Ah, the week between Christmas and New Years. It’s a strange eye of the storm lull for most people. The children are still off from school, but without the excitement of the holiday to distract them. The spouses are back to work, although nobody wants to be there or do anything.
However, the life of the Stay-At-Home parent remains just as busy as usual, if not more so. There are presents to find a home for, parties to get ready for, decorations to put away, houses to put in order, and bored children to entertain.
Still, there has to be a moment to pause and reflect, and to look ahead.
It’s been a roller coaster year, with lots of ups and downs. Our small girl , always physically bigger, but mentally and emotionally sometimes a toddler and sometimes a teenager. My parenting has not kept up. She loves me, and I love her, but we don’t always act like it. There has been more yelling and less cuddling than I would like.
I heard recently that for kids, there is no such thing as love, only loving acts. In other words, you can say you love them as much as you want, but all they know of what you feel is what you do. My doings have not matched my feelings. I resolve to change that as much as I can. So instead of my usual “Weigh less, drink less, spend less” annual resolutions, here are my parenting resolutions for 2012.
1. Yell less.
I know full well that I will not manage to stop yelling. I also know full well that yelling does nothing. I have observed in my own life that being yelled at never motivates me. It makes me resentful and angry. Why would I expect a different result in my child? I therefore resolve to watch my tone. Anger is fine, but some expressions of it are not. I taught that to my daughter at the age of 2. How can I not try to teach it to myself at 37?
2. Play more.
There are a lot of things to get done, and not all of them are fun. My daughter does grocery shopping with me, and helps clean the kitchen, and waits for me to finish writing my column. There are always more chores.
My resolution is to remember to take fun breaks. Even if our day is packed back-to-back, and stopping to play a game of UNO seems impossible, fun exists. I want to remember to take a moment to cuddle or read a few pages of her favorite book or tickle her until she can’t breathe. Even just singing a song together in the car on our way to the next chore will help set the mood I want in our lives.
3. Parent my values.
This resolution is the most important to me. My house and my family do not look like anyone else’s. Why should they? Our lives should be guided by what we believe in, and what I believe in is unique. But I bow to what I perceive as the parenting norm far more often than I want to.
For example, one of the most important things to me is that my daughter controls as much of her own life as I can allow. She with little input from me, makes her own friends, and chooses what to do with as much of her time as I can manage.
Yet, two weeks ago, I cleaned my daughter’s room. Without her permission and without her there. Ugh.
I don’t want that. I want her to have her own space. I hold the line that the main living area needs to be presentable. Also, at a certain point of room mess, her father and I won’t come in to say goodnight, and she’ll have to put herself to bed. There are consequences to her choices that I don’t want to shield her from (another of my values) but I still want her to get to make them.
And after I find a home in there for all these new toys, I totally intend to live by that… After. I mean, these resolutions don’t start till Sunday, right?
Good luck to all my readers on making, and living up to, their parenting resolutions.