5 Parenting Resolutions for 2018
Caitlyn Andrews Valle, LMFT
January is a popular time for resolutions, fresh starts and goal setting. Before you launch into any new personal commitments, it might be helpful to assess previous efforts. If you made resolutions last year for 2017, what were they? Were they difficult to keep? Do you feel that you were successful? Was there anything you learned about the actual process of setting resolutions, whether or not you feel they were successful?
When contemplating resolutions for the coming year, it may be useful to keep a few things in mind. First, your goal doesn’t have to be life changing. Maybe it’s one small thing you think is realistic to commit to. For example, I’m going to download a mindfulness app to my phone, so I can spend 10 minutes a day practicing being more present. The most important thing about making resolutions is being able to follow through, so put them within reach.
Second, be concrete and specific. Instead of saying I want to get into shape, maybe you say I’m going to walk for 20 minutes three times a week. Be specific about your goal so you’re able to check in with yourself about how you’re doing as each week and months progresses.
Finally, write down your goal and visualize your success. Studies show that the more you’re able to visualize your success in specific detail, the more likely you will be to hit your goal. If you resolved to get more exercise, where are you walking? Are there trees and if so, what kind? What smells are in the air? Who else might be walking there? How do you feel when you’re done? Visualize yourself in the moment—the sights, sounds and feelings as you are accomplishing your goal.
What would you like to see be the same or different for you as a parent in the coming year? Try to withhold judgement and experiment with the following exercises, as a way to gather information. Embrace the fact that no one is a perfect parent and at the end of the day, all parents are doing the best they can every day with what they know.
Here are 5 Parenting Resolutions:
1. Put down your phone.
This can be a tough one, but in an era where screens are all around us, moderating your screen time is imperative in modeling balance and making priorities. Experiment with turning off your phone in the evening and breaking out a game instead of watching a movie.
2. Dedicate weekly 1:1 playtime.
You’ll be amazed at how much more communication, connection and happiness will emerge if you spend more dedicated 1:1 time with your child. Maybe it’s an hour at the park, a walk with the dog, or a trip to frozen yogurt. Find a time that works weekly, put it in your calendar, create a routine and stick to it! So many parents report a decline in negative attention-seeking behaviors when they proactively make time to spend with their child. Life is busy, so plan for it!
3. Revisit structure and routines.
Have a look at the structure in your home. Do you have regular family meetings where everyone has a voice? Do you sit down for dinner at least one night a week as a family? Are there enough positive incentives in the home? Does each person have at least one chore that however grumbled about, gives a sense of purpose and making a contribution to the family? Put some thought and creativity into what behaviors you want to encourage in your home and experiment to see how things can change. Remember, if you’re changing a routine, initially it may be difficult, but if you keep at it, you’ll see results!
4. Look beyond the report card.
Think balance. Contemplate how your child’s stress has been this past year and how yours has been. The pressure to perform at a young age is astoundingly high these days but the reality is that your child’s grades represent only a portion of who s/he is. Brainstorm with your child about what extracurricular activities might be fun or interesting. Nurturing other talents and reminding your child that grades are only a part of who they are is an important part of helping them find balance.
5. Nurture yourself.
You can’t take care of anyone else if you don’t take care of yourself. To be the best parent you can be, YOU time is vital. Taking time to recharge and reboot will help you to be a more patient, loving parent. Try scheduling an hour or two each week to have coffee with a friend, take a class in something that interests you, go to the gym, relax with a massage or read a book. If you have a partner, schedule a date night and time to connect. Being connected to your partner will help you be on the same page when it comes to parenting and discipline, and will remind you in subtle ways of why you decided to create a life together.
Happy New Year! May all your resolutions be successful (in one way or another)!