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Four New Year's Resolutions for Parents

Updated: Dec 17, 2021

Originally published on December 31, 2020, and updated on December 17, 2021.

About 60% of us will make New Year's Resolutions this year, but only 8% will be kept.

Here are a few resolutions to get started on any day of the year:

1. Get comfortable saying 'no'

...when someone drops by unexpectedly when baby is 4 weeks old, and tries to invite themselves in.

...when your family is invited to a social event, but it's past the kids' bedtimes.

...when Grandma tries to feed the kids more sugar than you'd like.

This pandemic has made it easier to say no to some things ("oh sorry, we're social distancing right now!"), but it's also made it much trickier in other cases (it's not that hard to jump on a Zoom happy hour if you don't even need pants, right?).

The thing is, as parents, our energy is already stretched thin. We have to prioritize differently than we did pre-kids, or we'll burn out.

Let's get comfortable saying 'no'. And just leaving it at that - no need for excuses!

Practice with something little, and build your way up from there. Your whole family will thank you for the boundaries you put in place.


2. Stop questioning your parenting choices

Breast vs. bottle, co-sleeping vs. crib, babywearing vs. stroller... and let's not even get started on the topic of vaccines! As parents, we have a million decisions to make before breakfast every day. And everyone seems to have an opinion on what's best.

Here's the thing: we're going to run into trouble as soon as we start thinking about what we "should" do, instead of focusing on what's working for our family. If it's working, no reason to stop!

Note: if you're like me, and appreciate knowing the numbers, I recommend checking out Emily Oster's books and newsletter for more data on the evidence behind different parenting choices. Spoiler alert: if you're raising your child with love and support, these types of parenting choices have almost zero effect on their long-term wellbeing.


3. Ditch the guilt

Since the day I got a positive pregnancy test, I have felt immense pressure not to screw up my child.

Cup of coffee in the morning → is caffeine ok for the baby??

Falling asleep breastfeeding → am I putting baby at higher risk for SIDS??

Going back to work 10 weeks postpartum → will baby feel abandoned??

Settling into a routine at work and LOVING time away from baby → am I a terrible mom??

A lot of us seem to think that if we feel guilty, it means we care. But guilt doesn't change behavior - it's actually just rewarding the part of the brain that seeks gratification. Not useful.

Culturally, we have limited support and are forced to be great parents, great housekeepers, great chefs, and great workers all at once. When one ball starts to drop, we place the blame on ourselves, and this gets us nowhere.

We need to let this go.

We want our kids to have positive, supportive, friends in their lives, right? So let's model that by taking time to Zoom with the girls, or going for a hike with our bestie. No guilt.

For more on the concept of mom guilt, check out this article from Lauren Smith Brody.


4. Take time for yourself

In a time of global burnout, parents are at particularly high risk. It's more important than ever to take care of ourselves, so we can show up well for our kids.

"Self-care" has become a social trend that looks a lot like bubble baths and glasses of wine. If that's what it looks like for you, that's great!

But if it's not...figure out what works. We have to put on our own oxygen mask, before assisting others.

For me, self-care looks like getting out in the sun and making sure I exercise every day. Sometimes it's as simple as just taking a few minutes away from the kids to scroll on my phone. Sometimes it looks like going to bed early.

If we're not healthy (physically AND mentally), that will negatively affect the whole family.


Resolutions are hard to keep, but they're much easier with an accountability buddy. Grab your partner, your circle of friends with kids, your bestie, or Bria and Tabitha, and let everyone know what your goals are!

What are your resolutions for 2022?

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