With 2020 just around the corner it means that all around you are the articles about creating a ‘new you’ – be thinner, healthier, calmer, happier, better. Everywhere is telling you it’s time for your 2020 resolutions – but how can you make this be something positive?
As a parent you are already striving for so many ‘shoulds‘ that are put upon us by society. Whilst we all want the best for ourselves and our families, these pressures can add to already full lives, and take a damaging toll on our mental health.
It’s very easy to get into the mindset of new year, new start and make lots of resolutions about what will be different this year. But how many of your resolutions have stuck past the first month?
There are lots of articles out there about making resolutions, but some of the most interesting are about the psychology of making new habits – and much of what is common practice when making resolutions does not tie up with the science!
Contrary to popular belief it’s actually pretty easy to change your habits. However the bigger and more consuming the habit is, the longer it may take to change and the more small steps you may need to take to get there.
Many resolutions are things like ‘This year I will lose 2 dress sizes’ or ‘This year I will blog twice a week all year’ or other large changes to your life or routine. And whilst you might complete those out of sheer bloodymindedness (yay!), chances are that you won’t.
The science will say that to complete these changes you need to break them into much smaller goals, with actions you can take to cement the habit. For instance if you are aiming to eat more mindfully then perhaps instead of ‘This year I will eat healthily’ it could become ‘Each week I will eat one meal cooked from scratch’ or ‘Each day I will eat 2 different fruits’ – things which are small changes, which you can attach an action to, and over time become habits. The key to these is to be realistic too. If you currently don’t eat any fruit because you don’t like it it perhaps isn’t realistic to start eating 5 a day immediately!
Remember as well that you are making resolutions about what you want to change – not what you think you ‘should’ change!
Making Resolutions As A Parent
When you are a parent there is often a lot about your life that you might want to do ‘better’ or feel you ‘should’ change. Parents are often some of the most aware of how they live their lives and the impact on those around them. It can be easy to look at your life and want to make resolutions like ‘I won’t shout at my kids anymore’.
But remember that you are a person caring for other people. Your small people rely on you day in and day out, and making changes to your life also means changes to their lives. Adding pressure to your life can add pressure to theirs too.
Give yourself the opportunity to think about what is realistic for you and your family. If you want to exercise more, do you need childcare? Are there alternatives which mean you don’t? Give yourself the opportunity to see how you can make positive changes for you all together.
Making Positive Resolutions
In 2018 I made two resolutions. I told myself I would make major changes in two significant parts of my life. Perhaps unsurprisingly (perhaps – ha) neither of these became reality.
There are two glaring issues with where my head was at that year. I fell into two traps – I made large resolutions and ones I could not control the outcome of.
The ‘failures’ I felt at the end of 2018 around my resolutions led me on a really interesting journey that I am still on – I am embracing a different way of looking at myself and slowly changing my habits in small steps. I am taking control of my choices and seeing where that leads us rather than assuming something will just happen. But all of what I have learned means that I am looking at resolutions in a very different way.
In 2019 my resolutions were for positive changes, which were small and which I had full control over. This year I have made those changes. I have slowly and gradually met small incremental goals which I celebrated, and then set myself new ones.
Too often we make resolutions which actually take more of a toll on our mental health when we ‘fail’, so this year why not embrace making smaller goals to give yourself that buoyant feeling of success. And then make yourself another small goal, and keep it going. It doesn’t need to be new year to make small positive changes.
Resolutions don’t have to be about something you will change.
Resolutions could be a list of family activities you would like to do this year. You could make list of places to visit. Plan travels to see a list of people. Think of a list of books to read, music to listen to, or anything you can think of. Perhaps choose a word to live by for the year.
There are no ‘shoulds’. You can choose to make this new year about anything. Go ahead and make your new year a positive one.