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Experts Weigh in on 6 Common New Year’s Parenting Resolutions (And How to Make Them Happen!)

It’s a new year, and people everywhere are looking forward to the clean slate that lies ahead. If you’re anything like me, it’s a time of reflection and goal-setting.

Before I had children it was the time of year I’d vow to learn to mix a perfect martini or to finally run a 5k.

Since becoming a mother, though,  my new year’s resolutions have been less frivolous and more focused on being a better parent, and I know I’m not alone. As good as all this goal-setting sounds, sometimes it can be difficult to know how to make those changes happen.

I’ve asked 3 parenting experts, Josh Klapow, Clinical Psychologist and Professor of Public Health,  Stephanie Newman, Clinical Psychologist and author of Mad Men on the Couch, and Amy Morin, LCSW and the discipline expert for about.com to weigh in on 6 common new year’s parenting resolutions and how to be successful implementing them.

Have a resolution to share? Include it in the comments!

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  • Be More Present 1 of 6
    Be More Present
    "If parents want to be more present, they should set some action steps about how to go about doing that. For example, a parent may decide to turn off their cell phone for 30 minutes each evening and play with the children. Turning off the television and any other electronic devices can also help. For parents who struggle to be mentally present due to worrying about all the other things they should be doing instead of playing, writing out a short to-do list prior to playing with the kids can help them to get their thoughts organized so they can focus more on being present with the kids rather than trying to remind themselves to pay a bill or return a phone call as soon as they're done. For parents who want to be more physically present with kids, it can be helpful to set a schedule each week and actually schedule in time with your kids. Treat your kids like they are the most important appointment of the day and it will make sure that time with them is a priority. "
    Amy Morin, LCSW
  • Have More Fun 2 of 6
    Have More Fun
    "Parents can set small goals for what they can do to be more fun. For some parents this might mean spending 15 minutes playing with the kids each day and doing whatever the kids want during that time, even if it means playing dress up or dancing around the house. Creating a weekly goal can be helpful too, such as deciding to do one fun child-centered activity on the weekend. For parents who want to build more fun into their daily lives with the kids, it can be helpful to develop a mantra to remind them to relax. For example, repeating, "The dirty dishes in the sink aren't as important as hearing the kids laugh," can help keep things in perspective. It can also be helpful to look at the long-term and decide what is most important. For example, if you allow the kids to make a mess by building a fort in the living room, they'll likely build fond memories so sometimes it's worth tolerating a messy house or risking a scratch on the walls. "
    Amy Morin, LCSW
  • Spend More One-on-One Time Together 3 of 6
    Spend More One-on-One Time Together
    "Use the kids' schedules and body clocks as your guidelines. If one has a quiz every Friday, plan on alone time with the other every Thursday night during study hours. And let circadian rhythms rule. If one is an early riser, go with it. But make the goal reasonable."

    "Embrace the morning. The early morning hours may not be your favorite ones, but they are the time when everyone is freshest and most patient. So carpe diem. Make use of your pre teen daughter's refusal to get out of bed: set your alarm to go off 15 minutes earlier in the morning. While sleeping beauty is out of the picture, savor the moment. instead of fighting with or trying every 5 minutes to wake her, enjoy 15 minutes alone with your younger child. Don't rush. Read a story. Or share a special breakfast (oatmeal with chocolate chips, or hot cocoa, perhaps). When your pre teen finds out what she is missing, she might even wake up earlier the next time. And you won't have to drag her out of bed, cutting down on am tension in the house."
    Stephanie Newman, Ph.D.
  • Be Grateful for the Family We Have 4 of 6
    Be Grateful for the Family We Have
    "Make time for reflection. Everyone is so rushed and busy, running from place to place, there is little time to sleep or eat sitting down--let alone think about weighty things. Set aside a few minutes each day to sit quietly alone and take stock. After the deadly hurricanes and tragic massacres of last fall we owe it to ourselves to appreciate what we have, the family we have. Thinking for a few moments about small blessings during a brief moment of down time keeps gratitude front and center. And if done on a regular basis, grateful musings become a habit. "

    "Keeping a copy of Munch's Scream handy as a reminder ("and I think i've got Problems? Look at him!"), and walking off for a "Calgon" moment, are other tactics that put the humor back when stress (and self pity) mounts. Laughing at the bickering, the spill, etc puts distance between you and the stress and slows you to remember what is truly important: appreciating the family you have. "
    Stephanie Newman, Ph.D.
  • Learn Not to Sweat the Small Stuff 5 of 6
    Learn Not to Sweat the Small Stuff
    "No matter how hard you try, you will not parent correctly every day. Your mantra needs to be "doing the right actions more days than not". Your time frame for success needs to change as well. Instead of looking at the month, or the week, look at the day or even the hour (if you have young ones). How did things go this morning? Did I do well? Did my child do well? Children are resilient- you will make mistakes and so will they- you need to resolve to parent well more days than not and understand that the small stuff will occur. Resolve to parent hard every day- regardless of how much "small stuff" comes up. "

    "As a general rule- for any change you resolve to make- keep SMART in mind: Set reachable and specific goals, Monitor your actions and successes, Arrange your world so that you can succeed vs. fail, Recruit support from others around you, Treat yourself often if you have done well. These actions will help you stick with any new year's resolution. "
    Josh Klapow, Ph.D.
  • Stop Seeking 6 of 6
    Stop Seeking
    "One of the most important things about setting new year's resolutions is that they be specific and reachable. 'Stop seeking perfection' is by definition vague and impossible. Changing the idea of seeking perfection into actionable goals like- increase the amount of time I spend with my children, decrease the number of times I yell at them etc.- sets you up for success."
    Josh Klapow, Ph.D.

 

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