Being a new parent is an incredible time - but one that is often hard to appreciate or even remember. There's the sleep deprivation, of course. And the stress. And the isolation. And the massive changes to daily life that accompany a new baby and small children. Asking parents of small children to take on more via New Year Resolutions seems too audacious an ask. But what if those resolutions could help you be a better, more present parent? Or help turn a challenging first few years of parenthood into a beautiful time you treasure? Here are five New Year Resolutions that might do just that!
Resolution #1 - Self Care
While the term "self-care" might sound super bougie, doing what you need to get yourself emotionally, mentally, and physically healthy is imperative. What restores your soul? It doesn't have to be a vacation or a spa day you don't have time for. It can be as simple as taking a walk. Writing in a journal. Going on a date night. If you feel like you just don't have time for anything, check out this article for ways to make time for "me time."
Resolution #2 - See the Humor In It
When I was a kid, whenever things went a bit sideways I urged my parents to “see the humor in it.” When unexpected poop or pee sprays across your face while changing a diaper. When you look down at your blouse and realize it's covered with spit up. When you fall asleep on "date night" before you can out the door. See the humor in it. Choose to giggle. I promise, it is a great way to manage stress and remember challenges need not defeat us.
Resolution #3 - Get Organized
"Prepping makes things easy." "Stay on top of the laundry so it doesn't get overwhelming." "Sleep when your baby sleeps." "Make time for 'me time.'" "Don't miss a moment." "Get out into the world." "Enjoy this time; it goes too fast." Possibly sage maxims, but unless you have full-time help, those maxims are easier said than followed. Grown-ups have things to do - even on maternity or paternity leave. So how can you make the time to do what's needed and still get down time so you can enjoy this time? Get organized.
1. Realistic lists can help.
While some malign it, I am a huge fan of list-making. I really wouldn’t want to do without it. Nor could I. This is how things get done in our home. Especially when I am too tired to think or residual pregnancy brain (hormone-induced forgetfulness) makes it tough to keep track of what needs to be done.
2. Calendar it.
In addition to lists, try establishing a family calendar system as well. We use the Cozi app and love it. Hubs and I can each schedule appointments from our phones and can designate who needs to be present for it. For other great apps that can help make life easier, check out this article.
While we have never managed it, I know several families that have family/spouse meetings so everyone is on the same page. Really though, what it comes down to is communication.
Nine times out of ten, our crazy lives are manageable when they are properly managed. And happier, too.
Resolution #4 - Be Kind to You
This job called parenting is really hard sometimes. I was a partner in a law firm and a high stakes litigator for over 13 years, and I freely admit that was cake compared to my hardest parenting days. Being a new parent - at some point or another - is challenging for everyone. Literally, everyone. Even those who seem to make it look easy. Even those who have Instagram accounts packed with amazingly-curated parenting moments. Even the ones "owning" the trenches in their posts and blogs.
In my humble opinion, we need to remember that life is messy. We need to treat ourselves how we would treat someone else in the exact same situation. If someone else forgot to restock diapers or struggled with breast milk supply, would you find it unforgivable? If your friend had a messy home or ordered in a lot, would you think them deficient? If your sister cried because she was exhausted and felt overwhelmed, would you think she was a bad parent? It is crazy how harsh we can be when it comes to our own perceived "failings." We need to cut ourselves some slack and drop the harsh judgments and zealous expectations. As long as you aren't harming your baby, you are doing fine.
If you are struggling with anxiety or feeling down, please don't just dismiss it. Post partum depression and post partem anxiety disorders can sometimes go undetected. If you have any questions about whether what you are experiencing is "normal", please talk to your doctor. For more information, click here.