Episode 213: December 30, 2012
by Cheryl Butler
Ah, a brand New Year is upon us once again! This is such a pivotal moment in time for so many of us because it offers us a clean slate. Goal-oriented individuals love this time of year because it’s a great opportunity to set personal resolutions that will be life-changing. It’s also just as refreshing for parents, because we want nothing more than to improve our parenting skills and make good on the major blunders that took place the year before.
In light of the fresh start that comes with a new year, here are 10 parenting resolutions that offer up a way to lighten up and make this your best parenting year ever.
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Resolution #1: Be More Selfish
In one of my first episodes as Mighty Mommy, I talked about the analogy of parents placing the oxygen mask on themselves first before their children in case of a drop in pressure on an airplane. I used to think this was ridiculous—until I had kids! Whether you’ve learned the importance of taking good care of yourself or are still struggling, the New Year is the perfect time to realize the extreme importance of taking time, each day, for yourself! You’re not selfish in doing this—you’re smart. Parents who find time for themselves on a regular basis, whether it’s taking walks, meditating, taking karate, art lessons, or belonging to a book club will be far better equipped to be healthier parents because they know the importance of keeping their batteries charged. Check out my episode on selfish parenting for more tips.
Resolution #2: Mean What You Say
Ever wonder why your kids don’t take you seriously? One big reason could be because you don’t follow through with threats or promises that you tout in the heat of a parenting moment. If you tell your son he will not be allowed to play in his soccer game this weekend because he hasn’t cleaned his room in 2 weeks, don’t expect him to get too worried that his 4-foot laundry pile still hasn’t been put away. Chances are you’ve dealt these threats many times before only to cave and not follow through with consequences. In 2013, make a vow to change that. Mean what you say and assert your role as parent. You will be doing you and your kids a very valuable service.
Resolution #3: Catch Your Kids Doing Good
Sadly, many parents are expert at using negative words on a regular basis such as “Don’t you dare do_____________” or “No, you cannot have ___________!” Make 2013 the year you focus on the positive actions your kids do, not the negative ones. When you see your daughter playing quietly with her sibling, let her know out loud that you find her actions helpful and wonderful. If you catch your son using his magic words when talking to a neighbor, point out how proud you are that he knows how to talk respectfully to other adults without being asked. Positive reinforcement is much stronger than negative criticism. Check out more ways to use positive reinforcement in my episode on 8 Strategies for Dealing with a Defiant Child.
Resolution #4: Get Into the Habit of Planning
Are you ready to let go of the harried school mornings when you race against the clock to make lunches, get outfits and backpacks ready, and make sure homework was completed? How about making 2013 your family’s year to plan and eliminate last-minute stress? By committing to simple things like getting ready the night before for school or even getting up an hour earlier each morning to get the day off to a less chaotic start, you can add a lot more positive energy to your entire New Year. My episode on How Routines Will Simplify Your Life is the perfect place to get started.
Resolution #5: Save Time and Energy for Your Partner
Between caring for the kids, keeping up the household, and working there isn’t much time and energy left over for anything else. But wait—what about your spouse? Shouldn’t he or she be the recipient of some love and attention as well? Don’t let 2013 be a status quo year. Instead, resolve to make a regular date night with your partner, send him or her love letters to their workplace, make their favorite dinner regularly, or plan an outing for just the two of you a half-dozen times in the New Year. Get creative and show them how special they are! Keeping your relationship strong is key to a harmonious home life.
Resolution #6: Practice Gratitude
Often it takes a tragedy to make us realize how wonderful our life truly is. After the unthinkable loss of the 26 precious lives at the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newton, Connecticut on December 14th, we all received a serious dose of perspective. Gratitude is not an option, it’s a choice. When we choose to be thankful for our health, our housebroken puppy, our spouse’s good job, our noisy children, or our wardrobe of size 14 jeans, we are choosing a life of sincere appreciation. Get into the daily habit of practicing gratitude and share this way of life with your kids—you will be laying the foundation for a meaningful life for your entire family.
Resolution #7: Make Your Home Clutter-Free
If you want to spend your time doing one thing that can have a huge impact on yourself and your family in the New Year, make it the promise to de-clutter and organize your entire home (cars and garages included), so that you can live a peaceful and purposeful life. I highly recommend Gretchen Rubin’s two books, The Happiness Projectand Happier at Home as starting points to freshening up both your home and your outlook. Also, check out the Domestic CEO’s episodes on de-cluttering for more easy tips on how rid your home of paper piles.
Resolution #8: Create Family Surprises
Is your family’s way of life becoming predictable and boring? Well, it doesn’t have to be—especially if you initiate the element of surprise into the mix. Think about the long, cold, stagnant month of March—wouldn’t it be nice to shake things up during a month that is so blah? Several years ago I created a “Surprise of the Month” for my family. On no particular day of the month, I did things like served hot fudge sundaes for breakfast, or picked the kids up at school when they weren’t expecting it and took them to a late afternoon movie and then out for Chinese food. The options are endless—the key is not letting them know you’re planning something. Who knows, they just might end up surprising you as well!
Resolution #9: Introduce New Foods to Your Menu
Getting tired of serving the same old menu such as mac and cheese, spaghetti and meatballs, or fried chicken? How about shaking the New Year up with some new recipes? Visit recipe web sites or sift through your favorite cookbooks and map out at least a dozen new menu items to add to your repertoire. How about Salsa Verde Pork or Crock-Pot Chicken With Black Beans? Even if your kids aren’t crazy about one of your choices, at least you’re giving them some new options and there’s sure to be a new recipe like Drunken Chicken that they will go crazy for!
Resolution #10: Learn Something New
Every day presents the opportunity to learn something new—if we choose to accept it. Try a new hobby as a family, such as fishing or roller skating. Maybe you’ve all wanted to learn a new language? It might be something as simple as planting a veggie garden. No matter what, devote a portion of this wonderful New Year to stepping out of your comfort zone and learning something new, preferably together as a family!
What parenting resolutions do you have for 2013? Let me know in Comments or post your ideas them on the Mighty Mommy Facebook page. You can also connect with me on Twitter @MightyMommy or e-mail me at email@example.com.
Check back next week for more parenting tips. Don’t forget to check out my family-friendly boards at Pinterest.com/MightyMommyQDT.
The New Year is a time for fresh starts. No matter what parenting challenges you’ve had in the past, I hope 2013 will be an exciting, healthy and fun-filled New Year for you and your family!