So, this morning I’ve spent an hour or so reading many posts from parenting groups and pages, experts and advisors about how to be a better parent in 2018 – New Year’s resolutions for parents so to speak. They listed things like ‘being more present’ ‘less screen time’ ‘less yelling’ ‘more family time’ ‘not saying NO as often’ ‘only modelling positive behaviour’ and the list goes on. And whilst they all sounded great and look like a wonderful way to be a ‘better parent’ I couldn’t help but feel that making those kinds of resolutions or promises to myself is only going to add more and more pressure to this already busy stressed mum. I don’t know about you but I already feel pretty guilty on the days that I yell or let the kids watch far too much TV, imagine how much guiltier I’m going to feel when it happens on January 4th and I haven’t even lasted a week into 2018 without ‘failing’ at my New Year’s resolutions.
So, I got thinking about this whole ‘New Year/New me’ resolution thing and I starting thinking what do I want to change. I’ve done the basics like ‘give up smoking’ and have failed at the ‘lose 30kg by next year’ type resolutions so they were off the list. What I decided is I don’t need to set myself a ‘goal’ or a ‘challenge’ or vow to be a better or different parent to the one I am today all I need to do is continue to be the person and parent I already am. There is so much pressure these days on what a ‘good parent’ looks like and depending on who you talk to or what article you read that outlook can change dramatically. And what other people would like me to be as a parent isn’t actually who I am or who I want to be necessarily.
So, this year instead of trying to change my behaviour, change my parenting style, be someone different or do something I normally wouldn’t I’m going to focus on loving who I currently am and doing things to reduce the expectation, stress or pressure on myself as a person and a parent.
So, I thought I would share with you all the 8 rules I like to live my life by!
1. Do something just for you EVERYDAY – this one takes practices as us parents often are riddled with feelings of guilt and selfishness when we do things for ourselves but the truth is if we don’t look after our own needs how can we look after our families? For me this might mean having a coffee instead of folding the washing or taking an extra 5 mins in the shower just to stand there. It might be taking a walk at the beach with the kids instead of going to the playground because YOU wanted to go to the beach. This is not about being away from or separated from your children it’s about making choices for YOU that make YOU happy. One solid rule in my house is that when I cook the family meal I cook what I like to eat not what they kids might want or my husband might like. I put my energy into the planning, shopping and cooking so at the end of it I’m going to sit down and eat what I want to eat…. No exception!
2. Be wise with your time – There are never enough hours in a day, especially when we have children to care for. Value your time and use it wisely, prioritise your task list and if you don’t achieve it all its ok – you just didn’t have time. Make sure things like the above ‘Do something for yourself EVERYDAY’ is right at the top of your priority list! – we need to put ourselves first. I will prioritise coffee with a friend over housework any day of the week because that time with my friends ‘fills me up’ more that vacuuming has ever.
3. Always have something you are looking forward to– That might be a family holiday, it might be a night out, it could be a catch up with a friend. ALWAYS have something you are looking forward to and before that event happens plan the next. We can fumble through our lives day to day but having something in the future that you know is going to be fun makes groundhog days much more bearable! Plan something NOW!
4. Give yourself an allowance– For my husband and I this was an essential ingredient to a happy marriage. Going down to a single income when you become a parent is scary for the best of us. Even in families where money isn’t tight money is always an ‘issue’ or a focus of some or many conversations. I used to feel guilty spending my ‘husband’s money’ on myself and would feel equally annoyed if he spent what could have been grocery money on a beer with the boys. By giving each other or ourselves an ‘allowance’ means we have guilt free money we can do whatever they hell we like with without guilt and explanation – I buy coffee, he buys beers and no one cares!
5. Surround yourself with only good people– Now what’s a good person to me might not be a good person to you but by ‘good people’ I mean people who fill you up, give you energy, make you feel good. We do not need to be surrounded by people who make us feel down, anxious, sad, drained or worn out. I am very selective about the people in my life and those who I put time, energy and effort into are those that make me feel loved, supported, happy and I enjoy being around. It’s ok to distance yourself from people who are not ‘good’ for you, no matter who they are!
6. Let your needs be known– If you have needs from those around you tell them! If we don’t tell people what we need then we find ourselves constantly feeling disappointed or let down when people don’t meet our needs! I needed a sleep in once a week on a Sunday morning when the kids were younger to recharge and reset my batteries, once I made that need known to hubby he happily made Sunday morning his special time with the kids and let me stay in bed!
7. Exercise– Even if you hate exercise I urge you to exercise. Exercising releases endorphins and endorphins make us feel good! Don’t however do something you don’t like. Do not spend money on a gym membership if you do not enjoy going to a gym! Find something that gets the heart rate up that you love, swim, walk, run, bike ride – whatever it is do it.
8. Ask for support if you need it – NO ONE should be struggling along alone, it is OK to need help and OK to ask for it. When my children were younger a friend of mine and I did a childcare swap, one morning a week for 3 hours she had my kids and another morning I had hers. We were both struggling with life with a young family and found things like grocery’s, appointments, housework etc. hard with the children around. By swapping a day each we both got the time out we needed to take care of some chores, or do nothing, and it didn’t cost either of us anything. Win-win!
I wish you all a wonderful 2018 and I hope that you are all less stressed and happier in the coming year than you were in 2017. Look after yourselves and your own needs because when you do that you will ALWAYS be able to look after the needs of your family.
All the best for the New Year from myself and Annie and our extended Stork Network family.
Take Care & Best Wishes