Every year I run down the list of all the things I want to change in my life. Unfortunately the list stays practically the same from year to year. Instead of letting this get me down or kicking myself for not following through; this year I realize I am okay with the rhythm of this tradition.
Of course I want to eat healthy, exercise more, organize everything, follow this dream or that, and be a better mom. These goals are the gold standard of my life but I discovered that by resolving to be a better person, failing, re-resolving and failing again, I am still moving forward.
Perfection doesn’t exist: appreciate the imperfect – It sure would be nice if we could wave a magic wand and have an unlimited supply of self-discipline and enthusiasm, but that is not realistic. The truth is we have to push through all the ups and downs on our own. Appreciating our own struggles ultimately makes us better parents. We also get the added benefit of being a great example to our children if we try, try and try again.
Do the cha cha – If you resolved to entirely give up sugar and lost the battle the next day, don’t let the cookies conquer your resolution and lead to all out siege on every sweet morsel in the house. Like this basic dieting advice, it is important to not throw in the towel when the parenting resolution you made is broken. Maybe you remembered that you resolved to not yell at your kids, in the midst of yelling at them. Pick yourself up and start from where you are. “Two steps forward, one step back is not failure: it is the cha-cha,” the popular meme states and I believe it. Refrain from all or nothing thinking and embrace the cha cha.
Plan for failure – If you have ever made a resolution, then you know the possibility of failure is just around the corner. Anyone who has ever made lasting change has to not only pushed through with self-discipline, they have to plan for weak times. I know I should probably not make any parenting decisions when I am overtired. So instead of saying something I will regret, or agreeing to something that is questionable at best, one of my resolutions is to postpone reactions. This is for the good of all I tell my kids.
Think small – Focusing on the smallest details of your life can have a ripple effect on the bigger picture. Instead of making sweeping changes in your parenting style, consider a few simple steps that can be implemented without too much effort. For example, you can decide to sit with your child while they have a snack, without any technology to distract you or make it a point to hug your older teen at least once a day. Go even smaller and just resolve to look your child in the eyes when they talk, or say yes to playing a game or reading another story.
Cut yourself some slack – Resolving to be a better mom does not mean you are not a good mom now. Be thankful for a new year, a new day, and yet another shot at getting this big starring role right.
More by Sylvie Branch:
Overtired Toddler? Strategies to Regain Calm and Induce Sleep
5 Ways to Loosen the Grip Technology Has Over Your Family
Keeping Track of the Family: What System Works for You?