Be empowered to make 2019 the best year yet for your family with our 11 resolutions for parents.
With the dawn of a new year comes a great opportunity to plan and set goals for the next 12 months. While some may be planning to start a new diet or savings account, many parents can benefit from a new outlook. Check out these 11 resolutions every parent should make, for a better year for their whole family.
Nothing sucks the joy out of parenthood quite like deciding that your family isn’t quite up to snuff. Whether it’s the fact that your baby is not yet walking, you haven’t yet hit your pre-pregnancy weight or your child failed to make the honour roll, comparing you and your family to others is a recipe for heartbreak.
After all, you can’t take two unique beings and expect them to perfectly align. Instead of looking for ways in which you or your loved ones may fall behind, celebrate every victory with a hug and well-deserved praise. Your whole family will thrive with this shift in outlook.
Let the bad days go
How many times have you laid in bed after a challenging day as a parent and relived all the moments you wish you could change or take back? Kids have bad days and parents do, too. Instead of dwelling on those moments, focus on what you can do to change it.
If you lose your temper and yell, talk to your kids no matter their age. Let them know that you are sorry for your actions and ask for their forgiveness. This is a great lesson to let your kids know that their parents are human and make mistakes too. It also teaches them that they are worthy of an apology when warranted. Families make mistakes, forgive each other and move on.
Lower the expectations
One of the reasons the job of a parent is so hard is because of the unrealistic expectations. Think back to your own childhood. I’m pretty sure the only time I ever went apple picking, visited a farm or went to the zoo involved school field trips. My parents used their weekends as a means to unwind from their busy work week and spend time with family and friends, not rush around to check off a list of events and outings that had to be done each year.
While it is important to spend family time, it can happen wherever and whenever works for your family. Go on a nature walk close to home, snuggle in a blanket and look at family pictures or spend an hour in the kitchen making dinner together. Not every weekend has to involve a social media-worthy event outside of the home. Your kids and your wallet will thank you.
Make 2019 the year the you under-commit and over-deliver. So many people (especially women) have a hard time saying ‘no’ to commitments that don’t really serve them or their family well. It is far better to choose to commit to less but to do it happily, than to do more but with resentment.
Don’t be afraid to turn down an invitation if it will mean that your day or weekend will be over-scheduled. You will enjoy spending time with that friend or family member much more if it doesn’t come with rushing to and from other events, cranky kids and a resentful partner. Try to keep at least one day on the weekend just for relaxing, no matter what time of year.
This can also be extended to include your kids. Try to allow your child to participate in one after school activity at a time. This allows plenty of downtime for homework and family time, and is much more budget-friendly.
So what will you be doing on your one day to relax? The answer is playing! Start a family tradition where you experiment with different hobbies and activities that you all enjoy. A great option is taking the family to the local recreation center for a swim. It’s a fairly low-cost way to tire the kids out and get in some exercise. Try looking for a time slot that is right before bed and bring along pajamas to change into.
Game night is also a wonderful way for older kids to make some fun family memories. Pop some popcorn and let the kids pick the game. Not only are you spending time together, but kids are learning important lessons in counting, strategy and winning and losing.
If the kids are too young for games you can also indulge in some sensory play. Grab the Play Doh and unleash your inner Picasso… a stress reliever for the whole family.
Let the kids take the lead
When kids have more control over their days, they can be less likely to have temper tantrums. Giving your child the ability to help plan out family activities will let them feel a sense of control and accomplishment. It can also help motivate kids going to an activity they may enjoy less if they are able to choose their next activity.
Younger kids can feel overwhelmed by too many choices, or end up choosing activities that aren’t feasible. Instead let them choose between two or three choices.
Also, remember that kids often need a chance to unwind. Pajama days are a popular option for days when all you want to do is relax and snuggle up with a good movie or two.
Give less, spend more
One of the best lessons you can give your kids is to learn the value of a dollar. A new year marks a new opportunity to save your money and teach your children some valuable lessons.
