January 2nd is the day when all the celebration and fun of ringing in a new year has subsided and your resolutions are staring you straight in the face. As moms, we are used to goals that we don’t always accomplish. “Today, I will actually get a shower. Today, I will finish the laundry. Today, I will greet my husband with a smile and a home-cooked meal. Today, I will not be late to daycare.” It’s easy to feel like new year resolutions are just waiting in the wings, mocking you, anticipating your failure – and hence, more mom guilt – something all mothers know well.
I’m not one to admit defeat easily and just start the new year with zero resolutions, so I took some time and thought about the goals I’ve maybe had in the past but not yet accomplished. Learn a language, join a book club, earn that promotion, run a marathon – the more I thought, the longer the list grew. Then reality set in.
The only language I’ve learned since having kids is the one that uses “poop” and “peepee” on a regular basis. I talk about binkys and loveys, refer to pasta as “cheesy noodles” and the other night, I asked my husband if he had “tooted.” So, the chances of me taking up Spanish, French or even Pig Latin are slim to none. Books – I love reading and if I could ever stay awake at night, I still would. But PC (post children), I’ve read (and cried during) I’ll Love You Forever; I can recite Goodnight Moon by heart, and as we’ve progressed into chapter books and Diary of a Wimpy Kid, I feel like these characters are just additional kids who live in my neighborhood. But, if you ask me about the latest pick on The New York Times best-seller list or the last nonfiction book I read, my eyes will glaze over and I may start quoting The Rainbow Fish. A friend of mine once resolved to watch every film nominated for an Oscar before the awards show. I applauded her cultural efforts, but declined to join her. My world involves Curious George, Doc McStuffins and these days, Disney XD. I don’t mean to be negative, but I know my limits.
However, don’t think that I’m a complete Debbie Downer. Motherhood has changed a lot of things but does it mean I can’t make resolutions, improvements or set goals? H-E-double hockey sticks, no! After spending some time at the kitchen table in careful reflection (aside from the few moments I spent wiping up some unknown sticky stuff), I have my 2015 resolutions. So, here are this mom’s new year’s resolutions …
1. Be Engaged. No, this doesn’t mean “get engaged” as I have a wonderful husband who’s on the journey of parenthood with me. Rather, I mean that when I’m with my kids, I want to be with my kids. No texting on the smart phone, no checking emails or thinking about how long I have until it’s bed time. Rather, I want to experience and enjoy them, talk with them, ask questions and explore. When they have Mommy Time, I want them to have me. Now, for a reality check– will this be me 100% of the time? No. I work part time from home, so there are times when Mommy needs to be on the phone or check an email or return a call. There are also times when I need to cook dinner, do laundry or chat with my spouse. But, there are way too many times when I’m supposed to be with my kids and I’m doing everything but that. There are times when multi-tasking is key, but when you’re playing Play-Doh, swinging on the swings or taking a walk in the neighborhood, I need to be Mom, not everything else.
2. Yell Less. In a perfect world, I would be a mom who always accentuates the positive, who talks in a calm voice about making the right choices, who doesn’t lose her temper or raise her voice. Well, that ship sailed when Babies #2 and #3 entered the world, and unfortunately it’s not coming back. But, just like my kids can make better choices and use their words, so can Mommy. If my yelling was yielding positive results, I might stick with it, but all that happens is my kids melt down, start crying and then we’re another 15 minutes before I can calm anyone down and tell them what I so desperately needed to tell them. So, Mommy is going to work on temper control, knowing when to step away from a situation, count to 10 before I speak and focus on the positive instead of the negative. Yes, my voice may still shatter the rafters when my son decides to ride his scooter down the hill into the lake or my daughter unbuckles herself and climbs into the drivers’ seat. But, we’re going to save this for the big moments – not every moment.
3. Apologize More. Apologies are something I feel like we’ve been working on in my family for years. . . and years. . . and years. But in all the craziness that is our family, I’m not sure how often Mommy actually apologizes. When I lose my temper with my kids; when I blame my husband for something that was clearly not his fault but for which I desperately needed a scapegoat; when I melt down for the umpteenth time. Goodness knows, I’ve talked to my kids about how to apologize to each other, how to be sincere and mean it, and ways they can strive to not repeat the same mistakes again. After all, it’s not what we say that our children remember; it’s what we do. And this year, this Mommy’s going to start more doing and less saying.
4. Date Nights. Yeah right. It’s hard enough to find a night that we’re both available, not completely exhausted and have the money to pay the sitter as well as enjoy a non-kid dinner. So, the likelihood of scheduling more of these is not high. But, who says Date Night has to happen outside of the house? This year, I vow for us to rent more $1.00 movies from RedBox, order take-out sushi and fall asleep together on the couch. I want us to invite the neighbors over and let the kids run wild in the backyard while my husband gets to actually talk to someone else about how the Cowboys are doing and I can compare notes with another Mom friend. I want to take more advantage of days when my kids are in school and my husband is working locally and meet for lunch. Regularly-scheduled dates, nights at the opera, ballet or gallery opening are still a ways off for us. But, I can do more to spend time with my spouse – no excuses.
5. Exercise. You know, this is one resolution that is always on everyone’s list, and to be honest, having kids doesn’t and won’t give me an excuse. In fact, knowing that these little creatures are going to grow up and have kids of their own one day should get my baby-weight backside out there and inspire me to be healthy – and around longer. So, whether I do it in a gym or in my neighborhood, in my den with a DVD or with a personal trainer, even if I never wear a bikini again, I owe it to myself and my family to get and stay healthy. This year and every year.
As this new year starts, be proud that you’re a mom and know that even on your off-days, what you do is amazing and miraculous. And, despite your sleep-deprived state, the load of laundry taking over your house and the fact that you may not know the trendiest restaurant in town, never be afraid to set – and achieve – goals for yourself.
Happy 2015! ~ The Baby Pibu Team