Put aside the cliches and focus on commitments that will actually help in the new year.
Be a better dad. Have more patience. Eat less ice cream. Yada yada yada.
If the past nine months have taught us anything, it’s that the superficial doesn’t matter anymore. It’s time to cut the bs and talk about some new year’s resolutions that will actually help parents. Sure, yoga or running or occasionally getting off the couch are noble goals, but these aren’t the resolutions we need. Rather, this year we need to focus on what will really help and what’s entirely doable.
So stop trying to be perfect parents and get to work on these three resolutions.
1) Order Hello Fresh
Tired of meal planning? Tired of the same recipes in the rotation? Tired of making some form of mac ‘n cheese your kids wolf down in 5 minutes, or slaving away on an experiment they refuse to eat? If so, then you deserve a break. Ordering dinner is generally expensive and usually not the most healthful, so it’s time for something different – a meal prep kit.
The basic idea is that you choose a meal or two (or seven) per week, and a box with all the ingredients measured out arrives at your door. Not only are there some healthy and tasty meals, you no longer have to be both the sous chef and main cook. And it’s super easy and fun to do the cooking together as a family. It’s usually as simple as opening up the pre-measured packages and adding them to a pan or pot. The kids can pick the meals the week before so there’s no whining about the food. The kids get to “make dinner,” the prep and cleanup is simple, and the family gets to try something new. Win. Win. Win.
2) Commit to an Adult Treat
A glass of wine may not cut it anymore. That’s what we’ve come to. It’s time to start experimenting with other beverages. For the seasoned drinkers, you may want to skip to the next resolution. For everyone else, go on Amazon and find a cocktail shaker and beginner’s guide. Then pick a drink you want to try and go for it.
Why not, right? Not being a big drinker, it hadn’t occurred to me that I could make something good at home. Turns out, you sure can! And it can turn into a fun activity sans kids just like the meal prep deliveries are great to do as a family. Plus, you get to partake in the fruits of your labors.
3) Find a Parenting Group
When my eldest was a baby, we attended a group called Mindful Parenting. It was not a Mommy & Me group. Rather, it was a small group of parents with babies and toddlers who sat in a circle and spent the first 30 minutes silently watching the kids play (or lay there and drool). Then, we’d talk about what we saw, how we felt, and our urges to step in or not. It was remarkable to be able to reflect on my inner process while being supported by other parents doing the same.
These types of groups are out there today, even on Zoom. The grounding one gets from listening to others who are dealing with similar struggles is entirely liberating. Especially in these days of isolation, finding a parent group can change everything (and you don’t even need to drive anywhere or find a babysitter!). The Center for Reflective Communities, for one, offers Reflective Parenting groups throughout the year.
If All Else Fails, Get a Puppy
I know, I know. If you read my piece, I Can’t Even Get the COVID Puppy Right you know what can go wrong. But honestly, if it’s all unraveling, might as well throw a puppy into the mix. Or not.
The three new year’s resolutions above have two things in common: They prioritize the emotional and physical wellbeing of the parents, and they are concrete and easy to do. There’s a reason why most resolutions fail miserably. It’s because they focus on some kind of improvement we want, but don’t actually want to take the steps to accomplish. There’s no shame in that. They are also aspirational. My resolutions are about making life easier for parents in ways that feel good and don’t require a huge sacrifice.
Easy and good is exactly what we need right now. Here’s to a better 2021!