I think we can all agree on one thing, whether we are Democrat or Republican, young or old, Manchester United fan or Liverpool fan, none of us will be sad to see 2020 go. The promise of a new year free of illness and home schooling may not be a definite reality, but just the possibility is enough to put a glint in the our collective eye.
While going through the events of this septic tank of a year, I realized that my only true desire is for a complete do-over. We had plans to go on a road trip to a bunch of national parks this year (nixed), we had a vacation at Disney World (cancelled) and I, personally, had hopes of getting on a stand-up comedy stage at least 4-5 times per week in front of actual audiences (obliterated). I turned 46 in October and I feel like I missed half of “enjoying” 45! So, with this in mind, I’m calling for a recount. I say as soon as we get a vaccine, we go back to March 13, 2020 and start over. If we all agree, it’ll be easy! Apple can just reset all of our iPhones and that’s really it. We’ll get 2020 back! Yeah!
Ok, fine, that won’t happen. So, as we now march towards the finish line and since we are powerless to do anything about the state of the world, I guess it’s time to start thinking about in what ways we would like to be different in 2021.
New Year’s resolutions are like facemasks, everyone should have at least one this year. But if you’re having trouble deciding or just having trouble remembering what day it even is and therefore having issues gauging when the year is technically supposed to end, don’t worry, I’ve compiled an easy list for you. There will be no impossible tasks like “losing weight” or “vowing to be more productive.” I have set the bar very low purposely so that you can give yourself a higher rate of success!
So, check out these ideas for parental New Year’s resolutions and see if any of them sound like an easy way to catapult your parenting game to the next level, or at the very least, keep you from drinking wine before 4pm.
1. I will play with my children more
Seems easy right? Our kids are great, they’re imaginative and fun, we know this. But sometimes we spend most of our time trying to avoid them, especially now when we’re all so close together all day, every day, forever and ever. I mean, I just told my kid to go find something to do so I could have time to write this when I know I could easily just write it tonight after he goes to bed. I’m a monster.
Take the time. Play with them. Yes, it’s good for their development but it’s also good for yours.
OK, now I feel like a bad parent. I’m going to take my own advice. Be right back!
2. I will not sweat the small stuff
Spilled milk, a perpetually messy room, the 300th “why” coming out of their little mouth at the wrong time. These are all little things that might send you over the edge. But do any of these things matter? They don’t. So, before you lose it, take a deep breath and search your soul and figure out why you are getting mad.
When our cats jump on the mantle and knock some decorations off of it, I get mad at them. But why? It’s not their fault. They don’t understand English so they can’t possibly know why I don’t want them up there. They just want to get up there.
When a kid spills milk, you know it’s because they are being careless. Because that is their nature. Maybe if you put the milk in a cup with a lid, this wouldn’t have happened. Just relax. Don’t freak out about a behavior that is a known part of your child’s upbringing. Figure out a way to keep it from happening in the future and move on.
3. I will sweat the small stuff
OK, forget what I just said. Definitely sweat the small stuff. Or I should say, make a really big deal out of little accomplishments. Whether it’s coloring in the lines, tying a shoe for the first time, or getting a score of 100% on a spelling test made up of 3-letter words, make it a point to celebrate. Sure, these are small victories in the grand scheme of things, of course, but being praised for a job well done is something we all look for on a daily basis. So, do that for them. The joy will leave a lasting impression on their developing minds.
4. Family nutrition will be a top priority
Food is a big point of contention in our house. My son is unbelievably picky and will only eat a very few genres of food: 1. Mac, 2. ‘N’, and 3. Cheese. The kid, without a doubt would be absolutely content with eating nothing else for the rest of his life and makes that fact known at every meal. I tell him over and over that his arteries will grow angry with him but he doesn’t seem to care. He doesn’t see beyond the next spoonful, let alone the next meal.
