Every year I do it and I am sure many of you do to. We make New Year’s Resolutions and don’t follow through with them. We have such high hopes on January 1st for what the next 364 days will bring and then, around Day 30 (at least for me), something changes. We get distracted. We get busy. We forget. We decide that our resolutions were silly and weren’t realistic or attainable. No matter what it is that “changes”, so many times we don’t follow through with those resolutions, and when the next New Year’s Eve rolls around, we kick ourselves for not following through and then end up repeating the entire process all over again. It’s a viscous cycle that I am ready to break – and I am feeling very confident that I can!
As I was browsing online, I came across the article below about 5 New Year’s Resolutions for Parents, and have decided these are going to be MY resolutions for this year. As soon as I read them, I just knew I had to make these priorities for me in 2013. These 5 resolutions are things that I think about lots of times, but for some reason, never had really considered them being New Year’s Resolutions. No matter, I think these are brilliant and I am going to strive to stick with them this year, not only for myself, but for my daughter, husband, business partner, and anyone else that I come in contact with. These are 5 resolutions that I believe will help make me a better person in 2013 and I can’t wait to see the results.
(Interestingly enough, the 5 resolutions below were written by a dad, Caleb Gardner. Enjoy!)
Caleb Gardner is an amateur father and husband who writes at The Exceptional Man and dabbles in photography, design, and music. When listening to the cacophony of modern-day America, Caleb prefers a side of Scotch. He calls Chicago home, and in winter, less-nice things.
With the birth of our second child this year, my wife and I have had to completely rethink our approach to parenting. What we considered important when we first became parents has now fallen by the wayside. As the reality of two children has set in, we’ve had to focus on what really matters – being present, sharing our values, and making sure our kids know how much we love them. These five parenting resolutions certainly aren’t all-encompassing, but they are guiding principles that I hope to apply every day.
1. I won’t expect perfection — from myself, or from my children.
I want to make it clear to my children that it is okay to have bad days. I have high expectations for my kids, but in the end, they are just kids. They are still learning how to be in this world, in every sense. If it takes two steps forward and one step back, I want to make room for that as a parent.
I also want to take pressure off of myself to do everything right. I have bad days, and as long as I’m honest with myself and my children, admit when I’m wrong, and try as much as possible to be aware of what I need in the moment, I don’t have to be a perfect parent — which frees me up to be a good parent.
2. I will make learning a part of everyday life.
A few months ago I started a new job, and with it has come many opportunities to learn new skills and try things I haven’t done before. Learning is an exciting part of life that I find personally fulfilling, and I want it to be the same way for my kids.
I’m already seeing the same sense of wonder in my oldest, who will turn four next year. His imagination is blooming every day; I see it in the school yard with his classmates, and the (pretend) train yard as he’s playing by himself. He’s taking an active approach to learning as he discovers the world, and I want to take an active part of encouraging that learning.
3. I will put away distractions and be with my kids.
It is too easy to come home after a day at work and jump right back on the computer or phone, checking email, reading social media updates, doing one more thing before I focus on being with my family.
In 2013, we’re taking an extreme approach to keeping family time sacred. My wife and I have agreed to check all of our digital devices at the door when we walk in our house, and not pick them up again until our children are asleep. I liken it to the phone-stack game for parents, but it is a way to ensure that our kids never wonder whether or not something else is more important than they are.
4. I will live in the moment.
In 2005, David Foster Wallace gave a commencement speech to Kenyon College. His admonition against unconsciousness, against the default settings of every day life that make it so easy to coast, struck a chord in me.
Next year, I want to focus on what Wallace calls “the really important kind of freedom” — being aware, being disciplined, and having a sustained effort over time to sacrifice for other people, “over and over, in myriad petty little unsexy ways, every day.” To a parent, I don’t know what else could be more important.
5. I will communicate unequivocally how much my family means to me.
There have been too many reminders lately about how fragile life is. If there was ever a time to oversaturate your loved ones with words of encouragement and praise, it has to be now, and every day in 2013 and beyond.
What are your resolutions as parents next year? What did you learn in 2012 that changed how you’re going to approach your kids in 2013?