Think that resolutions are just for the New Year? When it comes to parenting, making changes that benefit your family (and your parenting style) can happen any day of the year. Brandi Davis, founder of Child & Family Coaching, and Philadelphia Magazine’s Best Modern Day Parenting Guru of 2016, shares her top 5 parenting resolutions you can make today.
We think that resolutions are only for January 1st, NO WAY. Here are 5 parenting resolutions that you can make now (yes NOW). Or tomorrow or the next day, really, it’s up to you of course. Your life ’n’ all. But I’m here to tell you that you can make that fresh start at whenever you wanna.
1. I will let go of apologizing.
Kids are weird, quirky, “rude,” emotional, distractible, excited (etc, etc). Basically, kids are people. This may not seem like a newsflash, but many of us forget this. We think kids are just kids. Nope. They are complicated and full of quirks and edges. They do stuff that makes us glow with pride and giggle with adoration they also do things that embarrass and horrify us. We end up in situations where we feel that we have to apologize for our kids, and it happens more often than it needs to. I am gonna change your life right here: Wanna know why you don’t have to constantly apologize for your child? (drum roll, please) They are their own whole and complete person. We didn’t choose to dump raisins on the floor. We didn’t toss out ‘tude. We didn’t burp in the middle of dinner (bet their body felt better). We do need to address unsafe and unkind behaviors, but we do not need to apologize for every misstep our kids make. It’s just such a heavy burden to carry. All of their missteps AND our own? Exhausting. Let’s let our kids make own their choices and take responsibility for them. Then we can stop taking on the burden of all of those apologies. Embrace their weirdness and uniqueness and let them own and take responsibility for their less admirable traits.
And, on the grown-up end of things, let’s stop apologizing for not wanting to help someone move, for caring about what you care about, for eating that burger, for not washing your hair that week, for living in yoga pants (I LOVE YOGA PANTS, and I don’t even do yoga). We are busy; we hate moving; we just are too tired to care about our hair; we want that burger (and no we are not gonna go to the gym right after). Be kind and thoughtful, but don’t apologize for being you and needing to take care of you. Save all those apologies for when they are truly needed.
2. I Will Own My NO and Find My YES.
I am going to give you permission to do something that will change your life. It will give you more time and eliminate some major life stress. Ready??? Say NO. Say no to plans you don’t want to participate in, committees you don’t want join, “No, I don’t want to be the head of the 1st grade dance committee nor will I bring refreshments. I wanna binge watch Game Of Thrones before the new season starts.”
Say no to unwanted things that your kids are doing. Pee by yourself, “No, you cannot come in with me. I am taking my moment.” Get your body back, “You may sit next to me but not on me. No, not on me, I need space”. It is OK to say no. And, no, you don’t even need a great reason. Sometimes we just don’t have the energy to talk to people, or we don’t want get dressed. Sometimes we need to have a grown up conversation and (no) our child cannot interrupt. It will be apparent if it is an emergency. Check for bleeding or the potty dance. Not there, tell ‘em kindly to wait. As I always say, if we give all to our kids, we will have nothing left to give.
On the flip side start saying YES. Say yes to grown-up plans with friends; you deserve play dates too. Plan a date night; your relationship with your partner, if you have one, needs to be a priority. We often push that aside, thinking the kids must come first. NO. Their safety and health are a priority, sure, but your relationship must be at the top. When your relationship is strong, your team will be strong, and your family will be strong. No need for a big night out, either. Grab pizza and a beer, a walk in the park, or any time alone that means something to you will keep you close, laughing and a strong team. SAY YES. Be crazy. Have pizza for breakfast, you AND the kids. Who says breakfast has to be eggs? Make chocolate chip pancakes with extra chips, or extra extra chips. Your kids will love it and morning will be filled with giggles and memory makers.
Also, be sure to say yes to taking care of yourself, say yes to you-time. Say yes to getting your hair done, working out, 15 minutes of quiet. Say yes to reading alone. To sending that email in peace. Say yes to going out for a cup of coffee. Say yes to signing up to play kickball, softball, darts. Say yes to being with people who do not ask you to wipe their noses or do their homework. You need to remember that you are a person too, one with needs and wants and if we give all to our kids then… You know the rest. It’s really important!!!!
