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8 Simple Ways I Want to Be a Better Parent This Year

laurenh_betterparentI’ve never been super big on New Year’s resolutions, simply because they’re so easy to break, but mostly because there was never really anything that I found to be all that important that I wanted to make a resolution for. Now that I’m a parent though, I’ve finally found the one thing that inspires me to make resolutions … my children. Even though I know that it’s impossible to ever be a perfect parent, I always want to try my best to be better for them. As such, here are a few simple ways I want to be a better parent in 2015:

1. Play more

We all have our strengths as parents, but playing is not one of them. I guess I’m just not that imaginative, but I have a really hard time sitting and playing dolls, or blocks, or Play-doh, or whatever for an extended amount of time (read: more than a few minutes). Usually I play for a few minutes and then sneak off to get things done while my little ones entertain themselves. There’s nothing wrong with letting kids learn how to entertain themselves, in fact it’s a pretty important skill, but I want to be more intentional about spending quality time when them doing the things they enjoy.

2. Tidy up less

In order to make more time for playing, I plan to tidy up my house less. While playing with my kids isn’t my strength, I’m pretty great at keeping my house tidy. You could pretty much drop by at any time and our house would be ready for a playdate. I do it because I’m a bit Type A and it helps me feel less stressed out and overwhelmed in the midst of parenting chaos, but it’s gotten to the point where I’m so worried about making a mess that I’m not letting my kids enjoy their childhood. A little mess never hurt anyone and I’ve got to learn to let it go a bit.

3. Say “Why not?” more often

Being a bit Type A also means that I’m not the most spontaneous person/parent. Sometimes my daughter will suggest a trip to the park or a little lunch date and if it doesn’t fall within the parameters of my daily mental to-do list, I can be quick to dismiss the idea. This year I want to learn to say “Why not?” more often and have more fun with my kids.

4. Don’t sweat the small stuff

So many times I find myself getting frustrated with my kids for super small things. In 2015, it is my goal to step back and ask myself, “Is this really worth getting worked up over?” More often than not the answer is “no.” So as annoying as it is when my daughter spills her bowl of cereal, or when she unrolls the entire roll of toilet paper … it really isn’t the end of the world and I need to lighten up.

5. Go outside more

I’m definitely not an outdoorsy type of girl. I mean, I like the outdoors once I’m there, but it’s not something I really seek out. As a result, my kids and I often end up staying inside instead of going for walks and playing at parks and getting dirty (again, my Type A tendencies have a hard time embracing the idea of going outside to get dirty). But getting outside is important and I need to make it happen for my kids more often.

6. Let them help

As I’m making this list I’m starting to think that maybe my overall New Year’s resolution should be to chill the hell out and live a little, because this goal fits under that category as well. The idea of letting my kids help with dishes or laundry or sweeping stresses me out. The thought of someone else doing something the “wrong way” (i.e. not my way) is hard for me to accept, but how else will my littles learn? Time to let them make messes and figure things out. The sense of pride they’ll feel will far outweigh my discomfort at letting go of doing things my own way.

7. Disconnect

I’ll admit, I’m pretty addicted to technology. I have my phone on my person at almost all times … texting, checking social media, etc. Even though I work from home and do need to stay connected to a degree, more often than not that thing I’m doing on my phone isn’t very important and it’s taking away from the true quality time I could be spending with my family. It’s time to make a more concerted effort to step away from technology and just be in the moment.

8. Pay attention

So often I find myself just wishing it were bed time already, or next week, or a couple of years down the road when “things will be easier.” But the fact is this is my children’s childhood right now. I don’t want to miss out on this time — even though it can be super challenging — by just wishing for the next milestone. It is my most important goal this year to simply slow down and pay attention; to soak up the smell of my sweet girl when she wakes up from nap, to take inventory of her every freckle and curl, to store away in the bank of my mind the sweet giggles from my baby boy and the sweet way his eyes twinkle when he looks up at me while I nurse. These are the moments that are flying by at lighting speed and I want to be better at stopping to notice them so I don’t miss it.

Image courtesy of Lauren Hartmann

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