A New Year is the signal of a fresh start; setting positive goals and aspirations that not only benefit ourselves, but also our children.
As parents young children, we share common hopes and dreams, challenges and joys. As 2016 is drawing to a close, I thought it would be a timely opportunity to reflect upon and share my goals and aspirations as a mother of four children (ages 11, 9, 7 and 5). These thoughts reflect who I am, my values and serve as reminders of how I want to approach each day with my children:
Make Mindful Choices
My hope is to make informed decisions as I work to guide my children through their growing and learning early years. We have to make so many choices and decisions as parents that affect so many aspects of our children’s’ lives. Some are easier, like deciding what winter jacket to purchase or what to make for dinner on Thursday. Some are more complicated, like choosing how we will educate our children, or figuring out the right approach to guide our child through a tough friendship situation. We have no instruction book as parents, but we can do our best to make sound decisions by seeking out information and ideas that can help us validate and support decisions we make that are in the best interest of our individual children and family life.
Make Time for Connection
I want to spend meaningful, undistracted time with my children (and husband) each day. This sounds like it should be easy, but, as you can probably relate, the challenge is to be fully present without preoccupation with something else. I want to work to make a conscious effort to be attentive in my thoughts and actions to those around me, even if in small pockets of time throughout the day. This can be as simple as sharing a meal, playing a game, reading a story, or listening to my child tell about his or her day.
Seeking Balance and Experiencing Joy
We are pulled in so many directions as parents, we, along with our children can be overscheduled and stressed. My hope for this year is to stay grounded by working to make intentional choices, balancing family time and external commitments for myself and for my children. I also want to make time to share in the simple joys of childhood with the ones that I love.
Make Time for Myself
I know this is easier said than done, but it is important. It has taken me several years (and a few mama-meltdowns) to realize that I am not superwoman, and that taking a break every once and awhile can help me to be a better mom. This year, I am going to work harder to give myself permission to schedule an afternoon or a night “off.” Who knows, maybe even, I’ll make it a habit. Even small breaks in the responsibilities of caregiving can help us all to recharge.
Focus on the Positives
I am working to set realistic expectations for myself (and my loved ones). Knowing and accepting the fact that not everything may go as planned can help alleviate stress and anxiety. When kids are involved there are likely to be glitches to any well thought out plans. I am working with intention to reframe my perspective to focus on the positives, rather than the negatives. When things get tough, I will work to reframe my perspective and focus on the good.
Keep Things Simple
To keep peace in my family, I am going to work to keep things as simple as possible. Kim John Payne, author of one of my favorite parenting books, Simplicity Parenting, reminds parents to think back on the moments in their childhood that they value. It was not likely endless amounts of soccer practice, or the trips to Disney World. Instead, “it’s sitting on a rock, watching a river flow. It’s making a connection to nature, a connection to friends, and a connection to oneself.” In our home we are working to create a balance of enrichment grounded with simplicity.
I invite to you work toward these ideals along with me in this new year. As Gretchen Rubin notes in her book, The Happiness Project, “The days are long but the years are short.” I find this so true as a parent. Let’s make the most of these days that we have with our young children and work to make our hopes and dreams as parents a reality.
Wishing you and your family a peaceful start to the New Year and a 2017 full of joy!
Image credits: Megan Devine