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Resolutions for the new year, parenting-style

At the end of each year, we make resolutions, swearing that we'll finally do a multitude of undone things: lose weight, stop smoking, start writing that novel, take that long-delayed trip to Barcelona.

But do we also make a separate list of resolutions solely focused on our jobs as moms and dads? Maybe 2010 is the perfect time to start.

There are probably 870 things I could and should do more effectively as a mom. But since that list would make for the longest, dullest blog post ever, here are five of the more important ones on my list. By all means, share your own resolutions -- and rip mine to shreds -- by posting a comment.

1. Be more mindful of the words I use in my child's presence. I certainly don't curse when my son is around. But the fact that he recently repeated something that I said during a particularly stressful Christmas Eve moment -- "If you don't stop it right now I am going to lose my patience!" -- tells me that I could try harder to take a deep breath, gather my emotions and choose my catchphrases more carefully.

2. Prioritize my time more effectively. This comes down to doing a better job of saying no to the unnecessary things and yes to the right ones. Translation: don't spend an hour reading and writing Facebook status updates or watching crummy movie trailers online; do play a more active role at my son's daycare center and plan more enriching activities (music classes, trips to the library) for us to do as a family during the weekends.


3. Say no less frequently. This is a lesson I learned from, of all things, a Clive Owen movie that about seven people saw. In "The Boys Are Back," Owen played a dad who took permissiveness to an extreme. While I have no plans to let me son cannonball into a hotel bathtub, the film reminded me that sometimes I say no reflexively, for no real reason. This year, I resolve to let my boy eat yogurt with a fork and, when he insists, wear socks that don't match.

4. Give myself -- and other parents -- a break. Moms and dads may hate to admit it, but we can be pretty judgmental of each other. And we're at our "judgiest" when we look at ourselves in the mirror. This year, I'll try harder to remember that we all lose our tempers and make parental mistakes from time to time, and that it's only fair to cut my child-rearing colleagues, and myself, some slack.

5. Make more time for my child. This is the biggie. As a full-time working mother married to a full-time working father, the hours in each day already get sucked up, to a large extent, by commuting, being in the office and dealing with all the tedious, necessary tasks related to home ownership. So during the hours when I am with my son, I'll do my best to set aside the laptop, stop checking that e-mail, put off the bill-paying and just be with my boy. Play Legos with him. Read him another bedtime story without thinking about how much I still have to get done before midnight. Love him fully in every moment, without worries about deadlines or errands that need attending, until the minute he drifts off to sleep.

By Jen Chaney |  December 31, 2009; 6:00 AM ET  | Category:  Work/Life Balance
Previous: Creating a sense of 'home' when home keeps moving | Next: Farewell

Comments


I decided a couple of decades ago that the whole new year's resolution thing wasn't very smart. When one recognizes that whatever-it-is needs to be changed, change it *right* *then* in the moment of recognition. There's absolutely no good reason to wait for the end of the year. If it can wait, then it's not going to be important or an effective change - I believe that's the real reason most people fail to keep their resolutions.

The last time I made a new year's resolution (which I failed to keep!) I was a teen. Since then, when I decide in the moment, I stick with my decision, and what I need to change gets changed for keeps.

Posted by: SueMc | December 30, 2009 4:54 PM | Report abuse

Jen, I love your resolutions. I might add to setting aside the laptop, to turn off our cell phones as we play with our kids or even walk them around the block. There is too much to talk about with them to be interrupted! That goes along with "loving them fully in every moment!"
I am a speech pathologist who works with kids and parents, showing them how to talk, read and play with their children to encourage language development. Setting aside your undivided time for your child is a giant step in starting the creative process of playing imaginatively with your child.
Sherry Artemenko

http://www.playonwords.com

Posted by: playonwordscom | December 30, 2009 8:48 PM | Report abuse

Jen, this has been your most self absorbed topic I've seen from you so far. It beats all, seriously.

" I certainly don't curse when my son is around...",
"If you don't stop it right now I am going to lose my patience"

Oh Please!

Let your kid wear unmatched socks? Eat yogurt with a fork? Oh gosh, Heaven forbid! What if your neighbors knew?

