Gentle Parenting New Year's Resolutions

The new year is a perfect time for new parenting resolutions. Here are some tips to start 2017 out right, connect with your kids, and stay on the path of gentle parenting.

Parenting is the most amazing, educational, enlightening journey I've ever been on. It's also the most challenging.

Many of us as parents strive to raise our children gently, embracing age-appropriate boundaries, enforced with compassion and understanding. But we often have generational patterning from our own childhoods as well. We have bad habits, we have quick tempers, or we simply lack the tools to be the kind of parents we want to be.

The new year is a perfect time for new parenting resolutions. And not just because everyone sets (and often breaks) resolutions every year, but because we have to start somewhere, and why not get a fresh start in the new year? Reprogramming your parenting takes daily effort. It is not something that comes from nowhere; it takes daily reminders and practice.

Here are some tips to start 2017 out right, connect with your kids, and stay on the path of gentle parenting:

1. Set your intentions every morning and every night. Before you get out of bed every morning, repeat a gentle parenting mantra to yourself. Repeat another one before you go to bed at night. Setting intentions is everything. Change doesn't come by chance; it comes via repetition. Even something as simple as "I will smile at my children when I feel frustrated today," or "I will count to ten before responding today," can make all the difference.

Consider it like exercise: if you want to start a new exercise regimen to better your health, does it help to be vague? Does it help to think of some future time when you will start exercising daily? Is it helpful to have no specific plan? No. You need a plan. You need to start today, and you need to do it daily. In order for gentle parenting to stick, you need to start today, and you need to do it daily. Leave Post-It notes all over your house if you need to. Set your intentions every morning and night, and watch how your day transforms.

2. Get yourself a gentle parenting mantra coloring book. Coloring books for grown-ups are all the rage currently, but they serve a deeper purpose -- art therapy has long been a resource for mental wellness, and adult coloring books are no exception. Coloring books can reduce stress and anxiety, even for those with no artistic flare.

I love the Lovespace Parenting Mandala Coloring Book -- it includes gentle parenting mantras, as well as a meaningful paragraph accompanying each mantra, with an explanation of how and when to use it. The book itself is spiral-bound, allowing it to lay flat no matter where you are, and the illustrations are simple but mesmerizing -- meaning you can get some coloring done easily, without stressing over ornately detailed mandalas. If you are on the path of gentle parenting, this book is for you.

3. Self care, self care, self care. Self care! You can't be at your best if you have no time for yourself. An empty cup cannot fill the cup of others. All that jazz. You need time for yourself, and you need to work on your wellness. Whether it's a luxurious bubble bath, or a daily yoga session, or monthly massages or drinks with the girls -- take time for yourself. Schedule it weekly, even if it's just an evening alone.

4. Invest in yourself. Self care is important, but sometimes you need more than a bubble bath. You need to feel great in order to be your best self, and to be the kind of parent you want to be. If you are struggling and in need of guidance, invest in some wellness coaching or parent coaching. These wellness coaching moms have been where you are, and they can empower you on your path:
  • Crystal Franco offers online intuitive counseling, distance energy work, nutritional support, and birth work.
  • MotherWise is a certified wellness coach who helps guide women and their families on the path of wellness, with online classes specifically made for busy moms.
  • Erin Stephanie offers Self Care Mama options online, which include Intuitive Healing, Energy Work, and Guidance Coaching Sessions.
  • Audrie El-amin supports mothers via nutrition counseling for pre-pregnancy, pregnancy, postpartum, and breastfeeding.
5. Fill your gentle parenting toolbox. You can't fix anything without the right tools. This is especially true if you happen to be breaking the cycle of angry parenting. You need new tools in order to know what to do when challenging parenting situations arise -- and there will always be challenges.

The goal of gentle parenting isn't to magically have all the answers and never have conflict with our children again. All human relationships are prone to conflict. The goal is to respond to those challenges with wisdom and kindness, modeling for our children how we want them to behave. To stay on the gentle parenting path, you need consistent reminders which go beyond the daily Post-It notes. You need brand new tools. Educate yourself by reading and saving gentle parenting resources. I have a "Favorites" folder on my computer where I save all of the most helpful resources, and I read them whenever I feel the need to. It is refreshing, and helps me stay committed to my goals. Here are some of my favorites:
Make these five easy resolutions for the new year, and you will see improvement in no time. Leave a comment below to share your journey to gentle parenting!

Image credit: atl10trader