As the year comes to a close, the new year resolution ideas start to flow. This year, we resolve, we’re going to be the perfect partner. The perfect employee. The perfect parent.
Oftentimes, though, this quest for perfection only makes us feel worse: inadequate, overworked, guilty…and somehow still not doing enough. Sound familiar? Then we invite you to join us in moving past these all-too-common “guilt moments” to become a happier, kinder and better parent—not just for the new year but for years to come.
1. Set Specific Time
Guilt Moment: “I keep letting work distract me from spending time with my family.”
Resolution: Set specific time aside for your kids.
Sometimes you can’t avoid taking work home (especially now when work is often IN the home), so be kind to yourself! Instead of setting an all-or-nothing rule that’s impossible to keep (like “Absolutely no work at home”), focus on more achievable guidelines for family time. For instance, commit to giving your kids your full attention for at least 15 minutes as soon as you get home or sign off of work, establish a no-phones rule at the dinner table or create a fun routine of reading together before bed.
2. Commit to a Tiny Task
Guilt Moment: “Dirty laundry, dust bunnies, a sink full of dishes…what a mess!”
Resolution: Do one quick chore every time you think the house is messy.
We all share the dream of a perfectly clean, camera-ready home—but for most of us, this really is just a dream. Whenever you feel stressed out about the inevitable mess, make it a rule to accomplish one tiny task: pick up one toy, start one dishwasher load or dust one shelf—and don’t forget to enlist some help from the family! Then remind yourself that a messy home is a well-loved home and allow yourself to let it go!
3. Get the Family Active
Guilt Moment: “How can I set a good example for my kids when I haven’t worked out in months?”
Resolution: Make exercise a family affair.
Rather than worry about a formal exercise regimen, build kid-friendly outdoor activities or casual workouts into your weekly routine. Do some YouTube yoga with your little ones in the morning, head to the local baseball diamond to play catch after school or take a family stroll after dinner. Making exercise a normal part of life will not only keep you and your kids active (and relieve any lingering guilt about skipping the gym), but it’ll also provide the perfect opportunity for family bonding.
4. Simplify Mealtime
Guilt Moment: “Fast food again?! My kid’s diet is terrible.”
Resolution: Plan simple meals for each week (And use services when you need to!).
Shuttling between work, school and extracurriculars can be exhausting, and sometimes there’s just no time for homemade meals. Make things easier on yourself by setting a meal schedule for each week, prepping in advance as much as possible and giving yourself a break on those extra-busy days.
Serve homemade meals when you can, but don’t feel bad about grabbing something quick, packing an easy thermos lunch or using a nutritious meal delivery service like Nurture Life. Remember: you don’t have to make homemade bread or slow-braised beef every day to be a “good” parent!
5. Slow it Down
Guilt Moment: “Gymnastics, chess club, swim lessons, tutoring… it’s still not enough!” (or at least in a normal year)
Resolution: Give yourself permission to slow down.
It goes without saying that you want the best for your kids, but piling on more and more enrichment activities can actually become counterproductive—and leave you feeling like you’re never doing enough.
Don’t worry about keeping up with your fellow PTA members or providing your kids every single opportunity in the world. Instead, allow yourself to slow down. You might even consider cutting an extracurricular or two in favor of some relaxed, unplanned family time. After all, some of your kids’ best memories will come from those spontaneous trips to the park and spur-of-the-moment movie marathons!
If you’re wondering how to be a better parent, we’re big believers in this basic guideline: don’t be too hard on yourself. There’s no such thing as the perfect parent, and chasing perfection only steals the joy of growing together as a family.
Your kids won’t remember skipping one piano lesson or eating takeout two nights in a row; they’ll only remember the interest and love you showed them—and that’s a family new year resolution that lasts far longer than a year!