The Top 5 Parenting Resolutions for 2018

By Quinn Kelly, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist.

Here’s a riddle for you: What one thing is broken more than anything else within one week of having it?

ANSWER: A New Year’s Resolution.

Okay, so that may not be the funniest joke, but it probably isn’t far from the truth. Because New Year’s resolutions seem to be just as easy to break as they are to make, which leaves many of us wondering if they are even worth our time.

Well research says that a little less than 50 percent of people DO surprisingly keep their resolutions, which tells me for the right people with the right motivation, they ARE in fact worth it. But the trick is, the reward that comes from making the change has to seem worth the effort or they just won’t stick.

So what resolutions are worth our times as parents?

Well I would argue ones that benefit not only us as parents but ones that also benefit our children. Which is why I asked my Sanctification and Spitup readers on Facebook to tell me what they wanted their parenting resolutions to be. (Thank you, readers!) And here is what I chose for the Top 5 Parenting Resolutions of 2018:

Put the Phone Down and Be Present
It’s so easy to complain about how much our kids are addicted to technology and give them limits on their devices yet never take a moment to consider putting limits on ourselves. Because whether we like to admit it or not, for most of us, our phones are an addiction of sorts. And if we want our kids to have less screen time, we have to do it too. It’s important to ask ourselves, “When my children are old and grown, do I want them to always remember their mom with a phone in her hand? OR Do I want them to remember that I was present?” Time together is never wasted but time together with a phone in hand can be.

How do we make the change?
It’s easy to feel a sense of urgency in responding to texts and emails. But often, this urgency is self-imposed and perpetuates receiving more texts. For example, you text right back. They text you again. Etc. Therefore, setting the phone down and walking away is a great way to set a boundary. Answer emails and texts once the kids are in bed. Some texts are urgent but MOST can wait. 

Say Yes More
It’s SO easy as parents to find ourselves saying no to things out of habit before truly considering if we even need to say no. We often aren’t really considering if what our children are asking for truly is a big deal; instead we are likely trying to keep things simpler for ourselves. For example, “Mom, can I get the chalk out?” And we respond with, “No, I don’t want you making a mess.” But then when we take time to think about it, we realize there really isn’t any reason they can’t play with the chalk or any reason why we can’t take the time to clean up the mess. We just don’t want to, which isn’t always fair. So we have to practice saying yes.

How do we make the change?
First, we have to truly listen to the questions our children are asking us before we dismiss them. Secondly, we can practice saying yes to one thing a day that we are tempted to dismiss. This gives us a chance to slowly but surely break the habit of always saying no but not get overwhelmed with saying yes. 

Be a Better Listener
If we want our children to keep talking to us as they grow, we have to do a good job of taking the time to listen to what they’re saying when they’re young. But at the end of a long and stressful day, it can be harder than it seems. We may be listening to them, but not actually engaging them. In fact, we may be tuning them out with mindless responses like “Yeah.” And “Uh, huh” which discourages a child from wanting to share. So this year, make a resolution to do a better job of letting them know you care.

How do we make the change?
One easy way to stay engaged during a conversation with our kids is to ask questions about their story. If they are telling you about every little thing they played on the playground, take time to ask them why they play the games they do, etc. You stay involved while also letting them know you’re listening with interest. 

Yell Less and Show More Grace
No one plans to yell, but stress, wild children and crunched time can bring out the worst in us all. We want to have patience, but we also want our children to do what we want without hesitation. And those two things don’t always go hand in hand. And while yelling does get their attention, we also find it sets an example of anger we don’t want in the home. And encourages them to yell when they feel frustrated. So a great resolution for 2018 is show more grace over things that may cause us to yell, but that really are not a big deal. Self care like exercise and time away can help increase our patience as well.

How do we make the change?
My favorite technique for stopping yelling is to whisper when you are tempted to yell. It causes children to have to come close to listen to you, which stops their behavior right in its tracks. Additionally, one of the best ways to increase patience is to sleep more and take time for self care like exercise and a date night away. If we take time to fill our tanks, we have more to offer them. 

Stop Comparing Myself And My Child to Others
One of the most self-destructive things we can do is to compare ourselves as parents to other parents or our children to other children. It instantly causes a drop in self-worth when we feel like we or our children aren’t able to keep up with something someone else is doing. And social media doesn’t help this problem. “Oh, wow, John can now speak Spanish and just went to the Junior Olympics in track…but my child is struggling with basic writing and trips every time he tries to run.” If we want to enjoy our strengths as a parent and our child, we have to remember that every child is unique. And much of what we see and hear about the accomplishments of others is filtered. So we have to stop comparing. And accept our child for just who they are!

How do we make the change?
If you find yourself constantly comparing your child to others, make a list of their strengths. And read over it every time you begin to find yourself comparing. If social media tends to leave you feeling inadequate often, take a break from your accounts. 

Cheers to A New Year and New Resolutions,

Quinn

Did I miss something? If so, what is your favorite resolution? What should have been on this list? Leave a comment below!

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Quinn is a wife, blogger and boymom with a degree in marriage and family therapy. 99% of her time is spent keeping her four boys alive and the other 1% is spent writing about their crazy times in her blog called Sanctification and Spitup also found on Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram. If you want to instantly feel better about the hecticness of your life, give her a follow to see it could be much worse. (She only wishes she was kidding.)

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