As Jen Hatmaker said in a recent blog, “It’s that lovely time of year when short-lived best intentions quickly give way to self loathing…happy new year, y’all!” Yep. It seems as though people fall into one of two categories – those who embrace New Year’s Resolutions and those who loathe them because they’ve never been successful at keeping one! But to be a better mom in 2015 we think you only have to keep a few small resolutions.
It’s 2015 – a new year – a new chance to be a better everything. New Year’s Resolutions and goals have a way of ending in failure, don’t they? But, let’s face it – the reason we make resolutions is because we want to improve. And there isn’t anything wrong with striving to improve– especially in regards to our parenting.
Using the start of a new year as a time to begin healthier habits and end bad ones is a wonderful thing to do, as long as you’re setting the right goals. While striving to listen to your children more is a great goal for the New Year, committing to an intricate Pinterest craft for all 365 days of 2015 might be setting yourself up for some disappointment.
Let’s pause for a moment and think about it what it is we SmartMom’s should and shouldn’t be aiming for in 2015.
What to Strive For
Say “I Love You” More
Maybe you’re not the touchy feely type. Maybe your parents didn’t say it to you. But, let me tell you, kids need to hear it. Any type of positive praise and affirmation will instill in your children a sense of security and confidence.
Put Your Phone Down
It’s so hard, especially now, in 2015, with our iPhone 6’s fighting for our attention. You may be doing wonderful things like looking up activities for your kiddos on Pinterest. Or maybe you’re even asking a parenting question on the SmartMom app. But, your kid doesn’t care about that. Your kid just wants you to build the dadgum block tower with her for the fiftieth time.
By all means, keep being active on the SmartMom app. Keep finding creative parenting tips and healthy toddler muffin recipes on Pinterest, but don’t do it when you’re having quality time with your child.
This year, try to live in the moment when you’re playing or nursing or rolling a ball back and forth. Study that little face that will so quickly become a big face you don’t get the chance to stare at very often.
Our kids will be the first generation of people who literally can’t remember a time before all this technology. iPad games are great and I love me a good Baby Einstein’s DVD, but this year, try to limit the screen time and add in more book time. Take your kids to the library. Let them pick out the books they like. Then, lift them onto your knee and read to them in your best voices and accents.
Be More Flexible with Your Routine
There aren’t many things that are more delightful than surprising a child. Even if you aren’t the type of person who is married to a routine, life as a parent naturally becomes monotonous. Nap times, meal times, play time, bed time. And repeat. It all happens over and over, like clockwork.
This year, aim to surprise your kids more often. Use your alone time to chat with other SmartMoms and comb through that Pinterest board for fun, outside-the-box ideas. Instead of practicing writing letters, cover the kitchen table in shaving cream and let your kid practice that way. Instead of giving your child the same crust-less peanut butter sandwich you gave her yesterday, take her to the park and have a picnic. Let her feed her disgusting and inedible crust to the birds.
Children thrive in their routines, but routinely breaking them out of the rut for new experiences will cause an explosion of wonderment in those tiny brains.
What to STOP Striving For
Having Toys Picked Up
I’m not saying that 2015 should be the year you let your house go, unleash the rats, and give up on a peaceful atmosphere. I’m saying that instead of picking up the 100-pack of markers that your son dumped on the floor before he moved on to playing with racecars, plop down and play racecars with him. Chances are, he’ll be back to the markers 0.5 seconds later anyway.
It’s great to keep a spotless house (somebody please teach me how?), and wonderful to teach your children to put back what they take out, but if you found that in 2014, you spent more time picking up after your child in a rushed frenzy than actually spending time enjoying your child, you’re missing out. If you can let go of the self-imposed pressure for perfection and allow yourself to enjoy these short years when there are miniature ponies stashed in your boots, you and your family will be much happier this year.
Bottle Feeding, Sleep Training, Potty Training, etc.
Maybe this is the year you need to get your kid potty trained. Maybe you want to breastfeed for 6 more months so you can rest knowing your baby got a year of breast milk. Whatever it is, great! In fact, you can find a lot of tips right here at SmartMom for whatever milestone it is you’re trying to help your child get to, but don’t beat yourself up. Instead, decide right now that this year, you will do your best and even if you don’t exactly make it through a full year of nursing – even if your kid is still waking up once a night – even if you feel like Pull-ups are going to be part of your child’s life until college– you will not sweat it. You love your child. Whether you breastfeed or bottle feed them, they are getting fed. Whether they sleep through the night or not, they are getting rest. Whether or not they have potty accidents, they will learn to use the potty.
Referencing Jen Hatmaker’s blog post once again, being “more awesome” in 2015 won’t bring you more happiness. Having your life look more “together” is not going to make you a better mom.
Here’s what will make you a better mom – letting the little things go and focusing on those precious, transcendent moments that go by so fast. Listen to your child. Kiss your child. Play with your child. Laugh with your child. Doing those things will make you a better mom in 2015.