New Year's Resolutions for Parents
How to be better to your kids – and yourself – in 2014 by breaking bad habits and without adding more to your plate.
As moms, we have a lot on our plate already, so let's not make New Year's resolutions to do even more. Instead, let's resolve to do less by breaking bad habits. Here are some suggestions for a better 2014.
1. Log off
We spend a lot of time figuring out ways to limit our children's screen time, but what about our own?
This year, let's take an honest look at how many hours each day we're devoting to media instead of our kids. Do we really need to play another level of Candy Crush? Or check our Facebook news feed again? Is posting cute photos of our children to Instagram the best way to show our love?
Yes, our devices keep us entertained during those long soccer practices, but maybe it's time to turn off, tune in and watch our child on the field instead.
2. Stop comparing ourselves to other parents
Constantly checking to see how we stack up usually leads to jealousy, self-doubt and second-guessing. And we moms are experts at it.
We seek out each other for inspiration and advice but can be left feeling bad about ourselves for a variety of perceived shortcomings. We didn't breastfeed as long as her. We're not as thin or pulled together. Our house isn't as nice.
In the New Year, let's try to flip the script that runs through our head and resolve to be more supportive of other moms we admire and forgiving of ourselves. We're all different – and that's a good thing.
3. Stop being a martyr
The purest definition of a martyr is someone who chooses to die for a cause. The term also applies to someone who makes a great show of suffering in order to arouse sympathy.
Too often, we moms play martyr by sacrificing me-time and blaming our families instead of ourselves. It's not their fault that we don't stick with an exercise plan or take time to get together with friends.
Let's resolve to take responsibility for our own choices. It doesn't make us better moms to ignore our own needs. In fact, it's the opposite – and it's not a good model for our daughters.
4. Land the helicopter
It's time to stop hovering over every aspect of our children's lives. Yes, it's important to monitor their performance in school and be there if they need something, but it's not wise to get over-involved in an effort to prevent them from making mistakes.
We're not doing our kids any favors if we never allow them to try – and maybe fail – by themselves. It starts with letting them make their own peanut butter sandwiches and teaching them how to wipe the jelly off the floor. After all, we won't always be there to clean up the mess.
5. Don't skimp on bedtime
No matter how old your child is, taking time to tuck them in is a great way to bond. Being there at the end of each day and creating a quiet space to talk establishes security and intimacy that will make them feel trusting enough to tell you things they might not otherwise share. It's also a great time to read out loud to your child.
We all know how easy it is to rush through the routine, often out of sheer exhaustion, but let's resolve to snuggle in or pull up a chair and listen.
6. Don't eat off your child's plate
Resolving to lose weight is a common New Year's resolution, and the easiest mom diet in the world is to stop eating everything our children don't finish.
Avoid the temptation to down those cold chicken nuggets or half-nibbled fries. Give yourself permission to throw them away. Let's face it: They taste terrible and they're definitely not worth the calories.
7. Buy fewer toys
If you're like me, you're still trying to manage all the gifts your children got for the holidays. And while we're putting those expensive toys away, it's easy to marvel at how little play value they truly offer.
Remember that as the months wear on, and instead of bringing home more plastic playthings, invest in art supplies, gather materials to recycle into projects and get out those old board games that are gathering dust in the closet. Let's resolve to spend time, not money, on our kids. After all, that's what they really want from us, anyway.
8. Stop overcommitting to activities
The next time someone asks us to join a club or sign up for a new sport, let's stop and think about the commitment it's really going to take and whether it's going to add to our family's quality of life. There are only so many hours in the day, and too often us moms get so caught up in trying to meet the demands of extracurriculars, we lose sight of why.
In 2014, let's limit the nights we pass fast food to the back seat on the way to a game, and sit down together for a home-cooked meal instead. Let's reflect on where the constant movement is really getting us and learn to – at least once in a while – say "no."
9. Don't do as much housework
Laundry. Dusting. Cleaning. Yard work. Maintenance. It's a virtually endless cycle. And because it's never done, we never feel satisfied.
Let's just admit we'll never have the perfect house or lawn, and spend more time enjoying our surroundings instead of beating ourselves up about all the things we should be getting done. The dishes will be there tomorrow, so let's focus on the experiences we can have with our family today.
10. Don't rush through 2014
Time races by and children grow up so fast. Yet it's easy to let moments slip away, lose our patience and end up acting like drill sergeants with our kids.
Let's slow down and savor the little things. Count to 10, so we don't lose our temper. Sit down on the floor and pay attention. If we let our kids set the pace in 2014, we just might discover more joy in the new year.