Every year at about this time, people around the world make a new year’s resolution. Very often it focuses on bodily health, a reading list, or achieving some otherwise lofty goal. Rarely though, do we hear about parenting resolutions.
The benefits of making a parenting resolution should be obvious to anyone with a child because every mother and father knows that their lives as parents could be improved.
Now, wanting to make a parenting resolution does by no means communicate that your parenting journey so far has been horrible; maybe it has been, maybe not. The point is that no matter how we feel things are going with our kids, it is always a good idea to step back once in a while, get some distance, and see that which we may not have been seeing because our noses were too close.
No matter how we feel things are going with our kids, it is always a good idea to step back once in a while, get some distance, and see that which we may not have been seeing because our noses were too close.
If done with a little objectivity and the right support, you might find that your resolution brings about some positive results; maybe it'll be more friendly and frequent conversations with your teens; maybe the bedtime battles will lose their edge and you'll emerge nightly with fewer and fewer scars; maybe you'll even find – if you select the parenting resolution that's right for you – that far from being a chaotic and desperate journey for the family bearing your name, the voyage in the year 2021 has all of the overtones of an adventure.
Wouldn’t that be something!
The possibilities are seemingly endless, but if you're feeling stumped when it comes to ideas, here's a list of the top 10 parenting resolutions that I think would help any family take things to the next level and help transform your parenting journey in 2021.
These resolutions may not be articulated in a way that apply perfectly to your unique family and parenting style, so if you need to tweak them for a better fit, by all means, do! My hope is that somewhere amidst these suggestions, you'll find at least one new habit worth locking in.
And of course, Happy New Year!
Let's dive in!
10. Create a bedtime routine that works.
Bedtime happens every evening. There is no changing it or avoiding it. And yet, I am constantly surprised by how many parents prefer to wing it ... over and over and over again. If that works for you then wonderful, skip this resolution, but for all of you out there that are left feeling exhausted from battling your kid to bed every night, then it's probably fair to say that something's got to change.
Resolution: I will create a realistic bedtime routine for each of my kids and stick with it this year.
9. Get to appointments on time.
Yes, I know you (the responsible adult) can probably get to your appointments on time, but things look very different when we have to get one, two or (in our case) nine children out the door to any activity or appointment. But as you know, it is not just about getting there on time either. It's also about showing up and presenting yourself and your family in the way that you want to. Does little Billy have food dried to his cheeks? Is little Samantha wearing only one shoe, and how on earth did you not notice that your five year old brought the cat? If this sounds anything like you, perhaps this should be your parenting resolution for 2021.
Resolution: I will be prepared and organized for scheduled outings in advance.
8. Pick one room and keep it clean all of the time.
You don’t have to keep a clean house all the time if you have children. In fact, the only people I have met who think so either don’t have kids or have forgotten their child-rearing years altogether. So let’s throw that idea out the window along with the worms your child dug up in the backyard and brought in unnoticed.
What we can do though is focus on keeping just one room clean all of the time. If you had one room – just one room that no one was allowed to make a mess in – it could quite possibly be your little space of sanity. A place where life makes sense and you don’t ever have to worry about stepping on used bandaids or a lego block.
Resolution: I will pick one room in the house and keep it clean all of the time.
7. Create a workout routine that works (even if you have little kids)
Every parent I know has at one point or another used their kids as the excuse for why they can’t stay fit – whatever "fit" means to them. Let's change that this year. Dance, stretch, lift, walk, or cycle, it really doesn’t matter what you do. Just find what works for you and get started. This year, join that growing movement of parents who want to get healthy while still being present to their kids.
Resolution: I will find a fitness routine that works for me and my family.
6. Create some house rules.
Have you ever wondered how that family you know seems to be so in-step with one another? Well, the answer is surprisingly simple: they have implemented what we, here at Me & My House, call House Rules.
These are rules that apply to every member of the family, from the oldest to the youngest, parents and children alike. These rules are the habits that help to define the family culture and identify just what it is that makes this particular family unique.
Resolution: I will pick one, maybe two house rules that will help my family in 2021.
5. Connect with other people who your kids can look up to.
You are awesome, I have no doubt about that, but kids need to know that the world is bigger than mom and dad. So get them on the phone with their God-parents. Encourage them to become pen pals with mature and like-minded kids from other families you know. Schedule some time for them with their Grandma or Grandpa. These people matter in the life of your child, and if you can resolve to make their mutual contact frequent in 2021, you will only reap the benefits in the years to come.
Resolution: I will help my children connect and grow in relationships with others outside our household.
4. Get a hold of that screen time.
The amount of time that our kids (and maybe even we) now spend on various devices no doubt has exceeded what you had originally envisioned for your family life. But working from home, erratic school hours, and just an all around Covid influence have made that phone or tablet your best friend. No judgment here of course, but perhaps a mighty and important resolution this year might be to get a hold of that screen time.
Resolution: I will limit screen time in my home and help my kids find suitable and age-appropriate replacements for their leisure time.
3. Have conversations that matter.
With the rise of technology and its use in entertainment, families speak with each other less and less than in previous generations. But the goal is not just to talk; the goal is to have meaningful conversations where interesting questions are asked, opinions are sought, and even arguments can find fruitful expression.
If you can facilitate these kinds of conversations in your home then this new year is not just going to bring in new experiences but a whole new way of living together as a family.
Resolution: I will engage in meaningful conversations with my children.
2. Read the Bible together.
Yes, it’s quite a big book, but every family I know who has taken the time to read the Gospels together has cited this activity as the most important for bringing about unity and a common way of seeing the world. All it takes is one paragraph from the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, or John followed by a question from mom and dad, something as simple as: What do you think this means? A year of this, once or twice a week, and you'll be reaping the great fruits this bears for months' to come.
Resolution: We will read the Bible as a family _____ time(s) a week.
1. Pray & Evangelize together as a family.
Alright, so you have a regular habit of praying with your kids, but have you ever thought about including an element of evangelization into the mix? It's simple. Over the next year, every prayer, every pious action you do with your kids, ensure that one of its aims is to evangelize a person in the life of your child. We don't just want to pray for other people that they feel better, but that they also better know Jesus Christ. We don’t just pray for someone to find employment, but to find work where others can influence him or her to seriously consider a life of faith. Spend your year praying and evangelizing with your children so that in 2022 you can boast that our Lord has brought another soul home, and that you along with your kids, had a hand in making it happen.
Resolution: I will add an "evangelization" element to our family prayer and service.
Do you have any parenting resolutions you'd like to share? Be sure to comment!
Patrick Sullivan is a Catholic Speaker and the President of Evango, a Catholic Media Organization that seeks to build a culture of Catholic evangelization and missionary discipleship. Patrick travels internationally to speak at Catholic events, parenting conferences, and to lead retreats and parish renewal missions. He is the creator and host of Me & My House, the Catholic parenting program that is transforming how we minister to parents in our dioceses, parishes, and communities. Patrick lives in beautiful Barry’s Bay, Ontario with his loving wife, Kyla, and their nine children.