Close your eyes and imagine waking up on Jan. 1. It’s a beautiful new day, so full of promise. This is your clean slate, and this is the year you’ll stop yelling, start living and finally show the world what an amazing woman you are.
Of course, by Jan. 3, you’re cursing yourself for ever thinking this year would be different.
Let me save you some heartbreak. There are some resolutions that simply should not be made by a mom with children younger than 12 in the house. Trust me, your little people will be conspiring against your success. If you have teens, your odds are better, but I still advise proceeding with caution.
After five children and nearly 17 years of motherhood, I feel confident in saying these resolutions are destined to set you up for failure.
Losing resolution No. 1: I will follow [fill-in-the-blank] diet
Dieting is a tough enough resolution when there are only adults in the house; it’s a sure-fire way to fail when you live with kids. You might want to eat vegan or paleo or only items that begin with the letter “w,” but it’s only a matter of hours before your child begins wailing for chicken nuggets. Then, faster than I can say “told you so,” you’ll be noshing on all sorts of forbidden foods yourself.
Better resolution: Try to eat a fruit or veggie every meal. There’s no need to give up trying to eat healthier. The key is to be realistic. Rather than wiping out entire food groups, food groups your kids might think are vital to life itself, focus on adding the good stuff to your meals instead.
Losing resolution No. 2: I won’t eat fast food anymore
Here’s another food resolution that’s bound to fail. Giving up fast food is a great idea, but let’s be real. There are nights when you’ll have soccer, volleyball and piano practice all at the same time. Sure, you could have gotten up early to put a meal in the slow cooker, but you didn’t. So the drive-thru it is.
Better resolution: Be deliberate about when you eat out. Don’t expect the impossible from yourself. If you’re in a busy season of life, fast food can be a blessing. Be deliberate about when you use it. Plan on certain nights being when you eat out or have specific days when you’ll eat lunch with your co-workers rather than brown-bagging it. As a bonus, giving yourself these easy days may mean you’re more likely to stay away from the grease at other times.
Losing resolution No. 3: I will stop wearing yoga pants and dress for success
There’s a reason sweats, jeans and T-shirts are the default mom uniform. They are easy to slip on when screaming banshees invade your room at 6 a.m. and refuse to leave until you are sufficiently jarred awake and out of bed. Wearing a coordinated outfit, complete with makeup and accessories, is a nice idea — but seriously. Your 3-year-old is preparing to smear peanut butter on you by 8 a.m. so why bother?
Better resolution: Be out of your jammies by 10 a.m. Instead of getting dressed to the nines, shoot for a lower goal. Get out of your jammies and into some daytime clothes by a reasonable hour each day. If you’re really ambitious, you could even try showering.
Losing resolution No. 4: I’ll join a gym and work out before the kids wake up
Wait a moment while I stop laughing. … OK, I’m better now. I love this resolution because it’s so optimistic. But when it’s 5:30 a.m. on a cold January morning and you have to decide between your warm bed and a drive to the gym, the bed will win. Trust me.
Better resolution: Plan weekly kid activities that allow you to move. Like eating healthy, exercising is an admirable goal. Make it a goal you can reach by including your kids. Sign them up for an activity that includes a built-in opportunity for you to move. For example, maybe they could do a class at the gym that will let you work out while they’re occupied. Or schedule a weekly playdate at a park where you and a friend can lap the equipment while your kids entertain one another.
Losing resolution No. 5: I’ll keep the house clean
There is a fabulous meme that explains how cleaning with kids is like brushing your teeth while eating Oreos. Moms, you know it’s true. So why set a lofty goal you know you’ll never achieve?
Better resolution: Pick up for 5-15 minutes once a day. The super cleaners in the audience may be shaking their heads at this, but for those who are on the ground floor of housekeeping, you need to start small. Very, very small. What’s amazing about this resolution is how much you can accomplish in as little as five minutes. Set a timer and ask the whole family to help. You may be surprised.
Losing resolution No. 6: I won’t use my phone around the kids
The Internet has done a good job shaming us for neglecting our kids in favor of our phones. It seems like every day we’re reminded what awful parents we are for being hooked to a small screen when we should be hanging off our child’s every word and deed. Making a resolution to stay off your phone is understandable but ultimately not doable for many moms.
Better resolution: Store the phone in an inconvenient location at home. Don’t make a blanket resolution to never use your phone around the kids. Instead, make a resolution you have a chance of keeping. Promise yourself that when you’re home, you’ll put the phone in a low-traffic area with notifications turned off so you’re not tempted to pick it up during every lull in the day.
Losing resolution No. 7: I’ll stop yelling at the kids
What mom hasn’t made this resolution? It is (pardon the pun) the mother of all parental resolutions. No one wants to yell. It makes us feel bad. It makes our kids feel bad. And yet our children know how to poke, poke, poke until we explode. Unless you have the patience of Job, this is one resolution that’s bound to fail.
Better resolution: Make a game plan for when you do lose your temper. It’s a mistake to assume you can stop yourself from ever yelling. A better resolution is to come up with a game plan for what to do when you are about to lose your temper or you do lose your cool. Do you apologize immediately? Take a timeout? Put in a movie for the kids while you go to the other room? Pack everyone up for a change of scenery? Have a Plan A and a Plan B, so you’re not left wallowing in guilt when you have the inevitable blowup.
What do you think? Are you one of the rare moms who has made one of these resolutions and kept it? Share with us in comments below or on our Facebook page.