I'm not one for New Year's resolutions. I seem to have a strong sense of “counterwill” that will readily throw a fist in the air and cry, “You can't make me do it!” even when I'm the one who chose the resolution in the first place. It's been decades since I sat down with pen and paper — or in this case a laptop — and jotted out details of personal commitment for the coming 12 months.
And since, despite interpretations of the Mayan calendar, 2012 wasn't the last year of the Earth's existence, now is as good a time as any to perhaps break my own rule about “no resolutions” and… well, make some.
Perhaps the difference this time around is there will be no resolutions that read along the lines of “I will not eat after 8 p.m.” or “I will exercise for at least 30 minutes every day.” Though these may be lofty and good goals, I want to focus on stretching my consciousness as a parent. I want to become more mindful, more present and more in touch with what is going on for my children. I suspect with this sort of exercise the rest will follow quite naturally as we all feel more whole, listened to and understood.
1. Be gentle with myself when I lose patience or feel the need to control. I resolve to acknowledge these emotions, to notice them, but not give them power over me. Feelings of frustration do not need to be met with validation and action. I will allow awareness to trigger compassion.
2. Find compassion and empathy for myself and my child when her demands are more than I want to deal with. I resolve to be present and meet my child's needs with my heart, not my head. When she cries, I resolve to soothe; when she tantrums, I resolve to understand.
3. Talk less in heightened situations. Education theorist Robert Havighurst coined the term “teachable moment” in the 1950s, but the buzz word has peaked as of late and spilled over from the classroom into the home. Today many parents feel the need to capitalize on every given situation to explain, analyze and correct possible future infractions. However, we've forgotten that the timing must be right for a moment to be teachable — and that is never when emotion is high.
4. Keep things simple. Many parents struggle with different realms of family life that get out of hand whether it's busy schedules, too little rhythm and routine, or too much adult influence — from conversation to media and screens. For me it's our environment; we have too much stuff and our space is cluttered. This year I resolve to continue to simplify our space and not bring anything new into the home that isn't consumable.
5. Find the fun. I will welcome joy in my life. I will embrace the youthful exuberance of my children, experience more laughter, and live into the small, precious moments that they bring to each day.
Whether you choose to make resolutions this year or not, I hope you find inspiration in the idea of parenting with consciousness and experience 2013 with enthusiasm, joy and heartfelt connection.
Kirsten Andrews is offering a seven-session Simplicity Parenting course beginning on Feb. 2. For information visit www.SeaToSkySimplicityParenting.com, like Sea to Sky Simplicity Parenting on Facebook or email email@example.com.