If you want your little one to learn that treats at the store are for special occasions only, set the expectation before the trip. Remind your child that they will not be getting a treat on the trip to the store and stick to it. You can still reward good behaviour at the store through praise, a sticker or a special activity at home. Just be sure to stay consistent.
Older children can benefit from earning pocket money through chores or good behaviour, to be saved or spent as they wish. If they don’t bring their money to the store, they cannot buy anything. If they don’t have enough money, they need to save longer.
Instead of spending your money on sugary treats or dollar store items, you can save up for experiences for the whole family. With the money saved you could buy camping gear for some nights under the stars or visit a local attraction for some unexpected fun.
Be in the picture
We all love to take pictures of our kids, but are often the ones left holding the camera. Challenge yourself this year to get in the photos more, despite the fact that you may not be wearing the right outfit or have your hair perfectly styled. Remember that these photos will one day be all that your kids have to remember their childhood by. Make sure you document all the fun you have together as a family.
Stop the negative self-talk
Kids love their parents in a way that can only be described as all-encompassing and infinite. If only we parents were able to see ourselves the way our kids saw us. This won’t change simply with the ringing in of a new year, but it can allow for a mental shift. Instead of focusing on what you are currently struggling with as a person and as a parent, look to your strengths.
Negative self-talk is harmful and ineffective. Focusing on your downfalls will not make them disappear and, instead, will just waste your precious energy that could be better focused elsewhere.
As a first step, make sure that you are not verbalizing your insecurities. Remember there are little ears listening to you speak badly about a person they love and idolize.
Once you have gotten out of the habit of voicing negative self-talk out loud, start each day on a positive note. Start a gratitude journal or do some positive affirmations. Set goals and work towards them. Turn your negative thoughts into positive action.
Get more sleep
A rested parent is a happier parent, a more patient parent and a healthier parent. Now that you know the impact that lack of sleep can have on your family, make sleep a priority not only for your kids, but for yourself as well.
You can achieve this by setting reasonable goals for yourself at night. If you have a partner, make sure that you are sharing the load when it comes to the evening meal and getting the kids ready for bed. Have older children? Motivate them to take some personal responsibility for tasks. Older kids are perfectly capable of washing dishes, loading a dishwasher and sweeping the floor. This is helping them to learn the importance of working together as a family.
If you need to keep on top of chores during the week, limit yourself to one thing a night and make sure it serves double duty. Bathing older children can be a great time to clean or organize the bathroom. Gather laundry for the washing machine during the bedtime routine, and fold while relaxing on the couch. Supervise homework while you prepare the evening meal. Make lunches while your kids wash the dishes.
Also, it’s important to consider what is gained by trying to ‘do it all’. By asking for help from your partner and children, you’re able to be a more rested and happier person (and parent).
Working towards a realistic goal can give you lots of personal and professional satisfaction. Yet, setting goals without working towards them can leave you with a feeling of failure. As we embark on 2019, consider what personal and professional goals you want to achieve in the year ahead and then break down the steps you need to take in order to achieve them.
For example, instead of saying ‘I need to lose weight.’ You could say, ‘I want to get healthier’. From there, map out the steps it would take to achieve the goal such as:
- I will start walking the dog each night before bed.
- I will start eating more fruits and vegetables in my diet.
- I will stop drinking pop.
This is a clear goal with the steps outlined to achieve it. (You can read more about SMART goals here.)
If the goal was to get a promotion at work you might want to consider:
- I will offer to lead projects and offer more ideas in meetings.
- I will keep track of my ‘wins’ and achievements to share during evaluations.
- I will let my boss know I am ready for more responsibility at work.
As parents, we all know how fast a year can go by. Taking the time to evaluate the type of parent you want to be can do wonders for your family. A few changes can make a big impact and often result in you doing less work as a parent, instead of more.
No matter what resolutions you choose to keep, we want to wish you all the best in 2019!
Melissa Robertson is a journalist with 15 years of experience as a professional writer. She is also a hot mess mom to three very energetic daughters, and loves to DIY, share design and upcycle projects and creating patterns. She shares it all on her blog, Keeping Up With The Robertsons and, luckily, has a husband who is a total softie and is usually willing to go along with her crazy plans!