The Top 10 New Year's Resolutions for Parents

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With the end of the year approaching, it’s always a time to reflect on the past year and move forward into the new year—and with that reflection comes the inevitable process of making New Year’s Resolutions!

While you’re making resolutions that focus on eliminating unhealthy habits or achieving health and fitness, you can also look at making resolutions that will enhance one of the most important areas of your life—the relationship with your family!

So, in the spirit of making awesome New Year’s Resolutions that will have the biggest positive impact on your 2016, check out these 10 resolutions every parent should make.

  1. Make Self Care A Priority

This should be at the top of your list every year! Nothing says burn-out more than a parent who’s doing everything for others and nothing for themselves. I challenge you to pick one thing a week that you can do for yourself that has nothing to do with your role as a parent.

  1. End Parent Shaming

Really, we should all make this a resolution—whether we have children or not! And achieving this resolution really starts by understanding that we all make mistakes raising children. There’s not a single parent on earth who hasn’t gotten something wrong in their attempt to keep a tiny human alive. The interesting thing is that ending parent shaming begins with you—when you give yourself space to be human, it opens you up to giving others more empathy as well. Psychotherapist Erika Labuzan-Lopez suggests a great tip on how to make this resolution work for you: “Talk to yourself in a kind and compassionate way, explain that it’s okay to make a mistake, know that it doesn’t make you a failure, and vow to try better next time,” she says.

  1. Focus on Relationship-Building

We can sometimes move so fast during the year that we forget to focus on our relationships—especially with the people who are closest to us. Labuzan-Lopez says that one way to begin focusing more on the relationship with your child is to “Put aside everything else you’ve got going on and focus in on being present and mindful. You’ll get more pleasure out of being with your children, and they will, in turn, want to spend more time with you.”

But, relationship building does not have to stop with your children. Think about building relationships in your community that can support you on a daily basis, supporting your relationship with your partner and even maintaining relationships with your friends. When we are mindful about those we have in our support network, it really helps in times of need.

  1. Take Care Of Your Health

This might seem like a no brainer, but I’m talking more than just watching your weight. I’m talking about being mindful of your whole health profile—physically and mentally. This can look like taking stock of what you eat, scheduling preventative doctor’s appointments, joining a support group for a particular issue you’re facing and/or seeking professional help to get through a tough time. No one is immune to having health problems, and when we ignore them it prevents us from being the best we can for our families. To make this resolution work for you, schedule a wellness visit with your doctor and ask for recommendations on how to be holistically healthy.

  1. Play More

We can get so caught up in our responsibilities as parents that we forget to just have fun and play. Your idea of play can be something you do with your family or alone, but whatever it is, make it fun! Think about things that you’ve always wanted to do—from the mundane to the extravagant—and see how you can factor at least a few of those adventures into your year. You’d be surprised at the amount of energy and rejuvenation you get from just having fun every once in awhile.

  1. Slow Down

This resolution goes along with making self-care a priority because if you don’t slow down you’ll never find the time to take a break. Relationship therapist and consultant Rebecca Wong, LCSW agrees. “Slowing down, even if just for singular moments, is the trick to tuning in and being more present with the people you love most,” she says. And a great way to make this resolution work in our fast-paced society is to take a break from distractions. Wong suggests disconnecting from technology as a great way to slow down, and I’ll add that you should schedule days where you and your family don’t have appointments or anything else to do, and everyone can just relax.

  1. Find Your Thing

One topic that comes up more times than not while working with parents is that they have lost sight of themselves in their role as a caregiver. But this year, I am challenging you to get back to at least one thing that you did before you had your children. And don’t say that you can’t because you have kids now—think outside the box to find one thing that fulfills you and makes you feel like your most authentic self. If you’re a creative type, get some art supplies in the house (you can even include your kids in art projects if you have to). If you used to lead a whole team in your corporate job, start a meetup group for stay-at-home parents who are also entrepreneurs. You can get back to your favorite things, and this year I encourage you to find ways to do that.

  1. Be Happy

This isn’t about being fake, but it’s about making a point to not let anyone or anything steal your happiness. We all tend to let external forces dictate what and how to feel, but you can choose to be happy—even if things are falling apart. To make this resolution work for you, be honest about your emotions, seek support when you need to and use the suggestions in this post to help you find your definition of happy!

  1. Be Mindful of Communication

When we take judgment out of the equation, make it a point to incorporate self-care into our lives and slow down, it gives us more space to think about how we talk to our family—especially our kids. Natasha Daniels, author of How To Parent Your Anxious Toddler, says that how we talk to our children “shapes how they feel about themselves and how they talk to others.” When you think about this, it’s really important that take time to reflect on how we’re talking to our children and to others, especially when we’re not saying a word. To make this resolution work, Daniels suggests apologizing if you’ve made a mistake in your communication—even if it’s a day (or more) later. 

  1. Get Life Support

I’m not talking about emotional support here, as that was covered in the suggestions above. Here, I’m talking about support services that can make your life easier. Think about hiring a housekeeper to clean the house once a quarter or even finding a personal chef who can cook for your family every now and then. These may sound like splurges—and, to be honest, they are—but when it comes to maintaining your sanity and having a little extra time for yourself, they’re well worth the cost. To make this resolution work, make a list of support services in your area that you find online or from friends, and make an effort to hire at least one person to help.

This is a new year and a time for setting goals that can actually help you and your family grow together. Try to focus on the positive aspects of your parenting and use these resolutions as ways to make things even better in 2016.

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