New Years resolutions are sometimes burdensome, but they can be the impetus for important changes that we want to focus on during the upcoming year. As parents and caregivers, the tasks on our plates can be overwhelming, but setting SMART goals (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound), can help us achieve small goals that can make a big impact in our lives and the lives of our children.
With busy schedules, what are some realistic goals to set as parents and caregivers? Not all of us have free time in our day to implement new routines, but we know that we cannot pour into others until we first fill ourselves. Starting small and SMART can feel more attainable and can make noticeable differences in how we feel.
- Drink more water. Make this attainable and specific by setting a goal, such as: I will drink eight glasses of water a day. Carry a gallon with you if you need, to reduce fill ups. The specificity of the goal helps you take tangible steps towards meeting it. And drinking water is important! More water helps oxygen flow throughout the body, increasing your energy to chase after a little one. It also helps decrease allergies, headaches, and joint aches.
- Reduce stress. Find a parent or caregiver group to join and talk to them when you’re feeling overwhelmed. Seek advice or comfort from parents of grown children, remember they won’t always be this little. Schedule downtime, even if it’s only 10-15 minutes per day. Meditate. Ask for help – schedule a babysitter (an aunt, grandparent, etc.) one day per month to have time for yourself; or utilize low or no-cost community resources that offer kids night out programs.
- Spend time outside. Sunshine and fresh air work miracles! Set a goal to visit a park or playground once a week, or plan more generally outside play this year. It will help both you and the children in your life to feel better. We live in one of the most beautiful counties in Florida! Enjoy the natural resources and sunshine.
After making sure we’re functioning the best we can, we can focus on improving our daily habits with the children we love. But what do they need the most from us? Usually, the answer is time, patience, and understanding.
- Commit to spending some time one-on-one with each of the children in your life. It doesn’t have to be every day. But planning thirty minutes once a week to focus on one child can make a huge difference in their life.
- Listen more. Once a day, choose a time to listen more to a child in your life. When you feel yourself getting ready to talk at, defend, or yell, take a breather, refocus, and listen. Listening to children helps them feel empowered and supported. It also helps them to be more aware of their feelings and more comfortable talking about them.
- Read more together. If you don’t read much with the children in your life right now, start slow. Pick a few picture books and try to read together once a week. You can read the book to them, or you can encourage them to read to you! Talk about your books, ask your child(ren) what they learned, and share them with others. Make it a fun part of your routine. Read on the bus or even while waiting in line.
This New Years Eve, we’re celebrating not only the end of a year, but the end of a decade. For some, the end of the year is a good time to reflect and make plans for the future. For others, the year may not have ended as planned, but tomorrow starts anew. What we all can do is take a moment to congratulate ourselves for the wins we’ve achieved this year. Whether you’re a new parent, grandparent, or long-term guardian, caregiver or teacher, you’ve made a difference in the life of a child, and that is something to celebrate.