And whining about all the things you have to think about before midnight because of your busy, busy full-time work and home ownership status really triggers the martyr alert.

Yep Jen, For the resume for the plastic mother parenting award, I'd say you hit this one out of the park.

Posted by: WhackyWeasel | December 31, 2009 8:27 AM | Report abuse

I want to play outside more with my child. Snow, rain, wind or sun, let's go outside together!

Posted by: ishgebibble | December 31, 2009 8:50 AM | Report abuse

Am I from another planet? Does anyone think this statement is overly harsh?

"If you don't stop it right now I am going to lose my patience"

I mean, really?? I guess my kids are going to end up in therapy, then.

Posted by: floof | December 31, 2009 9:06 AM | Report abuse

Happpy New Year fellow On Parenting bloggers!

Posted by: sunflower571 | December 31, 2009 9:18 AM | Report abuse

floof- No, that's not harsh.

Wacky- As a previously high-strung type A who has been blissfully, thankfully broken, I can attest that the socks and the fork are indeed a real thing to say "no" to. Now I have a 3 year old who dresses like a hobo and eats with her microscopic tea set utensils. The baby has been eating table food standing at her sister's play table rather than strapped in a high chair since she could stand. Life is good!

Sunflower- A happy new year to you, too.

Posted by: atb2 | December 31, 2009 9:36 AM | Report abuse

floof, I don't see how that is harsh or inappropriate either.

Posted by: dennis5 | December 31, 2009 9:45 AM | Report abuse

floof: the reality is that one needs to tell little kids that there are some things that adults can say that kids can't say. my parents said stuff like that all the time - we KNEW we weren't supposed to. but, well, in today's day and age...well, parents think children are little adults. But they're not.

My resolutions? for my kids? not much. i like them a lot. i would try not to get so angry with them, remember that they are really good kids, who sometimes mess up.

Posted by: atlmom1234 | December 31, 2009 9:50 AM | Report abuse

"he recently repeated something that I said during a particularly stressful Christmas Eve moment -- "If you don't stop it right now I am going to lose my patience!" -- tells me that I could try harder to take a deep breath, gather my emotions and choose my catchphrases more carefully."

Are you kidding me? Instead of worrying you were too harsh I think you should contemplate why it's not ok for you to say "if you don't stop right now I'm getting the wooden spooon". Worked just fine for my grandparents who often had me and my cousins over for days at a time and we all turned out great. And over all those years I can only ever remember the wooden spoon actually making an appearance one time - just mentioning it was all that was needed to restore some order. (I'm 35 in case you think I'm reminiscing about something that happened back in the roaring 20's.)

People should make a resolution to stop kowtowing to their kids and trying to be their best friend - you're creating a generation of self-entitled brats. This is the kind of thinking that leads to the ridiculous-ness of parents attending their children's college orientation or helping them with job interviews.

Posted by: MacGruber | December 31, 2009 10:14 AM | Report abuse

I think the only reason that anyone would think "If you don't stop it right now I am going to lose my patience!" is at all harsh is that it is a threat. If you don't ___, then I will ___.

I still don't see what the big deal is, you'd looking to teach your kid consequences and "losing patience" is as vague and non-scary as it comes. How would you teach consequences without the if___ then___ construction?

I don't think any kid would grow up thinking mommy has no control of her temper because she threatens to lose her patience...what happens when she does, on the other hand might be a whole other story.

Posted by: crayolasunset | December 31, 2009 10:48 AM | Report abuse

macgruber: so true. Seriously - we are teaching our children to respect adults and to be independent. I think it will serve them well. My kids would play wii all day if I let them. Sometimes we just say no. And that's the answer, and I don't have to justify myself to my 7 YO. Go find something else to do. I get the 'but everything else is so boring' - all the time. But they eventually find something else to do.

Posted by: atlmom1234 | December 31, 2009 10:49 AM | Report abuse

atlmom- Yeah, but don't you pick your battles? Are you going to fight them over socks and forks? Giving my kid some choice in her life is a good thing.

Posted by: atb2 | December 31, 2009 10:51 AM | Report abuse

I thought these were all good resolutions, and ones I had been thinking about too. Yes, "I will lose my patience" is not that harsh, but I have winced when I have recognized my tone of voice or words come out of my son.

