The end of 2021 had a very different vibe for me compared to previous years. We planned a special trip to London for this Christmas and as always, there were last-minute complications and unforeseen events. By the time we made it to Heathrow and back, Troy and I were in unprecedented levels of parental burnout (which will be shared in a later post).
So that state of mental and physical exhaustion is the context going into this year and this resolution post. But it does have a silver lining, don’t worry.
Adults tend to take New Year’s Resolutions with full gusto or none at all. Year-to-year, unless big things are happening and changing our routine, it’s very easy to keep everything as is. However, I’ve found that parents of young kids are never in steady state. As much as we want to create solid routines and structure, our kids’ growth and development make that impossible. So a new resolution or a new change in mindset does fit, at least when it comes to our roles as parents, allowing us to look big-picture at the things coming our way.
The girls will turn four this summer, so right off the bat we’re talking PreK, summer day camps, and leaving toddler-hood. For Troy and myself, we want to support them but also challenge them with new experiences and help them build their own autonomy. In the meantime, we don’t want to go to the dark side every time resistance rolls around.
- Frame it for your family – Last summer, I read The Family Firm by Dr. Emily Oster (Childish Reads review coming this month!). The main theme of the book is that when toddlers/preschoolers reach a certain age, there are no concrete answers on the best way to raise them. What works for one family is probably not going to work for yours for a multitude of factors. The best way to navigate is to frame everything with “what works best for your family”. If a certain activity/plan/school doesn’t work for you or your family’s schedule/budget/environment, then nix it no matter how trendy or mainstream it is. It’s not always easy, but it’s a clear way to help prioritize what me and my family need to operate.
- When you rest, you rust. – This is absolutely NOT a resolution to cut out much-needed rest. It took me two days of quiet, away from my kids, to even remotely begin to recover from London. I first read this phrase a few years ago from a magazine article with Oscar de la Renta on ten things every woman must have. I am an admitted productivity junkie and the best way for me to get out of a funk is to achieve something, even if it’s just one thing off my to-do list. In addition, every 2022 horoscope has told me that I need to find something new to develop a beginner’s mindset. So instead of resting on my laurels, I have a project lined up for my own personal development to keep me on my toes. But don’t get it twisted, I still sleep when I’m tired.
- Word of the Year: Actualize – I don’t usually share my word of the year, because it’s always something hyper-productive and daunting. Past words have been “Streamlined” and “Nonstop”. For this year, I went back to Maslow and thought about the concept of self-actualization. In terms of parenting, there’s a growing movement for us to “unlearn” and “re-parent” ourselves, taking time to see how our childhood informs how we parent today. I want to make a conscientious effort to look at how I parent, and how I can actualize/build/create the right environment for my family, apart from any judgement, parent-shaming, or other approval. This includes knowing my triggers, boundaries, and limitations, as well as working better with my partner, better regulating my emotional life, and being a better model for my kids.
- Mileage – It’s taken me years to admit this, but I’m a wreck when I’m not running. I’m not fast. I hate running unless I have music. I used to give myself challenges and book races when I was feeling overweight. But in the month since I stopped running after Thanksgiving, I’ve been irritable. I’ve exploded on my kids, had the worst sleep, and dropped so many of what I consider my “good” habits. I’m definitely not telling you that you need to run, but find something to get you moving and feeling happier.
Like I said, this holiday has definitely knocked me on my ass. But, I’m at a point where I can be very clear with my goals and be happily selective about my time moving forward. Starting out this month on the quiet side, for now.
Thank you again to all of our readers, and we’re looking forward to great year filled with Child(ish) Advice.