I’ve always been a big fan of goals and setting new year’s resolutions always excited me. With fresh excitement for the new year and a “new me” I would write a long list of resolutions. I wanted to try out all sorts of new hobbies, routines, or habits. Little did I know, I was really setting myself up for failure, every year! Too many goals, no focus, and no strategy. Most from those long lists fell through before the quarter year was up. Maybe next year right? Well, if this was me before becoming a mom, you can only imagine my epic failures with new year’s resolutions if I kept this up as a busy mom of two!
Thankfully, I believe I have figured out the secret to setting and keeping goals that result in the wonderful family life we all aim for. For me, the secret revealed itself after piecing together the great advice I’d read in each of my life’s major phases. As a corporate gal, I read books like “7 Habits of Highly Effective People” by Stephen R. Covey. As a mom, I read books like “Simplicity Parenting” from Kim John Payne. And for myself, I read books like “The Power of Now” by Eckhart Tolle. There was something similar underlying in all these reads. If you really want to let your life blossom, you need to get to the root of things.
Set small attainable resolutions.
A big reason why my resolutions would fall through was because I wasn’t focused. I wanted to do so much all at once. As any parent would know, kids don’t leave us parents with much time to accomplish too much. So the key is to keep it simple, not in the content of your list like “read more books”, but in the length of your list. Keep your list short. Two to three resolutions are great. Even just having one big resolution is A ok!
Build your new resolution into your routine.
Ideas for new year resolutions are endless, just google it or scroll through Pinterest. There are some really great ones too, like “tend a berry garden”, or “volunteer at an animal shelter”. You can easily come up with a list of awesome goals to set. But for many families, these awesome resolutions don’t make it through. I believe this happens because we forget or some of us don’t know that in order for a new goal to be achieved, we need to build it into our routines. So saying you want to spend more time with your kids outdoors is great but you need to build it into your day to day life. Again, start small. Always, start small. That means, setting 15 minutes on lets say Wednesday to do an activity outdoors can make all the difference between keeping your new year’s resolutions and not. During your 15 minutes take a nature walk, mend the garden, or water the plants. It can look like this: Thursdays before starting dinner, you and the kids go to the garden to trim the bushes, call it Trimming Thursdays if that works.
Likewise, if you want to read more with the kids, then set the time for it in your routine. Here is when you need to get specific. Having a general resolution like “read more” isn’t going to help you much. Try being more specific like “read children’s books with the kids for 20 minutes after dinner and dishes are done”. For us, reading is important, but what happens when your kids are responsive to reading at different times of the day? Andreas, our almost four year old, is more of a nighttime reader, but Maya, our wild two year old, can care less for reading at night, she rather use her last moments before bedtime to make messes. So since reading is important, we had to set two specific goals. Maya’s reading time would instead be just after waking up. At this time she’s snuggly and likes bringing you a book to the couch. Win-win!
Friends often ask us how come our nights of putting two kids to bed are pretty stress free. I can’t say that’s true every night. But yes, our nights are pretty good. My husband and I set up Stewardships (after reading 7 Habits). He is responsible for his tasks and me mine. All tasks are covered, nothing left to assumptions. We do the same things every night, in the same order, at the same time. Boring? Fine with us. We rather have two sleeping kids and time for ourselves than spontaneity. If you don’t have a good working night routine with the kids, than I would definitely recommend you start with this resolution one as your number one goal for the year. This is a big one, so it can be that it’s your only one. And that is FINE!
For us, we set out to prepare lunch as a family on Sundays. From going to the market for ingredients to preparing to eating together. You may find this common in most families, but living in Nicaragua is definitely different for us. Here we are blessed to have help at home, so the cooking is taken care of. Yes, you read correctly, we don’t have to cook! One huge incentive for moving here. But we actually miss it just a bit. We especially think it’s important for kids to participate in preparing meals. There are so many benefits to that. So we decided that this year we will prepare our own Sunday lunches. So far we’ve done burritos and German style. For this Sunday, we’re thinking Indian!
Our next goal was also fixed to Sundays and that’s gardening! It sounds like this: After breakfast we work on the garden until we need to prepare lunch. We will grow herbs, greens, berries, and a few small veggies. Also, we will build our own small nature playground. Having lots of garden space around us is important and a big reason for our move here too. We want the kids to be nature junkies, but that means we need to model it. My husband and I always liked the idea of growing our food and now we have the space for it, so green thumbs are coming out! We started last Sunday and it went great! We simply cleared the space but we all really enjoyed it. Andreas is super excited for the nature playground.
Be totally present.
My words about being in the present moment aren’t as eloquent and in spirit as Eckardt Tolle is in his book “The Power of Now”, so if you haven’t read his book, go now. Stop reading this and go read or listen to it. It’s simply transformational, if you let it be. But if you want to finish this article, that’s great too ; )
No matter what your new endeavour is, give it your full attention while you are doing it. And that requires a bit of preparation. The biggest challenge we face today with being present is our phone. So while you’re on that nature walk, planting seeds, or reading a bedtime story, leave your phone behind. Unplug. Period. It’s not impossible to do so, you just need to prepare for it. Let your family and friends know about your new activities and what times your unavailable so they won’t interrupt with a ring or a ding. As a side bonus, telling your friends can also help keep you accountable for your new goals. Put your phone on mute and set aside in a drawer or whatever it takes to just not have it in your hands or in your pocket. Your kids deserve your fullest and so do you. Unplugging will feel liberating once you go through the withdrawal symptoms. And it will be easier and easier each time. Enjoy that process too.
Sometimes, and hopefully, just a few exceptional times, you may need to be available for a call during your activities. Just make sure your family knows ahead of time. Let them know that you are expecting a message or a call that you need to attend to but that it will be brief and you will get back to them right away. I promise, they will appreciate the heads up, and when the ding sounds, they will understand and wait for you patiently. I’ve done this a handful of times and it works without fail.
Revisit your intentions.
Once your resolution has settled nicely into your life, it’s always good to take time to assess how it has impacted your life and that of your family’s. Revisit your reasons for wanting to make the change and whether or not the result is making a positive impact. If it’s not, then something has to change. Perhaps it’s not the time yet for your family or maybe your family needs to make some additional changes in order to make it happen.
Lastly, now is also a good time to think of your next goals. Perhaps your family is ready for something new. Now that you guys are pros at setting and keeping resolutions you can make some (or one) more!
Hope this has been helpful and if practiced, bring you and your family much success and happiness. I’d love to hear from you. What are your family’s new year’s resolutions? Write in the comments box.