When I was a kid, my family had a New Year’s Eve tradition to write down our resolutions for the upcoming year, put them in an envelope, and tuck them away to review for the last day of the year. Although it felt good to open up and realize achievements from the previous year, the power was mostly in writing down, pen on paper (ok…crayon on paper), what our hopes and goals were. Manifestation is something I have always believed in and practiced, and I think it must come from these early experiences of setting intentions for the new year. Never will I forget opening my 1990 NYE envelope reading, “I will learn to ride a bike with no training wheels.” I stood tall with pride and announced to my family, “I did that! I did what I said I would do!”
My New Year’s Resolutions these days are very different. Admittedly, I get sucked into the “Eat less sugar, work out more, drink less Starbucks…” but as a mom, I also aim to be a better parent. This year, I challenge you to join me! Now, if you follow my blogs, you know that I am big on embracing failures ( January 2021 issue of Neighborhood Parent Network Magazine, Parent to Parent: #Real Talk “A Child Therapist’s Top 10 Covid-19 Parenting Fails.). I am in no way setting us to feel shame, failure, or overwhelm. We got this! Below are some resolutions that I believe we can all look back on approaching 2023 and say, “I did that! I did what I said I would do!”
5 totally achievable parenting resolutions for 2022!
We are the number one influence in teaching our children how to manage difficult emotions and experiences in life. Before our children learn how to “self-regulate,” they are “other-regulated” by us. This means that they are not only watching how we handle stress, but they are feeling how we handle our emotions and navigate adversities. Of course, we must take care of ourselves to care for our children, and our children deserve to have healthy parents who take care of themselves. But it actually goes deeper than this. We teach our children the importance of self-care, respecting our boundaries, and practicing coping skills. So go ahead, take that long bath, say “no” to that 6th day of work, go to the dentist! By focusing on you, you are being a supermodel parent!
Make Time to Play:
Play may look different depending on your child’s age. What is most important is that you are present, intentional, and having fun! You can’t have a good belly laugh if you feel unsafe or stressed. Get down on your child’s level, blow bubbles, toss a balloon in the air, tell jokes, thumb wrestle! Research shows that just 10 minutes a day of undivided attention makes a significant difference in your attachment and bond to your child. So start there! You can do anything for 10 minutes, especially if the goal is to have fun.
Repair the Ruptures:
You will mess up a lot this year. Forget to engage in self-care, which will result in you losing your cool or handling a tough situation less than gracefully. You will get too busy to play; you may even detach due to the overwhelm of “real life.” Maybe you will forget how to play (or have to learn how to play). There will be arguments, and you’ll find yourself regretting words said, or even feel regret, realizing you were wrong. This is OK! And this resolution could not happen without these ruptures. Make it your goal to REPAIR with your child. Truly, authentically, and thoroughly repair the ruptures that have been made. The beauty of repair is that it actually deepens your relationship and creates growth in the brain.
Mindfulness can seem intimidating for many. However, its values – being in the moment, feeling connected to our bodies, and connecting to the space around us – are crucial to our social and emotional growth and well-being. This does not have to be complicated! Find opportunities to practice mindfulness with your child in little moments during your day. Walking home from school, just noticing the sounds. Or at dinner, taking a moment to notice the smells. Feeling the comfort and softness of a favorite stuffed animal. These small opportunities to bring our senses into awareness are little but impactful ways to alleviate stress and create a feeling of safety in mind and body. For more, check out our blog, “5 Easy Mindfulness Practices for Parents.”
And last, practice acceptance. Acceptance of your child and all that they are. This does not mean that you agree with or approve of all your child’s beliefs or choices. It does mean that you value, hear, and allow space for all your child is coming to you with. When children feel listened to and accepted, they are more likely to feel valued, be flexible, compromise, and even accept your parenting limits and boundaries.
5 Totally Achievable Parenting Resolutions for 2022! So come join me, jot these down, put them on your fridge as a daily reminder, and set your intention! No need to be perfect. Through the failures, repairs, and wins, I am right here with you! If you are looking for resources on being more mindful, present, accepting, and playful in your parenting, check out any of Dan Siegal’s books! The Power of Showing Up: How Parental Presence Shapes Who Our Kids Become and How Their Brains Get Wired is a great place to start!
I wish us all a healthy and connected 2022. Happy New Year!
Ritamaria is a Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor and Certified Theraplay Therapist, Trainer, and Supervisor. She has spent her professional career as a pediatric therapist, clinical supervisor, and clinical director of Individual and Family Connection. Ritamaria lives in Oak Park with her husband and daughters, ages 6 and 2.