NOTE: Sorry for the lack of posts on FertileBrains this past month. I have been taking it slow and enjoying my time at home with our son during his winter school break, simply playing and being in the “now”. Hopefully, I will get back to a better posting schedule by January middle. Till then, please bear with my erratic calendar. Carry on.
Happy New Year!
It is that time of the year again when resolutions, promises, and challenges make a grand entry into our lives until they are sacked (unceremoniously, if I may add), sometimes by mid-January. Still, a new year is a new year and for some unfathomable reason, it fills us up with hope for new beginnings and do-overs. So here’s me pressing “reset” on my parenting fails of the past year. As I set some goals for myself for the new year towards better parenting, I urge fellow parents to join me and give these 10 new year resolutions a try:
1. Get offline more
It goes without saying that Facebook, Twitter and countless other such “connectivity” apps disconnect us from our kids (and other adults too!) in a way we would hate to admit honestly, even to ourselves. This new year, try to consciously reduce your need to be online 24X7 to a limited time-window per day. Remember, your real friends will remain your friends whether you respond to their messages/emails within a fraction of a second or whether your turn around time is 24 hours (or even more)!
2. Read more
Not just the bedtime story books you read to your kids, this new year resolve to read at least one grown-up book for a change. Children pick up the reading habit more from observing your love for the written word than the hundreds of children’s books you buy for them. So yeah, inculcate the reading habit in your kids by example.
3. Yell less
Children, especially the younger lot, have this amazing ability to get on your nerves, despite their cuteness quotient. Add to it their love for challenging boundaries and breaking rules set by adults, it’s very easy to get sucked into a yelling match with them over their everyday transgressions. This new year, resolve not to hit the roof every time they break something, rule wise or object wise. Agreed, it’s not an easy resolution to follow but, at least, give it a try. Your de-stressed body will thank you for this consideration!
4. Communicate better
Yelling less does not mean having zero consequences and allowing your kids a free-hand at anything and everything. It just means that you will need to learn to communicate better with your children about cause and effect. Take the time to explain things, rather than a crisp “you have to or face punishment” approach. Try it and believe me, you will notice a marked difference in their whining and tantrum levels. If nothing else, at least, you will save yourself a guilt trip later! Not just the children, this new year, resolve to communicate better with your partner too. Instead of assuming they will just know intuitively what you need, speak up when you want them to help you with something.
5. Let it be
Be it your kids’ picky eating behavior, their reluctance to complete their chores, their temper tantrums or even the time they take to reach particular milestones in their lives, some things are better left alone for nature to take care of in its due course. So yeah, this new year, resolve to let it be and stop obsessing over doing the absolute best for your kids EVERY SINGLE TIME. Once a while, give yourself permission to just wing it.
And yes, more importantly, stop obsessing over making your children excel in everything. Leave them out of the competition (unless they themselves want to be a part of it!) and be okay with it. Let be and let them be too.
6. Eat better
Eating better doesn’t have to mean home-cooked, portion-controlled, color-coordinated food for every single meal. It just means making the conscious decision of choosing the healthy kind of food a majority of times. Of course, banning junk food forever is never a good idea in my opinion, but yes, treating food as a means for satisfying your hunger cues and not as a means of coping with emotions (happy or sad) and teaching kids this distinction is a good start. As always, lead the kids by example and you will definitely have good little eaters in no time.
7. Sleep better
No one can understand or appreciate the allure of night-time peace and quiet when the kids are off to bed quite like a parent does. And yes, parents, especially the introverted stay-at-home ones like me (who never really get time to think alone, ever!) do have a tendency to go overboard when they get to enjoy nighttime silence to reflect. It’s addictive and habit-forming. So yeah, if you fall in this category and tend to stay up late at the expense of sleep just because it is your only “thinking” time and more so because the quiet is intoxicating, this new year resolve to break this unhealthy addiction and try to go off to bed sooner…even if it means ditching another rerun marathon of GoT, Friends or TBBT!
8. Organize better
Better organization at home doesn’t have to mean having a giant scheduling app on your phone and planning each and every activity down to the minutest detail. It just means organizing in a way that works best for your family in the long run and makes your home seem a tad bit less messy than usual. I am still a rookie at this, so yeah this is somewhere at the top 3 for me. Here are 52 tips for getting better organized in case you are wondering how.
One thing I am learning over the years is the power of delegation. Parents, especially moms, have this intrinsic need to “do it all” in their quest for “having it all” and in the process end up completely burned out. It need not be that way. When all you are doing is running from one chore to another without any pauses in between, it is the best time to remind yourself that super-woman is a fantasy. All real women who seem to “have it all” know how to delegate and lean on their support systems when their TO DO lists spill over.
“Doing it all” doesn’t have to equal “doing it all by yourself”.
So yeah, do make your lists. But then, do learn to delegate some of it to other people in your trusted circle too and yes, have faith that they will do a good job of it (even if it is not exactly the way you envisioned!).
10. Remember the “I” in the “Family”
And last, but not the least, don’t forget to take time out for yourself. Being a parent is fulfilling, sure, but unless you remember to be nice to yourself and indulge in a few things that you love, even if it is only a ten-minute daily ritual, you will end up feeling unimportant and unmotivated. In the long run, forgetting yourself for the family will not make you a better parent, it will just make you a resentful one. So, yeah, stop short-changing yourself and indulge in guilt-free me-time as frequently as you need it.
There you have it, 10 new year resolutions that I am going to keep striving for every new year. And even if I fail, I bet most people would agree, a change in the last four digits of the calendar doesn’t really make any difference in the parenting world. What does matter, however, is your ability to pick yourself up the day after a fail and start all over again and keep trying to be better for as long as you live.
Here’s wishing you all a very happy new year and better parenting days ahead. Good luck!!
PS: Don’t forget to share your parenting resolutions too in the comments section below. Cheers!