There are a million different names for them: resolutions, goals, a chance to change, challenges, mantras.
This year, I’m taking a break from them all. And that’s OK.
After the last quarter of 2022 of trying to find the perfect costumes, gifts, recipes, attractions and meeting extraordinarily high expectations, I need a serious break… from everything. And let’s be honest, we all know that break isn’t coming unless it’s in breakdown form.
So why on earth would I pile on a list, or even just one new thing that I have to fight to find the time to be successful at, especially when the likely outcome is failure?
As a mom, we carry such a profound weight of invisible valuables: the secret worries all our families hold, the heaviness of not knowing if you’re parenting correctly, appointments, meal planning, marital work and/or problems, finances and so much more. Why on earth would I add more?
I don’t know about you, but expectations I place on myself are additionally difficult because I can be really hard on myself. If you’re in a mental space similar to mine, please do yourself a kindness and don’t set specific expectations to meet as we begin this new year.
Parenting, right now, is especially difficult, in my opinion. We have just barely dragged ourselves out of a global pandemic. We have to make decisions about screen time. We know more about pediatric mental health and causes and treatments. We are more aware of developmental issues and causes and treatments. We have the internet, which can either be our best friend or worst enemy. And at least one person in the house is sick from October through March just to add a little cherry on top. Am I right?
And those are just a few of the things we have to worry about. We limped across the finish lines of the 2021 and 2022 years bruised and broken. I know I can’t be the only one who is exhausted, barely making it through each day as if I’ve been in crisis mode for years… oh wait, I have!
As someone with a degree in mental health counseling, I find the whole idea of adding weight on top of an already unstable foundation to be the very opposite of growth, or whatever it is resolutions are meant to deliver.
So this is the proposition I have given myself and maybe it can benefit you as well. Instead of making a resolution I plan on making progress. That’s it. It’s that simple. I plan to take one day at a time and work on the things that are already in front of me. Most of us can already think of at least 5 or maybe 25 things we could do better with holding… or letting go.
Instead of some contrived and half-hearted “add-on” in my life, I can work each day to do better with what is already on my plate. Those opportunities are there to take advantage of and I know if I make the effort, at least a few of my must-do’s will improve.
I’m offering a different perspective for a problem that comes around each year. There’s zero pressure, because there are zero set goals or rules.
As a mom, each day comes with a myriad of problems from minute and easily managed to ongoing and complex.
Each day I can take steps to progress in all of the main areas of my life.
I can be more mindful to work on understanding the gentle parenting approach I’m working on developing with my kids.
I can make a point to set aside at least a few minutes to talk with my husband (away from children’s prying ears) about how we are doing both as a couple and individually.
I can try to set aside some time each week to make sure we are on target for our monthly budget.
I can make sure the laundry in the dryer actually gets folded. Wait, who am I kidding? That one is just downright unrealistic.
The point is, because there are no set rules, I can be joyful in my successes and when it comes to failures, well, there’s always tomorrow to try to tackle.
Whether you’re a big picture or small picture person, (which moms kind of have to be a bit of both) this is an easy approach to making progress in your life without trying to create big waves of change. We have enough change from day to day and week to week. We have enough on our plates. We have all the tabs open, literally and metaphorically. We have the odds stacked against us. We don’t need to bet against ourselves.
Take it from a clinically depressed and anxious, realist and hopeful, trained therapist: I suggest progress. I suggest trying.
Because, although it may sound childlike, there are stages in life where that’s just the best we can do.
And if this transparent smattering of unsolicited advice and personal confessions isn’t obvious enough, you are absolutely not alone.
Solidarity, mamas. And I’m wishing you the most joyful of years to you all.