I like resolutions. I like the process of becoming a stronger person. I like the idea that, no matter how difficult a situation may be, there is something I can do to turn it around. There are always positive changes I can make to my life.
And not only at the start of a new year! Of course there is something inspiring about beginning a new calendar year with healthy new habits, but I love resolutions any time they present themselves. The start date isn’t as important as the start. Every day, every hour, every minute is another chance to start something. There are no rules on when is the “right time” to make a change for the better, and January 1 is just as fine a day as a Tuesday afternoon in mid-August.
That said, in the spirit of new beginnings, I can’t help consider what changes I’d like to invite into my life right now. There are some, for sure…there always are.
Listen to understand, not to respond.
Listening to kids isn’t about responding to their words, but about understanding who they are. Listening for understanding gives a parent perspective on a child’s needs, feelings, thoughts, and decisions, which leads to a stronger connection and more effective parenting. This year, I resolve to listen to my children not with the intent to respond to them, but with the intent to understand them.
As kids get older, opportunities to touch them diminish. They become independent. We no longer need to put on their clothes, socks, shoes. We don’t need to brush their teeth or their hair. They are capable of washing themselves. The kinds of interactions they need from us don’t require as much loving touch as they used to, but that doesn’t mean they don’t need to be touched lovingly the way they used to. This year, I resolve to touch, hug, hold, and cuddle my children, especially when I don’t think I need to.
As a former school teacher and as a current parent, I can’t think of a lesson that is better learned through lecture than through action. This year, I resolve to teach more by example, less through words.
Do things that make me feel good.
When children regularly get the quality time they need with each parent, their behavior becomes more appropriate. Similarly, when I regularly get the time to myself that I need, my behavior also becomes more appropriate. This year, when dividing my time, I resolve to not always put myself last.
Focus on the now.
The most important work parents do is in our own homes. Not working from home, as in building and maintaining a career, but the work we do in making a home. The relationships we establish here and teach our kids to expect from others. The examples we set for them. The senses of confidence, significance, and belonging that our children come to understand while they grow up in our homes. This is my work right now; this is where my focus needs to be. Instead of my mind always on the future, this year I resolve to live each day with presence of mind.