Posted by: MassIndy | December 31, 2009 10:58 AM | Report abuse

Well, another year of missing out on Mother of the Year... so I guess I'll just do what I think is best -- let my kids know just how much they're loved. And how much we expect of them, and how capable they are of doing things themselves. Along the way we'll laugh at things, we'll figure out how to be angry and get over it, we'll appreciate the people we are because of them. Sounds like a good approach with StrollerDaddy as well.
Sunflower -- I didn't hear how your Christmas dinner went -- did everyone get it?

Posted by: StrollerMomma | December 31, 2009 11:03 AM | Report abuse

I hear alot of guilt from parents about looking at email and using their laptops at home. It puzzles me. We want balance; we want flexibility, and yet the tools that free some of us from having to work late at the office or put in facetime become something else to beat ourselves up over. The work still has to get done in order to provide that whole food and shelter thing which kids need, but now it can get done after a family dinner eaten at 6 p.m., instead of one or both parents being tethered to the confines of an office until 9 or later during the week. Now, if you're on your laptop playing Bedazzled for 45 minutes instead of playing with cars on the floor with your 3 year old? Time for a priority-check.

My new year's resolution is to be thankful for the job and the laptop. It permits us to do more of our jobs at home than away from our families.

Thanks to Jen for a great blog and addressing something more substantial than toys, gifts, consumer products and other over-done unimportant fluff.

Posted by: anonfornow | December 31, 2009 11:24 AM | Report abuse

I heard on the new yesterday (from a "life coach" ahem!) that New Year's resolutions should be very specific, not broad. So Jen is following the "professional" advice and making very specific resolutions.....and to this I say - SO WHAT??

I have never been too interested in reading other people's resolutions and today is no different. I hope you all meet whatever goals and objectives you set and Happy New Year!

Posted by: cheekymonkey | December 31, 2009 12:46 PM | Report abuse

"but I have winced when I have recognized my tone of voice or words come out of my son. "

See, I don't always think this is a bad thing. My kids will have to go out into the world knowing how to stand up for themselves, and if they don't learn it from me they aren't going to pick it up anywhere else. My oldest is 4.5 and she already has to deal with a bossy, queen-bee type in her preschool class (which I hope this child outgrows for her own sake). I'm glad that she knows how to deal with a situation like this, or she'd be having a miserable year at school.

Posted by: floof | December 31, 2009 12:49 PM | Report abuse

Sunflower -- I didn't hear how your Christmas dinner went -- did everyone get it?

Posted by: StrollerMomma

No, it was funny but famil didn't get it. My DH opened the door with a blue shirt on, the table was set with blue and white and silver and my even put up some blue lights and my Grandma and Aunt came into the dining room and I said, "Well, I guess you know now!" And my Gram said, " A girl!" I had told them all so many times that I was convinced that it was a girl that they thought I just decorated in blue because I love blue and white together. LOL. They were all happy to hear it's a boy, especially my little brother.

Posted by: sunflower571 | December 31, 2009 12:55 PM | Report abuse

atb: i'm with you re: socks and forks. My kids dress themselves, have for some time. They do come up with some strange combinations, but hey, it's one less thing I have to do.

Posted by: atlmom1234 | December 31, 2009 1:06 PM | Report abuse

..."since that list would make for the longest, dullest blog post."

TheRealTruth sees jezebel3 took the day off, as there is no chance she would be able to avoid plucking the low hanging fruit.

Posted by: TheRealTruth | December 31, 2009 4:03 PM | Report abuse

Here's hoping that everyone's holiday was a happy one (especially for Billie) and that the new year will be a good one for us all. May your resolutions be ones you can embrace and keep, and if you don't keep them, may you be able to forgive yourself and move on. Though my kids are now adults and I now have one grandchild, I still enjoy reading about parenting issues and your varied respnses to the issues at hand. Parenting never really ends--it just changes with the age of your kids and grandkids. :) Happy New Year to you all!

Lynne

Posted by: lsturt | December 31, 2009 5:29 PM | Report abuse

Amusingly, #1 appears to be in direct conflict with #4 - you're seriously getting your knickers in a twist about your kid repeating "If you don't stop it right now I am going to lose my patience!" ??? You obviously need to lighten up *way* more than you even realize. If you think kids don't need to know in a serious way when they are close to crossing the line, how on earth are you going to deal with them when they are teenagers???

