Another New Year’s Eve has come and gone; and if you’re like many parents, you have looked back over the past year and tried to evaluate what was good and what needs to change. Whether or not you actually identify them as resolutions, it’s time to implement the changes that you want to make to become the parent you always wanted to be.
First, be kind to yourself. Before you had children, it was real easy to make a mental list of what kind of parent you would become. Now, you are in the thick of things. No one prepared you for the attachment you now feel with your child. Likewise, no one could ever prepare a parent for the guilt that goes alongside every parental mistake that you classify as an epic fail. To really change things, you will need to start with the attitude of blaming yourself for everything that goes wrong.
Following are a few resolutions for a good parent:
- Resolve to slow down. Yes, your life is busy. Even stay-at-home moms who are looked at with an envious eye from their working mom counterparts know that the days are far too short to accomplish everything you need to get done. Resolve to consciously make an effort to slow down and spend at least 20 minutes a day doing something side-by-side with your child.
- Resolve to listen before yelling. It’s far too easy to blow your top when you’re already stressed beyond measure, and your child does something that pushes that last emotional button. When it’s all said and done, you wish you could take back the yelling or the sour words you spoke in frustration. Right now, resolve to take a breath before you react. Make sure your child is in a safe place, and then step out of the room for a few minutes to collect your thoughts. Whatever it takes, step back before you blow and consciously consider your reaction. Preferably, respond in understanding and quiet love.
- Resolve to be childlike. No one is quite sure when it happens; but somewhere along the lines, that childlike glee slowly fades from daily life. This adult-like approach to responsibility is great for dealing with other adults or work life, but for your child’s sake, don’t forget what it felt like to be a child. Laugh, explore, and allow yourself the freedom to kick off your shoes and make a tent under the dining room table every once in a while.
- Resolve to share your faith. Spend some time each day sharing your faith with your children. Don't just lay out a long list of dos and don'ts, but share the joy of why you believe what you believe.
- Resolve to give yourself a break. Whether you are a parent to one or 21, raising kids is downright exhausting. Take a break from time to time to refresh. You don’t have to schedule a month-long cruise to fulfill this style of pampering. For some, all that is needed is an occasional step outside to the fresh air. For others, this break will require finding a babysitter or even a nanny to free up your hands and enjoy some downtime alone.