By Sonia Verma
I tend to sneer, hipster-like, at the idea of New Year's resolutions. Ostensibly, that’s because c’mon, do I need a calendar to tell me it’s time to shape up? Oh thanks, Valentine’s Day, for telling me to express some love. Oh, hey, let’s all be grateful; it’s Thanksgiving. Et cetera teenager-style rudeness.
The truth is, it's because this stuff is intimidating. Of course you can – and should – express your love year-round; ditto gratitude. But having a day that reminds you to do so isn’t a bad thing. And what’s more intuitive than trying to reset bad habits or kick off good ones at the start of a new year?
momstown Parenting expert Ann Douglas breaks it down for us beautifully: Go for progress, not perfection. Stick with it, but cut yourself some slack if you’re under stress. Be realistic; be kind.
So here are my randomly arranged resolutions for then next little while. Some are grandiose and vague, and some are just bite-sized bits of reality that will be satisfying to check off my list.
Cut Older Cub some slack. She is a fanatical, eager-to-please rule follower—think Hermione Granger or Suzie Derkins—and talks like a grownup, so when she does act out, it’s hard to remember that she’s just 4. It’s okay to take a few minutes to be silly, and it’s pretty age-appropriate to test boundaries, and she never does it in a way that’s dangerous, so I need to unclench and roll with it because oh my god, remember when I was fun?
And I need to remind myself that no one is judging my parenting over this, and if they are, they can just … well, insert your own suggestion.
Stop being scared of crafts. Seriously, nothing but dread here. Yet Older loves it, and has demonstrated time and again that all you need to do is glue stuff to other stuff and beam with infectious pride. It's time to get over myself and get gluing.
Wipe down my stovetop every night, or failing that, at breakfast. Oh sure, you laugh, you grownups with your clean housekeeping habits. But the second dinner ends, my family plunges right into the bedtime vortex, and only occasionally does a Big emerge from it with enough energy to put food back in the fridge, let alone clear and clean the kitchen. Over time, the gas stove bakes on anything that lands on it, and if you only ever scrub that beast once in a blue moon—as I do—all those tiny splatters really add up.
Fold laundry (a.k.a. abandon diamond plan) There, I said it. Our guest room bed is routinely hidden under a wrinkly mountain of washed but neglected laundry. We strategically extract undies and socks and single items of clothing as needed, and the rest of it just sits there, awaiting the next upended hamper of wrinkliness. Some day, after being steadily compacted for eons, maybe the bottom-most layer of badly fitting clothes will compress into diamonds. OR, we could just fold it.
Buckets, buckets, buckets. Put a container of some sort (we call all containers buckets) in every room, and throw all wayward toys and books into it at night. So in the morning, when we are hurtling through the eye of the before-school storm, we don’t have to dodge LEGO, stuffed penguins and Sandra Boynton. Note to self: storage ottomans have lids.
Finish things I started. Enough said.
Be less of a sheep and more of a leader.
Get Older back into swim lessons. She used to be so anxious about trying things—like playground swings—and meeting new people. Three weeks into swim lessons and she was suddenly calling for us to push her higher and higher on the swings, and walking up to new kids at the park to introduce herself.
***S.L.E.E.P. *** Younger Cub is a horrible, HORRIBLE sleeper. She wakes up every 20-60 minutes at night, no matter where she is—her crib, our bed, our laps, on the breast—and let’s just understate it and say settling back down is a challenge. This is a whole slew of posts all of itself, but we are going to solve this problem this year. And we are going to do it with kindness, to her and to us.
Money. We need to be less impulsive and more mindful of our spending. We need to plan meals better, and use our lovely chest freezer. We are planning our first big trip in …well, in two children, next winter, so we actually have a goal to save toward.
Also: Get life insurance. Make our wills. Put some $$ in the RESP.
Couple Time. Spouse and I are an excellent parenting team. But we need to find a sitter and rediscover what we sound like when we’re not texting/talking about our children and the nuts and bolts of daily life. We used to grin a lot more at each other. I should text him and ask if he remembers grinning. And while he’s at it, can he pick up some milk and where are the baby’s mittens?
Organize my work life: I’m new to momstown, and not nearly organized enough to keep track of things I should. Ask anyone who's written for us in the last month. Time to write things down, set reminders, create a filing system and take 5-15 minutes every day to take stock.
Oof, the list could go on forever. Let's boil it down to: Be kind. Be organized. Be a grownup, except when you're being a kid. Progress, not perfection.