So, here’s something we have been doing and, if you have this issue at home, you should do it too. We implemented something we call “Try It Tuesdays.” You can make it “What-About-This Wednesdays” or “Maybe-You’ll-Like-This Mondays” but whichever day and alliteration you choose, make sure the kid tries one new thing that day each week. My son actually now eats cashews and drinks orange juice. Baby steps.
5. I will get organized
How many times have we all said this? How many times have any of us actually accomplished it? A show of hands? I thought so. This goes for me as well. But here’s what I will say, if you change your definition of “organized” then you’re halfway there. Does everyone in your family need to know where the garlic press is at any given moment of any particular day? No! Do you know where it is? Boom. Who cares that it’s in the knife drawer? As long as you know where it is, then it’s “organized.” Done. Easy.
Tell your kids the same. Tell them that they can put their toys away however they want to. As long as they are responsible for knowing where their toys are and that they aren’t constantly asking mommy and daddy to help them look every time they can’t remember where their Pikachu action figure is, then we have no problem. You can do this step on January 1.
6. I will put an emphasis on being a good person
Your neighbors on your left go to religious services every week. Your neighbors on your right volunteer at the local homeless shelter every month. Great. You can do those things too if you are inclined. Or, if you’re like me, you barely have time to fully tie your shoes during the day so adding these kinds of things to your calendar seems like a pipe dream. OK, so you don’t have the time.
You know what you can do, easily? Be a good person. Lead by example. Say hi to people. Offer to help your elderly neighbor bring in her groceries. Tell a neighbor that they left their car window open. Whatever you do, just bring your kids along when you do it. You don’t need to commit to an hour of religious services or volunteer work to be a good person. Just be one whenever the opportunity arises. Your kids will notice and they’ll follow suit.
7. I will help my kid with math and I won’t yell once
Common Core. Do these words send a chill down your spine? Man, do I have to bite my tongue a lot when I help my son with math homework. The frustration levels get high and the words “this is completely stupid” fall out of my mouth more often than I’d like to admit. But that helps nothing. No matter what your kid is learning in school, virtually or in person, they are going to need help and so you have a choice, familiarize yourself with, say, the “new math” or continue to butt heads with your kid because you think your way is better. Skim the chapter in their history book they are reading. Re-familiarize yourself with the word chlorophyll. Whatever it takes to make these sessions go more smoothly will increase your family’s collective sanity by 62%.
8. I will remember how lucky I am
Gratitude. That’s a big word. And sometimes, unless an app on my phone is reminding me to contemplate how grateful I am at 2:35pm each day, then I’ll most likely forget. But the ability to have children isn’t a given for anyone. There are many people out there who are distraught over their inability to conceive, who just want to have a family, just to have, in essence, what you have.
And that may be hard to remember when you are at the height of your stress level due to sheer parental exhaustion. So, just make it a point to remind yourself regularly that you are, in fact, lucky and that, even though your kid is currently covered in applesauce as he rolls around in your bed, you have something special.
9. I will not murder my spouse
“We’re all in this together.” Truer words have never been spoken about the current state of affairs in the world. But you know, deep down, the only people you are “in this together” with are your family. And only your family. Now, if you have kids, you know that you would do everything in your power to protect them. Your spouse, however, is a different story.
There are days when you think that “divorce” isn’t a strong enough word for your current mood and that “homicide” has a better ring to it. Now I say “spouse,” but I know not all of us are married so let’s just say your “co-parent,” which can range from anyone you might be dating to your mom. But you have to cool it. Go take a walk, make a pros and cons list of “murder” if you must. The cons will always outweigh the pros even if it doesn’t feel that way in the moment.
10. I will not drink wine before 4pm
This one is pretty self-explanatory. We’ve all had the desire to drink as early as possible during any given day these past 7 months and some of us have succumbed easier than others. But just make it a point to stop this behavior. When you drink wine that early, you just end up wanting to go to bed at 6pm even though you still have hours of parenting left, so you’re really just shooting yourself in the foot. And maybe 4pm is even pushing it. 4:30 is only a half hour later and it’s a perfectly acceptable time to start imbibing so why not set that as your resolution?