Posted by: Bguhl | December 31, 2009 7:57 PM | Report abuse

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Posted by: iofferkicks297 | December 31, 2009 9:48 PM | Report abuse

Good Lord, to even think that one could possibly lose patience with a child, ever, for any reason, much less say so outloud to another human being, much less an actual child! The horror!

Seriously, why is it wrong to occasionally ask a kid to stop doing something because it is getting on your nerves? You deserve as much courtesy as the next person.

Posted by: di89 | December 31, 2009 11:13 PM | Report abuse

Parenting blog Stats - Year of 2009

For the 277 different topics, a total of 9663 comments were submitted by 1380 different posters during the year of

2009. The average number of posts per blog was approx 35.

The top 10 Listed by number of submissions:

96 the_two_words_that_can_drive_a
97 my_child_my_choice
99 playing_the_name_game
104 relatives_the_good_and_the_bad
122 26000_a_year
128 ann_coulter_and_single_moms
135 the_brady_bunch_revisited_deba
144 what_working_mothers_attack_on
157 yes_folks_breastfeeding_in_pub
158 dads_in_the_delivery_room_a_ba

Top Posters listed below:

20 liziko; 20 Stacey Garfinkle; 20 supersonic1; 21 Amelia5; 21 lsturt; 21 mlc2; 21 MzFitz; 21 PLozar; 21

youngnovamama; 22 afsljafweljkjlfe; 22 KatLuvsShoes; 22 Mmex; 22 rebeldad; 23 TheRealTruth; 24 bubba777; 24 Fred; 25

cqjudge; 25 rh36; 26 Fred_and_Frieda; 27 pinkoleander; 28 ElaineatLipstickdaily; 28 rr321; 28 StaceyGarfinkle; 29

Justsaying4; 29 sjneal; 31 quark2; 32 anonthistime; 32 stephs98; 32 tomtildrum; 33 Baltimore11; 34 JJ321; 37

anonymous_one; 37 NoVAHockey; 40 di89; 43 janedoe5; 43 StrollerMomma; 44 WorkingMomX; 45 newslinks1; 46

HuckleberryFriend; 46 LizaBean; 48 ishgebibble; 49 annenh; 51 pipe1; 51 thosewilsongirls; 56 Soguns1; 58 RedBird27;

64 atb2; 67 JHBVA; 74 Alex511; 76 KS100H; 81 captiolhillmom; 86 dragondancer1814; 86 GroovisMaximus61; 100

anonfornow; 108 FairlingtonBlade; 120 VaLGaL; 144 newsahm; 155 floof; 157 Billie_R; 160 foamgnome; 174 pwaa; 179

moxiemom1; 186 dennis5; 211 interestingidea1234; 219 SueMc; 232 emily8; 235 06902; 239 laura33; 280 sunflower571;

361 atlmom1234; 364 ArmyBrat1; 375 WhackyWeasel; 401 cheekymonkey; 479 jezebel3;

Happy New Year!

Posted by: BlogStats | January 1, 2010 8:46 AM | Report abuse

man: so I didn't make it into top posters of 2009. Now I have a goal for 2010.

Posted by: atlmom1234 | January 4, 2010 10:11 AM | Report abuse

120 VaLGaL ACK! Get back to work VaLGaL!

Happy New Year everyone!

Posted by: VaLGaL | January 4, 2010 10:42 AM | Report abuse

oh, wait, I completely missed this:

361 atlmom1234;

I can survive again. :)

Posted by: atlmom1234 | January 4, 2010 12:21 PM | Report abuse

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Posted by: Alex511 | January 4, 2010 12:53 PM | Report abuse

i gotta go with some of what macgruber says. this entire list is very kid-centric. how about making time for the family to include your spouse? i get that my son won't be a kid forever but he's not the center of the world; a little balance please. i think it's good for my son to see me enjoying activities that i enjoy rather than get down on the floor & play legos with him.

Posted by: quark2 | January 4, 2010 2:50 PM | Report abuse

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