The New Year has finally arrived and it’s a chance to look back and reflect on the year passed. As parents we beat ourselves up about a lot of things. So we thought we would put together a list of 8 things we think a lot of us could do with giving up this New Year! Try our parent resolutions and see if any work for you.
Bye bye to guilt
Who was it that said a parent’s place is in the wrong? It certainly feels like that sometimes. Many of us are constantly worrying about what we do or don’t do or should do but never find time to do.
We feel guilty about working too much or not working.
We feel guilty about not having the perfect birth or not being able to breastfeed.
We feel guilty about not spending enough time with the kids or losing our rag sometimes and shouting at them.
The guilt eats away at us and doesn’t make anything better. So this year make it your parent resolution to ditch the guilt. You’re doing your best and that is being a great parent.
Just say ‘no’
As parents there are so many demands on our time and our energy. We try to do everything and in the process we end up tired and frazzled and too busy to really enjoy anything properly.
We try to pack in as much as we can into our weeks, signing the kids up to every club and class under the sun.
We say ‘yes’ to every volunteer request be it baking at the school fundraiser or helping at sports day.
We set up too many play dates, or agree to help out friends with their kids while they’re busy at work.
We take on too much work because be don’t want to look like we’re slacking.
This year make it a parent resolution to stop trying to do it all. To stop trying to please everyone and to say ‘no’ more often.
Doing all the chores yourself
Sometimes it’s just quicker and easier to do everything yourself. There’s always a mountain of chores and jobs around the house that need doing. It feels like nagging to ask your partner or kids to help out and in the time you wait for them to do it you could actually just do it yourself.
But if you do everything you start to feel like a bit of a mug, and an unappreciated one at that.
It’s not unreasonable to ask your partner to pull their weight a bit more. It helps if you explain that doing it all is taking its toll on you and setting out some tasks that you’d really like them to take on.
Depending on the age of your kids there are many ways they can help out too. Even if it’s little things like always stacking their plates in the dishwasher after a meal, tidying up toys or mess each evening or helping you fold the laundry.
You’re a family and you’re all in this together.
Comparing yourself and your child to others
Comparison is the thief of joy. It never makes you feel any better.
It’s human nature to look at the lives of other parents and to look at the behaviour and achievements of other children. Or to flick through the perfect Instagram photos and find ourselves and our children coming up short in comparison.
But it’s often misguided and never makes you feel good. Again it all comes down to recognising that you’re doing the best you can do and that’s doing great. Your child is loved and happy which is more important than any of the other polished images and adventurous exploits advertised on social media.
So this year make it your vow to stop comparing and start being thankful for all you are and all you have in your own little family.
Trying to be perfect
This one goes hand in hand with parent resolution number 4. There’s no such thing as a perfect parent.
We’re all doing our best. We’ll all get it wrong from time to time. That’s life.
So stop trying to be perfect. Embrace your imperfections. Learn to accept them or even laugh at them. Look at each time things go wrong as an opportunity to learn instead of a complete disaster.
Add some phone-free time
There’s no denying we live in a time when screens are part and parcel of everyday life. But too much screen time creates real distance between us all. It means we talk less, focus on the present less and it can make us miserable.
We’re all guilty of being glued to our phones and reacting instantly when they buzz and tell us we have a new notification.
And we all know how much our kids can get drawn into their screens so much so that they are not present in real life.
Make it a vow that you will all put your phones and screens down more this year. You can start with little things by insisting on no screens at mealtimes or no screens after 8pm. You can build up to all leaving your phones at home on family days out. If you’re very brave you can try a week of digital detox and see what effect it has.
Worrying never helps anything. It makes you miserable. It makes your child more nervous and fearful. It eats away at your sleep and your happiness.
It’s easier said than done to stop worrying but make it your mission to try. One of the best strategies to stop worrying so much is to accept your worry and feel it but then move on. Visualise it as a dark cloud that then drifts away as you let it go. It can help to write your worry down or say it out loud.
Distraction helps too. If you start finding yourself drawn into a cycle of worrying switch things up and go for a run or pick up a craft or do a puzzle. Take your mind off it.
Otherwise you can follow the diagram shown here to help keep some problems in perspective:
Do you have a problem? Yes, Can you do something about it? Yes – Then why worry?
Do you have a problem? – Yes. Can you do something about it? No. Then why worry?
Self sacrifice calls for self care
When you’re raising kids it’s all too easy to put your own needs and wants at the back of the queue. You forget to take any time out to refresh and recharge.
A happy parent makes a happy child. If you neglect yourself then it’s all too easy to burn out and feel fed up and frazzled.
Make it your mission this year to make time for you. We’re not talking about spending an entire week at a spa or leaving the kids to go on a yoga retreat in Thailand (although, if you get the chance, go – the kids will survive). We’re talking more about carving out the time to look after yourself and practice a little self care. Wallow in the bath with a bath bomb, book a babysitter and go on that mum’s night out, put the kids to bed early and curl up with a book in front of the fire. Do more of what makes you happy and makes you feel better and your kids will feel the benefit too.
A lot of these parenting resolutions rely more on a change in your thinking rather than will power to break a habit. If you give up on all or some of these things then you will be well on your way to a healthier and happier you. And hopefully a more connected and relaxed family life too.
Happy new year!