Let’s face it: when it comes to parenting, none of us will achieve a perfect score. Even so, every good parent tries their best (and they should) to grow for the sake of their children. I’d wager to guess that from time to time you mull over a few tweaks you’d like to make to your own parenting strategies. Now that the New Year is upon us and we’re in the mindset of making resolutions for 2019, here is an invitation to include parenting ideas in your planning. Here are ten realistic resolutions to consider.
1. Be more present with your kids. This is easier said than done. Whether you stay at home with your kids or you commute to work, there’s always something on the to-do list. As parents, we live in this tension of wanting to create happy memories for our children by spending quality time with them, but we are time-broke. Again, it’s easy to say that housework can wait, but we feel the pressure when Monday morning comes and no one has clean underwear. Perfectionism will have us constantly re-calibrating our schedules to make it all fit somehow, but it never does. This year, consider adopting some creative solutions to prioritizing quality time with your children: schedule one-on-one dates with each child, create an after-school space for your children to unwind and talk about their day over milk and cookies, or encourage your family to do chores together on a regular basis so that there is time in the evening to unwind over a movie or board game. (Note: training children to do chores is cumbersome at first, but it’s an investment that will pay off down the road.)
2. Cultivate passion. If we pay attention, we will discover that each of our kids possesses a knack for something. If your child loves to draw, give him the tools to exercise his craft, such as his own desk. If she loves to dance, enroll her in a class. Maybe they will lose interest down the road, but one of the greatest gifts you can give them is the freedom to explore. (Note: don’t let them jump ship when the work gets tougher. It’s one thing to lose interest and another to give up! It’s sometimes hard to tell the difference so we need to pay attention.)
3. Teach them life skills. From cooking dinner to preparing taxes, there are a lot of skills our children will need to know someday that they won’t learn from school. The earlier we begin teaching them, the better prepared they will be for adulthood. Consider setting aside some time every week to practice age-appropriate skills with them. As they grow, they will feel empowered by these opportunities. Mopping a floor might be tedious for you, but to a child who has few skills it’s a means of feeling capable of achieving greater things.
4. Have more adventures. Rather than feeling tied down by your kids, invite them along for the ride. Invest in some quality ear protection and take them to a concert or a monster truck rally. Plan a cross-country road trip with plenty of pit stops at playgrounds (ones with potties, preferably!) Don’t keep your parenting years in parentheses. Your next year-end memory book might be the best one yet!
5. Get active together. When it’s nice out, go for family walks, play tennis and go camping. In the wintertime, go sledding, teach them how to skate, or stay warm in the bowling alley. There are so many ways to cultivate a love for exercise in children. With a little creativity and a lot of family time, staying fit can be fun! (Disclaimer: this is where I struggle the most right now, but I’ve seen other families do it successfully so I know it’s possible!)
6. Have a reading goal. Personally, I believe that any child who says she doesn’t enjoy reading simply hasn’t found the right book yet! Set a goal with your children for how many books you will read together in 2019. They will have so much fun picking out books with you and charting your progress that they won’t even realize how much they’re learning in the process.
7. Embrace the hard conversations. Be prepared to talk about heavier subjects such as sex, death and faith. Know where you stand in your opinions of these subjects. You might want to practice explaining yourself in front of the bathroom mirror, or maybe by writing in a journal or filming yourself on your phone. Anticipate the kind of questions your children will ask and don’t be dismissive of them. Most importantly, never give your children the idea that it is wrong to ask questions. Many children have grown up angry, confused and apathetic because they were taught this.
8. Get Organized. Whether it’s budgeting for a family vacation, creating a meal plan for healthier dinners, or getting rid of old and broken toys that are taking up space, now is a great time to get organized. If we’re honest, 2019 isn’t going to be perfect, but that doesn’t mean we can’t start it off on the right foot!
9. Spend more time with your spouse. Before you had kids, it was just you and your spouse. It’s easy to get so swept up in responsibilities that the romance dies. This year, schedule more dates together. Parenting often feels like a battleground and you want to have a unified front! What’s more, the closer you two are, the more secure your kids will feel.
10. Make time for you! I’m not talking about vegging out on the couch and scrolling through Facebook. I’m talking about making time for hobbies that truly fill you up. It’s hard to lead on empty, and sometimes catching a late-night Netflix show doesn’t cut it. Not only does your own well-being demand it, but your kids are watching you and learning about life balance from what you do. Do everyone a favor and remember to live your life this year.
Remember, parents–you’re only human. You’re going to mess up in 2019. My recommendation? Choose one resolution and stick to it. No one expects you to be the perfect parent. If you think someone else has figured out everything there is to know about this parenting thing, you’re not seeing the whole story. Just promise me one thing: when the easier seasons come, and you see another parent struggling, don’t forget where you came from.
From my family to yours, have a Happy New Year! May it be filled with babies for days!