I’ve never been a big fan of New Year’s resolutions. I mean, if I haven’t organized my closet in the last six years, what’s so special about this year? And lose 10 pounds? Again, if knowing that I have to wear a bathing suit in the summer isn’t inspiration enough, then I seriously doubt that the bulky sweaters and leggings I wear all winter are going to give me the extra push I need to get back into the gym right now.
Don’t get me wrong. New Year’s resolutions are great. But all too often these resolutions are things that we should be doing anyway, right? “Be kinder. Spend less. Stop [name your bad habit here].” Or worse, we get really ambitious: “Read 100 new books. Make a new recipe at least once a week. Meditate. Start a home business. Learn a new language.” Of course, with that last list, it doesn’t take long to remember that we have kids and then we actually laugh (quite loudly) out loud.
The point is, we put a lot of pressure on ourselves at the start of a new year. But for what purpose? On the rare occasions that I have made new year’s resolutions, I just end up feeling bad by the time the next year rolls around and I have nothing but another list of things I failed to complete sitting on the kitchen counter…right next to the grocery list I forgot to bring with me to the store.
I would like to point out that I am all for self-improvement. In fact, it’s something that I strive for every day. And I do love the idea of a new year, a fresh start, a clean slate, etc. So this year, instead of disappointing myself (and anyone who might overhear my lofty goals and get prematurely excited thinking that I might actually accomplish them), I have decided to set goals instead of resolutions. New Year’s resolutions are so absolute and unforgiving. Goals, on the other hand, are things that we can constantly strive for. They are points that we can look towards without the stringency of a calendar timeline and as such, feel more like something that we can reach. (Please note that I’m not saying that I don’t want to achieve past years’ resolutions, but I like Pringles more than I like losing 10 pounds, so we’re just going to put a pin in that one for now.)
With that being said, I guess my only real resolution for 2018 is that this year, I resolve to be more realistic. And I would encourage all of your moms out there to do the same. Set your goals and go for them, but remember, you’re only human…and on the bright side, you probably will read 100 books this year. They might just be written by Dr. Seuss.
1. Remember that I can only do so much
I forget that I have kids way too often. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t forget the kids themselves, they make sure of that. What I forget is that, when you have kids, there’s only so much you can do for the rest of the world. And right now, my job is not to be there for the rest of the world, it’s to be there for my kids. Kids grow up and leave soon enough and you can rest assured, the world and all its problems will still be waiting right there where you left it.
2. Take more time for me
By this, I mainly mean that I would like to start dressing a bit nicer. And by that, I mean not wearing yoga pants for three days in a row. Especially if they’re the same yoga pants. This will also require doing laundry more often. But I am not going to list it, because as we all know, once you’ve named something it becomes real. And I refuse to set anyone up for disappointment on the laundry front.
3. Stop using “my hairdresser told me it’s not good to wash your hair everyday” as an excuse. This is basically a sub-clause of Goal #2.
Yes, there are days that spilling the cat’s entire bowl of water down my front counts as a shower. I will admit that openly. But I do believe that we feel better when we look better. And I know that when I make the effort to start my day with a hot shower and clean hair, I do feel better. To those who know me well, have no fear. This will not go overboard, so don’t get your hopes up about makeup. I just think that I should pay as much attention to my own appearance and sense of self as I do my kid’s. And if you’ve ever had a 10-year old go through the “I don’t need to shower” stage, then you know that it does, in fact, require a lot of attention.
4. Stop comparing myself to everyone else
It’s all too easy to look around and think that everyone, and I mean everyone, is doing a better job than me. A better job as a mother. A better job as a partner. A better job as a multi-tasker. A better job at life. But you know what? They don’t have the same struggles as I do. And I don’t have theirs. They are doing their best. I am doing my best. And that’s enough.
5. Be the kind of daughter to my parents that I want my girls to be to me
I have a number of friends who have lost parents over the last several years. It’s the circle of life and all that, but that doesn’t make it easier. I am lucky enough to have both of my parents. And as my girls get older, I think a lot about what I want our relationships to look like down the road. I want them to call. I want them to visit. But I need to start setting the example. We never stop being parents, but by that same token, we don’t have to stop being our parent’s children either. Sometimes I just need my mom. This year, I will do a better job of showing it.
6. Don’t just express gratitude, but actually feel gratitude
For a long time, whenever anyone in my house said something negative, they were required to say three positive things. This is something I believe in strongly. But recently, I’ve realized that while I try to speak gratitude, I don’t always believe my own words. Feeling gratitude is a very different experience than just speaking it. My goal in the coming year is to learn to feel my gratitude not just on the outside, but to my very core.
7. Be a better friend
In the chaos and confusion of the last several years, I have screened more calls, ignored more voicemails, and turned down more social outings than ever before in my life. If I am completely honest, there are some people who gave up after awhile. And I can’t blame them. But then there are others who have stood by me through it all, calling back without expectation of a return call just to remind me they are still there. We need these people in our lives and they deserve a return of the same love and support…even if we don’t always return the phone calls.
8. Be kinder to myself
I have a tendency to blame myself for everything that goes wrong. Granted, I don’t always admit it out loud, and sometimes I even lash out instead of admitting that I feel responsible for the trials and tribulations of the entire world. But I carry around guilt—way too much of it. It solves nothing and only makes me irritable. The bottom line is that I am not responsible the choices or actions of anyone but myself. As long as I’m giving all I have to raising my children right, even they are not my “fault” as it were. I remind them all the time that they can control nothing but how they choose to act. I just need to start remembering this lesson myself.
9. Enforce the chore chart
Seriously. It’s there for a reason…specifically, to remind the children that this is not a free ride. After all, I am raising capable humans who can empty a dishwasher in three minutes flat if that’s the thing standing between them and something they want.
But I need to be better about making sure that things actually get done. I make way too many “FINE. I’ll just do it myself” decisions and just end up feeling frustrated I have to do everything myself. It’s time for some change around here.
10. Own my decisions
Along the same lines as the chore chart, I have come to the conclusion that 99% of my parenting frustrations are based on things that I have agreed to when I really, really didn’t want to. There are some things that are unavoidable, like doctor’s appointments and sports’ practices. But all the other things—the last-minute sleepovers, the late night runs to the store for items that have to be possessed at that very moment or surely someone will die, the running people around like a taxi service, etc.—these are things I can learn to say no to. But if I do say, yes, then I need to own the decision. I don’t get to be frustrated about a situation I allowed to happen, now do I?
11. Practice better time management
This might just mean getting up a little earlier…or, in reality, probably going to bed a little earlier. But I do know that when my day has a little structure, the house of cards that is my world has a much better chance of making it ‘til nightfall. Unfortunately, there are things that come up. Things that I can’t control. And all too often, I feel like I have to be in three places at once…and I’m late for all of them. But I think that with an effort, a little more sleep, and a planner that I actually remember to fill out, I might just be able to get things under control this year.
I can’t promise that I’ll achieve any of these goals. I can only resolve to try. As long as I keep my expectations of myself, my children, and the unpredictable nature of life in check, I think I should be ok. If not, there’s always next year, right? (#12. Also, stop procrastinating. That should be self-explanatory.)