New Year’s resolutions can be a tricky business. It’s always appealing to start afresh on January 1, on the heels of the busy, messy, Christmas-cookies-for-dinner-more-than-once season. But the downside of New Year’s resolutions is that when we can’t live up to our new goals, we may feel even less like we have it together.
And when you’re a parent, those goals can be easier listed than achieved. So how about we all start the new year with just a few adjustments that we can probably all manage — and that will make us feel like we’ve got it (sort of) together.
Whether you’re committing to bringing Taco Tuesday into your home or making a weekly date with yourself, these are small adjustments that will help you feel like you’re making positive progress toward decluttering your home, getting healthier or just simply feeling happier. And all of those things will help you be a better, less stressed and more relaxed parent in 2020.
1. Take a vitamin
Chances are you dole out a gummy vitamin or a probiotic (or both) to your kids every morning. Add yourself to that tiny to-do list item. They even make gummies for adults now.
2. Make a date with yourself
One of the best things you can do for yourself as a parent is to give yourself time to recharge. Allow yourself to have time each week to zone out. Read a book, take a class, go to Target or just sit in the silence of your car in the Target parking lot and scroll through your Instagram feed. Whatever feels indulgent to you, give yourself permission to enjoy.
3. Make a date with a friend
Parenting can be isolating. You’re around small people quite a lot, but finishing a full conversation can seem almost impossible. Commit to an hour every week for a walk with a friend, a coffee date or even just a FaceTime catch-up.
4. Change one cleaning product
We’re all trying to make sure our homes are healthier for our families, and cleaning products can be quite toxic. However, knowing where to start making changes toward cleaner cleaning products can be daunting. As a step in the right direction, make a single swap. A really simple one? Diluted vinegar and water instead of chemical-laden window cleaner.
5. Podcast lunch
There are times in the day when your kids probably need you to be fully focused on them. But there might be a pocket of time here and there that you can use to listen to a podcast, while they play in the yard or as you make the kids lunch.
6. Put your phone in a basket
That might sound like a ridiculous place to put your phone, but having a designated spot to put your phone can help you remember to put it in that spot and leave it be. You could even leave the ringer on, so you know if you get an emergency call, but putting it out of sight to cut down on screen time is good for your kids and good for you.
7. Commit to fresh air
It’s easy to get outside in the summertime (well, unless you live in a really hot climate), but the dark and typically cold winter months can make you and your kids go a little stir crazy indoors. Commit to simply getting outside for even a small period of time every day, for their sanity and yours. Check out our fun tips for playing in the dark in these winter evenings.
8. Take credit
How many times did you run up and down the stairs today to grab something your kids needed? How many times did you run up and down the stairs carrying a kid? Two kids? Take credit for the heavy lifting you’re doing all day long. Try tracking it with a Fitbit or another fitness tracker for added satisfaction — and maybe a little extra motivation to take those stairs two at a time.
9. Get rid of the paper clutter
Most of us have a stack of paperwork that builds up — mail that needs to be dealt with: artwork our kids bring home that we just can’t bear to throw away — creating just as much mental clutter as it does physical clutter.
On the first of every month this year, deal with those piles. File them away or simply throw them in the recycling. It feels amazing, trust me!
10. Embrace Taco Tuesday or Pizza Friday
Even if you’re not a fan of meal planning, come up with a meal that’s consistently a hit for your family, and give it a day of the week. If every other week is a last-minute dinner decision, this one day will anchor your week and you might even find it spreads to a little more meal organization as well.
Editor’s note: This article was originally published in January 2019, and updated in January 2020.