Who doesn’t want the upcoming year to be better than the last? People often roll their eyes at the mention of New Year’s resolutions, but I’ve actually had quite a bit of success in keeping mine. I’ve gotten out of debt and lost X amount of weight and devoted more time to enhancing certain skills. As a mother to two kids aged two and under, I wanted to take those can-do vibes and overcome some of the struggles that I (and probably a lot of other moms) face on a daily basis.
These are the top pledges I’m making this year to better our family balance:
Tackle Milestones Head-On
Parents can sometimes be the worst procrastinators, especially when you know implementing certain changes will be a headache before you even start. Think potty training or sleep training. Heck, the word training in anything is rarely fun! Whatever big changes you know your child will be experiencing this year, don’t let time get away from you. Make a plan, talk about it with your partner, and start tackling those milestones once you feel your child is ready. It might suck in the meantime, but you’ll be happy this phase in your parenting journey is over and mastered.
Be More Emotionally Present
Working parents know that it can be difficult to go from 9-to-5 mode to play time. Add to that, we live in a world of constant multi-tasking. On most days, I’m cooking dinner while checking my email while watching my son color on (hopefully) the floor. Sometimes I’m so busy planning for the day or week ahead that I forget to enjoy the present moment I’m in. Of course I spend time with my children, but there always seems to be a million other things on my mind. In 2017, I want to carve out intentional play time with my children each day. Even if it’s less than half an hour, devoting uninterrupted minutes to each child makes us all feel a little warmer and fuzzier on the inside.
Limit Media Time
It’s no secret that technology is an ever increasing force in the lives of our children. Working with much older teens has shown me how infuriatingly dependent on TV/phones/social media, etc. kids are becoming. You might be the type of parent that disallows any form of technology in your child’s life. Toots to you. Still, many parents are guilty of using said devices as a tool in their parenting repertoire (hey, it can’t be just coincidence that an episode of Mickey Mouse Clubhouse lasts the exact amount of time I need to peacefully get ready). While some media can be okay, even educational, it is important to set limits. That might mean no phones at dinner or decreasing the amount of TV your kids receive each day. This year, see if you can replace that time with more stimulating and bonding activities.
Get Serious About Health
Ever feel like you could step up your nutrition game? Maybe you want to start making healthier meals for you and your toddler to enjoy. Or, maybe you just want to make changes to their dietary routine altogether. The best thing a parent can do is lead by example, whether this means urging your child to participate in physical activity each day or just eat more broccoli.
Start Family Traditions
Although my children are pretty young, I think it is important to start establishing traditions. Parents are so busy scheduling everything else, why not factor in a little bit of fun? A few months back we started incorporating family brunch each Saturday morning. We sleep in a little later, wake up, and eat a big brunch together as a family (even though my daughter just sits in her highchair and watches). Each week I come up with a different breakfast recipe that the three family members with teeth can enjoy. It’s a fun and simple way for our family to connect. Don’t stop at the small-scale, either. Family vacation, anyone? Start thinking about what experiences you want your children to have in 2017 and work toward making them happen.
Take Time for Your Partner and Self
Parenthood can be a busy and funny ride, but you can’t forget about the people taking turns at the steering wheel. Almost every parenting related disagreement I’ve had with my partner can be summed up in one word: miscommunication. You get so busy dealing with life that you forget to touch base with the person helping you hold it all together. Dedicate time to your partner, even if it’s just time to hear them vent. Same thing goes with taking care of yourself. Don’t forget about the things that were a part of your life before baby food and diapers took over. As the saying goes, all work and no play makes Jack Nicholson an aspiring axe murder, and no one wants to be that Jack Nicholson.