My Parenting Resolutions for 2019

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Last year brought a lot of change to our house, not the least of which was the arrival of our third son in July. I spent the rest of the summer and fall learning to be a mother of three and I gave myself a long grace period to figure it all out. In the process, I let some of my loftier parenting goals slide. I’m okay with that; our family needed time to adjust. But as the new year approaches, I realize that a few things that don’t align with our family’s values have crept in to our lives and solidified themselves as habits.

I’ve always been a fan of New Years’ resolutions. I like the process of starting fresh and working to incorporate new practices into my life; I feel good when I’m trying to improve myself. Lately, I’ve had this feeling that I’ve allowed this change in our family to become an excuse for a bit of lackadaisical parenting. Instead of being intentional about creating our habits, I’m letting the schedule and my stress dictate them. So it’s the perfect opportunity to take stock and make some changes. 

I’ve boiled my resolutions down to just a few things that have really been on my mind, because I know when you aim to change too much, you usually fall short on all counts. I also know, as a student of personal development and habit creation, willpower doesn’t really cut it when it comes to making changes. You have to create rules that take choice out of the equation. So here are the rules I’m starting off following in 2019.

1. Turn off the TV.
I have absolutely no interest in quitting cable, but I’ve seen how television has become a crutch for me as a parent lately. I turn it on when we wake up and then it basically plays on a constant loop the rest of the day. I’m pretty strict about my boys’ tablets and video games and I’m mindful of the programs my kids watch, so I’ve justified to myself that television isn’t something I need to worry about; it’s basically the least of all the technological evils. But I’ve noticed something really awesome that happens when I turn it off. My kids just play. They dig in to their mountain of toys; they create worlds and games and characters; they go outside or to the basement and discover new things. It’s not New Year’s yet, but I’ve been experimenting with leaving the tv off at breakfast, and I love what I’m seeing. My boys talk to each other and to me. Surprisingly, I’m not getting a lot of pushback. They may ask for it later in the day, and I’ll let them watch something, but its no longer background noise to our day.

2. Take better care of myself.
Kids have a way of zapping your energy, especially toddlers and babies who need so much of your attention. I’ve noticed I’m not coping in the healthiest of ways. Since my third was born, staying up late after the kids go to bed for a little “me time,” having a glass of wine, binge eating and zero physical exercise has left me feeling less than my best. I’m lacking energy, so I’m committing to being healthier; that way, I can set a good example and be the mom my husband and spirited boys need.

3. Eating dinner together as a family.
I’ve accepted that multi-tasking is part of my life with three kids. I’m always looking for opportunities to do the dishes, fold the laundry or clean up the never-ending mess in our house. But I’ve realized that lately, I’m letting that to-do list cloud my time with my kids. Every year it seems, they have more to share and more questions to ask, and dinner is the perfect opportunity for us to connect. So, I’m committing to making this a priority in the new year; regardless of how busy my husband and I are, dinner together as a family should be uninterrupted time for us to just be present with them without distraction.

I share these rules not to be preachy or pejorative; when it comes to families and parenting, everyone I know is doing their best and figuring their lives out, and we don’t all necessarily have the same priorities or circumstances. These are things that have been nagging at me lately, and I will feel better if I start addressing them. We’ll see how it goes. I’m completely into self-forgiveness when it comes to parenting. I know I can’t be perfect, and I firmly believe that wanting to be a good parent is what matters. If I fall short, and there are days when the kids watch too many hours of tv or I use dinnertime to get a much-needed task done, that’s okay too. One thing I’m not looking to include in my new year is more judgement and guilt.