Does anyone else ever create resolutions for the new year, only to not follow up on them? I always have the best intentions on January first, but by March, my excitement has waned and those good intentions give way to the demands of day-to-day life.
Full disclosure, it’s been a few years since I made a New Year’s resolution. But with a new decade approaching, I feel motivated. I am feeling inspired to work towards building the best version of myself, but in a different way. This year, I am trying something new: I am making New Year resolutions for motherhood.
I have tried and failed at all of the classic resolutions: weight loss, journaling, daily photo challenges, drinking half of my body weight in water (turns out 110 ounces is a lot).
Why? I kept thinking perhaps it was that maybe I’m just not the type of person who keeps commitments. But that’s not true. I have trained for and completed a 5K race with a respectable time, and I loathe running. I have been in a relationship with my partner for nearly 13 years. So, commitment and follow-through clearly aren’t my issues.
I follow a few motivational speakers on social media, and one of my favorites talks a lot about setting achievable goals. One of her most common points is that if you don’t get to the root of why you want to do something, it won’t matter to you. She calls it your “big why.”
Ahha! My issue isn’t with commitment. My issue with goals is creating ones I actually care about.
So, I asked myself, what do I really care about?
I care about being a great wife and friend. I care about doing my job well and with integrity. I care about being kind. I care about making a positive difference in my community. I care about inclusion and building understanding. But most of all, I care about being an exceptional mother.
That’s right, I said it. I care about being a good mom more than anything else. Being a mom is my “big why.”
Yes, I am a career woman, but the honest truth is that I care about my family and how I treat them more than my job and more than my social life. And it feels really good to admit it so openly. That’s why this year, my New Year’s resolutions will all center around motherhood. Truly, it’s a few smaller goals that feed into my main goal for 2020: I want to be a good mom.
Now, I know you might be thinking that “good mom” is a loaded term. Being a good mom can mean a lot of things to a lot of different people.
My definition of “good mom” relates to my resolutions. For the record, I don’t believe that if you’re not doing motherhood my way, that you’re inherently doing it the wrong way, or are a bad mom. Know that I am cheering you on in whatever motherhood looks like for you, too. How each of us thrives in and approaches motherhood is as unique as we are, and I’m totally cool with that. There is no one correct or best way to parent.
My New Year’s Resolutions for Motherhood for 2020:
I will take care of myself.
Notice I didn’t use the term “self-care.” As it turns out, taking care of oneself and practicing self-care are not the same things at all. Typically when we, as a culture, talk about self-care, we mean doing extra things to make yourself feel good. When I say I will take care of myself, I am not talking about yoga classes or pedicures. I am saying that I will sleep when I need to, I will make my needs a priority, and I will work to not feel guilty about tapping out and accepting help when I need it.
This might sound simple, and like something I should not need a resolution for, but how many times as a new mom have you said, “I can’t remember the last time I showered?” How many times have you forgone attending to your own basic needs because it felt selfish? How many times have you asked someone’s permission to step out and get some exercise? Well, sister, I have news for you: taking a shower and eating a meal isn’t selfish. And I personally know that I show up better as a parent and partner when my basic needs are met. That’s why taking care of myself is one of my resolutions for motherhood going into 2020.
I will tell my children that I love them, every day.
Growing up, my parents used to tell each other, “I love you today.” This phrase seemed strange as a child. Now, in my own marriage and as a parent, I totally get what they were saying. They were reminding each other that they loved each other that day just as much the day they first met. Instead of the passive call and response of, “I love you,” and “I love you too,” it’s a way to make it more active and meaningful. As gal whose main love language is words of affirmation, “I love you today” is a phrase I’ve happily adopted in my own family.
In just a couple of months, I will go from being a mom of one to two. I will have an almost-three-year-old who is in the throes of toddlerhood and who needs a lot of love. I will also have a newborn who will need constant confirmation that they entered into a family who loves them and keeps them safe. In this time of major transition, I will work to make sure that above all else, they have a mother who loves them unconditionally, and that they know it. Because for me, sometimes those small actions and words can get forgotten in the quotidian shuffle. “I love you” gets lost somewhere between getting out the door in the morning and in the chaos of the night dinner-bath-bed sprint. And while I may feel that love, I truly believe that part of loving my kids is making sure they feel it and hear it, daily.
I will model compassion and kindness.
As the parent of a child with disabilities, one of which is a genetic condition that comes with a unique appearance, I get tons of practice modeling patience and kindness with strangers. Since my daughter was born, people often approach us and comment on the color of her hair. When you have a tantruming toddler in your arms and you’re just trying to get out of the grocery store without a level 11 meltdown, it is a real challenge to remember that these people typically mean no harm.
While it is important that my daughter be able to educate others and advocate for herself, it is also important to me that she be able to do this with kindness. Modeling kindness and compassion in these scenarios typically looks like me thanking them for what they see as a compliment. If they push or ask me questions about why she looks the way she does, I say, “She was born with a genetic condition called albinism and she doesn’t produce melanin pigment.” Typically, people don’t continue to pry at that point.
Beyond this example, it is deeply important to me that my children grow up to be kind people. I don’t care what their careers are, whether or not they get married, or if they attend college. I hope that my children will grow into adults that practice radical inclusion, and acceptance, and are compassionate to those they meet.
How do I model this with a toddler and soon to be newborn? At this stage in life, it’s through my language and actions, not just with strangers checkout line, but with them. When my toddler has yet another tantrum because we’re trying to get out the door and she, “Can zip her coat all by herself!” I take a breath, and remember, she’s not trying to make us late or make me upset. She’s learning. She’s growing. And right now, she needs me to be patient and kind. And so, one of my resolutions for motherhood in 2020 is to model the compassion and kindness I want to pass on to my girls.
I will put down my darn phone.
I recently have been tracking my screen time through an app on my phone, and it’s opened my eyes to just how much time I spend on the thing. I do use my phone to check emails for work, but largely, I spend my time on social networking apps. We’re talking out of the average six hours (yikes!) I spend with my phone active each day, ⅔ of that is social networking (double yikes!)
Through some research, I have learned that the phone counts messages as social networking and that if your phone screen is on, it counts as screen time. My phone spends a lot of time sitting somewhere streaming podcasts or music. But even still, I spend about two hours per day on Facebook and Instagram alone. That’s a lot of time in the infinite scroll. And that’s a lot of time I could spend doing things that really feed my soul and matter to me, like being a mom. I can’t say that social media makes my heart sing the same way it does when my child smiles up at me. So, in the new year, I’m focusing more on in-person rather than virtual connections.
I want to be present. More and more, I notice myself going through the infinite scroll of social media, missing moments with my daughter, who is currently in that beautiful time between baby and big kid. She needs me right now, and I want to savor our moments. I have found that the times when I put down my phone and am truly present with her are more joyful. We both smile more, interact more, and have more generally positive interactions when I am present in my parenting.