view.

These seven resolutions, with a bit of work, can be applied anytime throughout the year -January isn’t the only time to set goals! We hope that you and your family adopt whichever intentions work best for you, and that together you keep each other on track.

Let us know how it goes!