3. I Will Quit My Valet Gig.
Your kids do not live at Downton Abby, and they are not members of the Royal Court, so stop dressing them, cleaning up after them, and throwing things out for them. Your kids are capable. Yes, 2 year olds are capable; we are the ones holding them back, and in doing so we add so much to our list. Your kids can clean up their toys. They had the energy to play with them, and it’s just not that complicated to pick things up and put them away. They can clear their place after a meal; they do it at school. They can put dirty clothes in the hamper, and clean ones in their dresser drawers. And, for the love of all things good, they can throw that tissue out in the trash can that is 2 feet away from the both of you. By helping too much, we are aiming to show love and nurturing, but what we are really doing is keeping our kids from achieving, from filling that self-esteem bucket. When kids accomplish tasks they learn that they CAN, and CAN is important. When kids feel that they CAN, they will try new tasks and activities, and feel confident doing so. When we do accomplishable tasks for our kids, we also teach them that we will do things for them, that we basically work for them. Sure they need help (we all do), but when we drop everything to throw out the carrot that fell on the floor 4 inches from them because they don’t want to, that is not help; that is servitude. Sometimes it IS faster to do it ourselves and there are times that we MUST but every time a child does a task on their own they learn that they CAN. We don’t want to rob them of that. There may be some tears and initial push-back, but give your child the best gift, the gift of “I CAN,” and give yourself more time in the day. What other tasks can you give to your kids? You are a team, after all, and each member needs to help out the team.
4. I Will Streamline Discipline.
Discipline isn’t as easy as it seems, and we often make things tougher on ourselves with the complicated, high voltage, soap opera tear-filled variety. Let’s talk about how to stream line. First and foremost, you need fast follow through. We often threaten and give additional chances, but don’t actually follow through. We are tired, and don’t want the fight, but fast follow through is the key to discipline that works. You will also find that tantrums are less intense the quicker you follow through with a reaction for an action. Speaking of those reactions for actions, (A.K.A, consequences), they need to be consistent. The follow through has to be fast every time. When you follow through quickly, with consistent reactions for actions, then there is less yelling from everyone. Let the consequences do the talking. Oh, and don’t get pulled into the endless back and forth of fighting, convincing, begging, and negotiating. Be clear about your expectations and be clear about why the consequence happened, then end the conversation. “I was clear. I said if you were late one more time you could not play next door until you prove that you are responsible. No next-door play dates this week. You can yell and I will talk about anything else but I will not talk about this again. I was clear.”
Sound tough? Nah. When discipline is streamlined and on point, still customized to your child and situation, you will see change. There will be less screaming and over the top discipline that makes the family feel awful. There will be fewer tantrums and less fighting and everyone (including you), will be happier. Bonus: When this is in place, there will become less need for discipline. Kids know what is expected and (most of the time) make safer and more thoughtful choices.
5. I Will Break Some Rules.
Remember when rule breaking was a right of passage, when it made us feel powerful and excited? When we grow up, we feel like we have to be stellar models of perfection and poise all the time, though we often fall short and chastise ourselves. STOP THAT!! PERFECTION BE GONE! Get dirty, run in the rain, jump in puddles, make a mess! Laugh. Laugh a lot. Life is humorous and often laughing is the thing that keeps us sane. Keep your kids safe, get them where they need to be, teach life lessons, but be sure to have time for silly, time for goofy, good old fashioned fun. We don’t always have to be “grown-ups”. Remember when we were kids, remember when we were FUN? Let’s be that again! When you have fun with your family, and relax a bit on the stuff that is stressing both you and the kids out, there will be more cooperation and teamwork and less fighting and push-back. I like to say, as long as no one’s body or feelings get hurt it is good to break some rules sometimes.
So, today is the day, (or tomorrow or the next day, or whenever it seems right). Resolutions should not be relegated to just one day a year. A new start can happen at any time. Get out there and resolutionize (yup that’s a word, I wrote it, it’s real).
What are some other resolutions that you would like to make this year? Let me know in the comments below. Happy Resolution Day!
Brandi Davis, ACC is a certified Parenting Coach and has 20 years of early childhood education experience. She is a parenting contributor for Good Day Philly on Fox and won of Best Of Philly 2016, Best Modern Day Parenting Guru as well as Best For Parents in Philadelphia Family Magazine. Brandi brings her message of calm, focused and fun parenting to families through her coaching sessions, blogs, and classes. Find out more at www.childandfamilycoaching.com.