A new year means parents are often inspired to “start fresh” and implement new healthy habits — or drop some of the bad ones.
But just because there’s a new calendar on the wall doesn’t mean you’re not already doing a great job raising your kids … even if you did forget to pack their water bottle last month and they’re still reminding you about it.
Here are five New Year’s resolutions I certainly don’t plan to keep — or even make:
1. I’m not going to pretend I’ll stop using the iPad as a babysitter
At around $9 a month for our Netflix account, it’s the cheapest childcare I’m ever going to find — and the fact that they can navigate it entirely on their own is priceless. If they argue over choosing a show, I simply take it away, so they’re learning how to negotiate (quietly). It’s, like, a life skill electronic.
Instead, I’m going to try implementing screen-free days where we all hide the devices and go back to the basics — board games, crafts, forts. Mostly, though, fully-present parents who aren’t trampling them to reach iPhones when they hear a text or Facebook notification.
2. I’m not going to vow to serve nothing but healthy meals
I’m not a very good cook and that means I take shortcuts sometimes (a lot of the time). I balk at the price of organic produce most of the time, and I’m a sucker for comfort-y junk foods like fish sticks and Lipton Sidekicks and those creamy mashed potatoes (and brownies!) that come in the old-school TV dinners.
Instead, I’m going to keep slowly building up my repertoire of healthy-but-fairly easy-to-prepare meals and stop putting pressure on myself to choose the yucky-tasting brown rice. Of course I know white rice isn’t nutritious, but it complements my mother-in-law’s meatball recipe so nicely and it tastes like fluffy white clouds.
3. I’m not going to resolve stop eating in restaurants.
When I think about how frequently my husband and I ate out before we had kids, I’m amazed we were able to afford basic shelter at all. These days, it feels like a luxury to hit up the Big Stop on Kids Eat Free night. And yes, we let them order Sprite or 7Up in restaurants — it’s a treat. (Never orange pop, of course, because we’re not insane enough to give them caffeine.)
Instead of restricting our rare nights of eating out, we’re going to embrace them even further. We’re going to plan them in advance and maybe even get a little dressed up! (I felt my husband just cringe and shake his head.) We’re going to take turns choosing the restaurant. We’re going to make it into a full-fledged family date night!
4. I’m not going to enforce that we eat every single meal together at the table as a family.
That’s just not real life — at least not our life, with parents who do shift-work. There are mornings when the kids eat waffles in front of the TV and I’m happy to eat alone at the table scrolling through Pinterest. There are lunchtimes (and dinner-times, occasionally, if I’m being honest) when I need 20 minutes of peace and I’ll hand them the iPad along with their sandwiches (see Resolution No. 1).
Instead, I’m going to stop feeling ashamed on those rare occasions when the neighbours walk by at 5 p.m. and see the TV blaring while I hide in the dining room eating alone with my book. I’m an introvert and if I need that time to prevent myself from having a Mom-tantrum, I’m going to take it.
5. I’m not going to vow to clean less.
I won’t be guilted by that “There will be years for cleaning and cooking, but children grow up when you’re not looking” poem that’s always floating around Facebook. When the house is a wreck, I get cranky — and nobody wants Mean Mom rolling into 2016. I tidy mostly for my own sanity, and I’m not going to let a sappy quote make me feel badly about that.
Instead, I’m going to make extra efforts to do fun activities with the kids this year. They’re at such fun ages where we can really go out and do things without dragging diaper bags and sippy cups and worrying about naps or tantrums. I’m going to embrace the things I need to do for myself — like taking time alone and managing the clutter — but also plan more special things for us all to do together.
Wishing all of my readers a happy, healthy 2016! Let’s DO this thing!