“Year’s end is neither an end nor a beginning, but a going on with all the wisdom that experience can instill in us.” -Hal Borland
This quote reminds me of a combination of the oh-so-true phrase, “Hindsight is 20/20.” and “When you know better, you do better.” (Maya Angelou). As our calenders change from 2015 to 2016, it’s technically a fresh start- but so is every morning. As parents, we definitely have days that are amazing, days that are awful…and everything in between. I take solace in the fact that a bad day eventually ends and the sun rises the next morning, offering a chance to begin anew. There isn’t really much of a tangible or visible change when we ring in the new year, aside from the excitement of a new calendar. But what we carry into our “fresh start” is the wisdom we’ve gleaned from living another year…the lessons we’ve learned, the memories we’ve made.
What we do in that space of time between the numbers from year to year is what we’ll remember years from now, as we look back on these days from the rocking chairs on our porches as we watch our grandchildren play. The passage of the years is circular, not a horizontal timeline. We grow, change and learn…every beginning comes from another beginning’s end.
Many people make “New Year’s Resolutions”- what a perfect time to start all the things you’ve been meaning to all year round! Now that the calendar has changed to a fresh, shiny new month and year, it feels appropriate to set goals and be your best self. But… the problem with that is the pressure. When winter melts into Spring and time goes on, sometimes we aren’t always able to realisticaly stick to all the big, exciting goals we’ve set for ourselves. I think I always go into a new year with intentions to journal more regularly. Then life happens and I don’t always make the time….which leads to me feeling negatively and disappointed in myself. If we can frame our resolutions into ways that realistically fit into our life, we’re able to gradually make them part of us…part of our daily routine…which is the whole point.
Here are a a few ideas to get you started. I hope to incorporate all of these into my 2016!
- Play More! What could be more important, really? Spend any chance you can playing with your children. As kids, that’s their life’s work for now. Nothing makes them happier than when you simply play with them.
- Be kind to yourself. I’m pretty sure that I’m not only speaking for myself when I say that as parents, we can be really hard on ourselves. But remember….simply NO ONE is perfect. We make mistakes…we don’t always react to people in the ways we envision in our minds. Apologize and forgive yourself.
- Be kind to others. Simply because it’s the peaceful way to live. Also because your children are watching every.move.you.make. They will learn from what we do and how we lead more than what we tell them to do.
- Ask for what you need. This is such a hard one for many parents. We really really want to do it all ourselves….and some of us don’t like to ask for help. But there’s a time in everyone’s life at some point where help is needed. You might not ask for help because you don’t want to burdon anyone. Guess what- I bet there’s at least one person you know who would be MORE than happy to give you a hand. This is especially important in regards to your partner: people can’t read minds and you can’t expect them to just know what to do or what you need (it would be nice, but doesn’t always happen). Speak up!
- Unplug at least once-a-week. Most of us spend more time than we’d like to admit looking at a screen….tv, computer, video games, phone, etc. Technology is a huge part of modern life and is everywhere. Try to make a weekly date where everyone turns off their devices for a while. A little family time can go a long way!
- Learn something new. Make the time for yourself to learn a new skill or hobby. Whether you do it solo, with your partner or friend, or with your kids, there’s no better time than the present to enrich your brain with something that interests you.
- Do anonymous good deeds. Not only is it just good karma to do things for others but it feels really great! There are a million little ways to brighten someone else’s day….and what a great way to instill kindness in our children. One of my favorite ways to make someone smile is to pay for the person behind me at the Starbucks drive through when I can.
- Have a weekly Family Game Night. Playing a game together is awesome! It’s not only fun and a great way to connect but it’s a good way to help kids learn the social skills of game playing/being fair/handling winning and losing. There are a ton of great games out there (educational too!). Some of our favorites are Trouble, Connect Four, Twister, The Sneaky Snacky Squirrel Game and Wildcraft.
- Eat Together! This is so important. If it’s feasilbe for you, family meal times really add to the strong foundation of a family. Breakfast and dinner are great times to catch up on everyone’s day…discuss plans…and simply connect. Life can be so busy but there’s something so comforting of knowing you can sit down together for at least a short time each day. This is also so important for kids to develop healthy relationships with food! Kids love to help in the kitchen too.
- Dance it out more often. There’s nothing like putting a great song on and simply letting loose. Dance alone in front of a mirror with a hairbrush microphone. Tell your kids it’s time to “dance their sillies out” and laugh until you cry. Take your partner’s hand and slow dance to your favorite song (what a great way to connect!). When we dance, we boost our oxytocin and we feel happier, more relaxed, less anxious and just BETTER. There are so many health benefits to moving your body.
…..and I have to throw a bonus one in here: when in doubt, take a bath! Incorporate more baths into your year. When your baby or child is upset, sometimes a bath is the perfect way to soothe big feelings or change up their environment. When you’re feeling stressed and want to run away to your own deserted island, find a spot of 20 minutes (or more, if you’re lucky!) and step away to your bathroom oasis (a shower can be great too!).
I wish you and your family the happiest, healthiest 2016. I hope these ideas inspire you to begin your year with intentions to live joyfully!
About the Author
Author: Melissa Powley
Melissa lives outside of Pittsburgh, PA with her husband and sons. Passionate about the inherent strength and beauty of womanhood, she seeks to develop within herself and share with others through her interests in fertility, pregnancy, birth, breastfeeding, parenting and holistic living. Melissa stays busy laughing and learning with her boys while supporting and encouraging moms, babies and families as a La Leche League leader, doula and leader of various groups and workshops through her business, The Whole Way Doula Services. She serves as Creative Marketing Manager and social media administrator for Holistic Parenting Magazine.