8 parenting resolutions for the New Year and how to make them stick

Do you keep promising yourself that you’ll be more patient, get off your phone and cook healthier meals for your family? Here’s how to stick to your resolutions in 2019.

family ny resolution

Mom guilt – it’s real and it can be all-consuming. No matter how hard we work for our family and how little energy we keep for our ourselves, we somehow feel like it’s never enough and that we’re doing a bad job. Crazy, isn’t it?

This year, let’s all resolve to reduce mom guilt by making solid parenting resolutions and putting systems in place to stick to them. Ready to feel like a rock-star mama in 2019? Here’s how…

Resolution 1: Be present

Commit to becoming a more mindful parent in 2019. Start by reducing distractions: lock your phone in a drawer until your kids are at school, check emails only at specific times and set your to-do list aside until they’re in bed. Give each one of your children your undivided attention for at least 10 minutes a day. Look them in the eye when they speak, listen carefully to what they’re saying and respond thoughtfully.

How to make it stick: Mindfulness meditation can help you learn to quiet the noise in your mind and focus on the present moment. All you need is 10 minutes a day with an app such as Calm or Headspace.

Resolution 2: Cut down on screen time

You knew this one was coming, didn’t you? Studies have found that too much screen time reduces brain connectivity in children and that smartphone addiction creates an imbalance in the brain chemistry of teens. Resolve to reduce your family’s screen time by a certain percentage this year – say, 20 percent.

How to make it stick: Post the daily screen-time limit on the fridge along with a list of alternative activities such as reading, playing a board game or walking the dog. When the daily limit has been reached, everyone (including you!) must place their devices in a central location and take turns picking a different activity for the family.

Resolution 3: Reduce yelling

We all yell at our kids sometimes, but we know deep down that it isn’t a positive parenting practice. Learn to interrupt the yelling cycle by using techniques such as S.T.O.P.: Say it out loud (“I’m feeling frustrated” rather than blaming statements), Turn around (away from your kids), Observe the situation (take some deep breaths and decide how to turn it around), and Praise (yourself for breaking the cycle). For more expert tips, read How to control your temper as a parent.

How to make it stick: Write the S.T.O.P. steps on a piece of paper and stick it to your fridge as a constant reminder.

Resolution 4: Focus on the positives

Research shows that the brain tends to recall negative events more accurately than positive ones. Although you can’t avoid reprimanding your children, you can balance it out by creating two positive interactions for every negative one. Positive exchanges can include a simple smile, hugs and kisses, praise for a job well done, reading a book together and going out for ice cream.

How to make it stick: At the end of each day, give yourself a rating from 1 to 10 on how well you think you balanced your interactions and write it down so that you can track your progress.

Resolution 5: Improve your routines

Most parents love routines because they create structure and predictability for the family. But we sometimes become so attached to our routines that we don’t notice when they’re no longer working for us. If you find yourself constantly harping at your kids to perform basic tasks, try creating a series of “when-then” routines. For example, when you’ve gotten dressed and brushed your teeth, then you can play with your toys before school. When you’ve done your homework, then you can go outside and play.

How to make it stick: Introduce a routine chart for each child’s daily tasks (make bed, get dressed, brush teeth, clear table, tidy toys, etc.) and display it where they can easily see it. You can then use it as visual support for your “when-then” routines by saying, “When you’ve ticked these boxes, then you can jump on the trampoline.”

Resolution 6: Lighten your load

Are you constantly running from one activity to the next and barking at your kids to hurry up? You’re not alone. We live in an overscheduled world where busyness is highly valued because we equate it with success. But as Australian psychologist and parent educator Steve Biddulph wrote in his book Raising Girls, “Our babies are Stone Age babies, and modern madness does not serve them well.”

Resolve to schedule fewer after-school activities and social engagements this year. Drop the PTA if it’s too much. No one will judge you if you say you’re not baking cookies for the bake sale because you want to spend more quality time with your kids.

How to make it stick: Drop one small task from your to-do list each day – even if it’s just neglecting the pile of laundry that needs to be folded to hang out with your kids.

Resolution 7: Practice self-care

You’ll be a calmer and happier parent if you take care of yourself by getting enough sleep, exercise, healthy food and downtime. Write out a self-care plan that’s both realistic and effective when it comes to keeping you happy and sane. It might be three yoga sessions, two coffee dates with friends and only two candy bars per week.

How to make it stick: At the beginning of each week, schedule your self-care activities and put them in your calendar. Set reminders for each morning so that you don’t have any excuses to skip them.

Resolution 8: Be healthier

Your whole family will benefit from eating a healthier diet and getting more exercise. Ask each family member to nominate one healthy meal and one physical activity they enjoy. Create a schedule of meals and active outings for the week, such as Monday: Walk the dog/Chicken stir fry. Tuesday: Swimming/Vegetarian lasagna. You’re allowed two cheat meals and two rest days per week

How to make it stick: Post the weekly schedule on the fridge and impose penalties ($1 paid into a jar or a tickle session) for those who don’t stick to it.