Now that Christmas is over thoughts have turned to New Year resolutions. While pledges around healthier eating, starting savings accounts and getting more organised seem to top the polls, the energy behind them often dwindle as the dark days of January come and go. There are some new habits that are a lot easier to maintain than enthusiasm for your new gym membership – habits that involve your mind set. Think about who you are as a parent/care giver and maybe start to think about little tweaks that you could make that would result in a happier and more confident you.
There are two major areas of worry in parenthood; the constant worry about your child, twinned with the anxiety about whether you’re doing a good job. Will that time I really lost my cool be etched on to my son’s memory forever? Am I setting the right example for my teenage daughter around diet and body image? Will my children always remember that I forgot to buy Christmas pyjamas for the Toy Show? As parents, we always seem to find a stick to beat ourselves with! What we really need to focus on, however, is what we are good at. We need to bear in mind that fact that the perfect parent is a myth. Every parent does wonderful things for and with their children, and every parent drops the ball from time to time. Not only does that make us human but it models to our children that mistakes are ok. It lets them see that perfection is a fallacy and that doing your best – being good enough – is what matters.
Changing how we think takes practice. Research tells us that a new habit takes between 21 and 60 days to really become a regular part of our lives. Start small. You might want to spend some more quality time with your child, for example, so this would involve a change to both of your routines. Maybe you could start to take a walk together two evenings a week after dinner and let it just become a part of your weekly routine from January onwards. Find yourself overwhelmed with weekly meal planning and shopping? You could include the whole family. On Saturday morning you could all decide on the ‘menu’ for the week, which includes one favourite meal for each one of you. Your children feel included and heard, and you don’t have to give so much head space to the age old ‘what will I do for dinner’ dilemma?
Let 2021 be the year where you accept and congratulate yourself for being a good enough parent… because good enough is exactly what your child needs.
Top Tips for the January Declutter
After festive fun and over-indulgence, January inevitably brings the need to restore order. Santa presents add to the every-growing clutter in the house and so the clean-out begins with gusto. A few things to bear in mind as you begin the toy cull:
- Make your child part of the process: While they generally don’t want to part with anything, teach them negotiation skills. ‘For every five things I have ready for the charity bag, you can keep two’ can work wonders.
- Distinguish between memories and ‘stuff’: Keeping the fluffy bunny that came home from the hospital with your baby is perfectly reasonable but the other 23 cuddly toys are just clutter under your 10 year-old’s bed.
- Share books: Maybe start book-swapping with neighbours, Baby and Toddler groups etc. What your child has grown out of may just be the point another small reader is reaching.
- Bring your child to the charity shop with you: Let them see where their old things are going and talk a little about why it’s important to help others where we can.
- Remember the three pile rule: One for the bin – when something is beyond repair, one for donation and one for ‘maybe’. Give your child (limited!) time to think about whether they are ready to part with a particular toy.
This article was by a member of Parenting Limerick, a network of parenting and family support organisations.