At the beginning of the year, we all hear ourselves and our friends and family commit to daring and bold resolutions for the year—lose 20 pounds, land the dream job, run a marathon. Oftentimes, these are unrealistic: the person who doesn’t like running will likely give up on reaching that marathon before training begins. Importantly, what does this tell our kids? And, now that we’re over a month into the year, how are those resolutions holding up?
Rather than make a short-lived promise to yourself, let’s think about some ways to rethink resolutions that will positively influence ourselves and set an example for our kids…that have a higher chance of “sticking.” Goals for ourselves as parents are a good thing and can be implemented any time of the year, starting today.
Here are just a few ideas to get you started that I’ve been tossing around. Try them on and see if they are a fit for you. And remember, don’t take on too much at once. The key is to choose your goals wisely so you can succeed!
- Be healthy. Rather than looking at the numbers on the scale, focus on life changes that lead to the healthiest lifestyle. Food choices are one thing, and activity level is another. I’ve learned not to bash my body or myself around my kids because I don’t want my girls growing up learning to bash themselves. Rather, I can be a powerful influence setting an example of health through exercise and nutrition—getting outside to play, committing myself to exercise, and keeping my body strong to ensure I can spend more time with my kids.
- Unplug and tune in. I’m constantly checking gadgets. Although technology can be a great thing, being plugged in constantly isn’t. Rather than focusing on the outside world through tiny screens, I resolve to tune in by turning in to my family. There is a time and place for everything, including that precious time with my friends, family, children and importantly, my husband. Here's a recently published article you may want to read: How Technology Keeps You from Being the Parent You Want to Be.
- Challenge yourself. Resolutions are one thing; goals are another. Dare to dream. Think big. Don’t get lost in complacency. Push yourself further than you thought you could go. Break through the resistance. And remember to cut yourself a break. If you’re doing the best you can, reaching toward those goals, then the piles of laundry and soap scum in the bathtubs will get cleaned—maybe not on the schedule you want, but it will happen, and surprisingly, your children may want to help!
- Simplify. Simplify your activities, your schedule, your closets. Are you running ragged taking children to five different after school activities? Rather than spread yourself (and them!) thin, choose one or two your children are most interested in to free up time they need to decompress (or let loose). Also, think about what you can let go of. Everywhere you turn, there are “things” accumulating. Try a “keep (organized), give away, or recycle/throw away day” and see how much you can de-clutter your life.
- Do the Unexpected. Every once in a while, break out of your expectations, your daily routine, or even your regularly scheduled programming and do something unexpected, out of the ordinary, or totally offbeat and surprising. It could be as simple as a note in your child’s lunch box or as big as an unplanned drive somewhere new to explore. Or, as we recently did, switch up where everyone sits at dinner (this was nearly life-altering).
- Find joy and be happy. It goes without saying, but when you are happy and can find joy in even the simplest of things, it’s contagious—those around you will also be happy.
- Practice PEACE. As Parenting Coach Flora reminded us:
- Permission to deal with it later
- Accept yourself
- Care (self-care)
- Eliminate (the extra stressors)
Check out Flora's blog here.
Most of all, take care of you. When you begin to sacrifice yourself, your family, your friends, and ultimately, YOU suffer. When you give yourself the time you need to rejuvenate and recharge —I know that’s hard to think about with kids—you will be a better parent and spouse. As Jennifer Williams of Heartmanity said, "We are responsible for meeting our own needs, and the more consistently we meet our needs, the more energy and love we have to give to the relationship." Words I should repeat to myself daily.
What will you resolve to do differently, for yourself, as a parent, starting today?