Every January, when high school started back after Christmas break, the talk at the lunch table was about New Year's Resolutions. The party crowd vowed to party more, the studious ones pledged to make even higher grades, and I remember feeling ever-so-crafty when I'd chime in with, "I resolve to not make a resolution." So poetic, huh?
Fifteen years and four kids later, I've changed my tune (and dropped that dorky catchphrase). As an adult -- and as a mom -- I really look forward to making New Year's Resolutions. January 1 is the grown-up version of the first day of school: a clean slate. A time to pause and think about the wife and mom and woman I want to be, a time to check my compass to make sure I'm headed in the right direction.
If you're looking for something beyond the typical "drop 10 pounds" or "exercise more often" resolutions, here are 10 resolutions for moms that I think are worth making. See if you agree.
1. Resolve to wake up 45 minutes (or an hour?) before your kids do. Shower. Make the coffee. Read something encouraging. Let yourself fully wake up before the day comes at you. You wouldn't sprint into a business meeting after everyone else was seated and flop into your conference room chair all disheveled and disorganized, so why would you wake up at the same time as your kids?
2. Read out loud to your kids at bedtime, even if they're able to read alone. Pick a classic and read a chapter a night or have some fun and pull out the nursery rhymes, which I fear are totally going by the wayside in exchange for modern-day fiction like "Captain Underpants."
3. Give up your cell phone when your kids are in the car. Be fully available to them, even if that means you're just sitting there in silence.
4. Don't buy food you don't want your kids to eat. If it causes a battle, makes them beg, or causes them to act like circus clowns, leave it on the grocery store shelf.
5. Resolve to give your children the gift of (eventual) self-sufficiency by teaching them how to help around the house. Be warned: they will mess up. Broken dishes are a sure-thing when they learn to load the dishwasher. Half-washed, streaked windows will be the norm for a while when they first tackle window washing. It's OK. Be glad they're learning. I try to remember that we're here to grow them into independent adults, and part of this is teaching them how to do basic household chores.
6. Give up one website that sucks your time and adds nothing to your brain. For me, there are two: People.com and Tmz.com Why do I read this trash? Not proud.
7. Play music. Music is the ultimate mood enhancer: it changes my attitude, my behavior, and that of everyone under our roof. The kids will craft, study, sing, and even just lay on the floor and daydream when I turn on the iPod. Resolve to fill your home with good music. Maybe I'll post some playlists. If you don't know where to start, try downloading something by "All Sons & Daughters."
8. Stand up straight. Somehow having babies and slouching came as a package deal for me.
9. Resolve to never speak ill of your husband to anyone. Not even in jest. Ever. There's no upside.
10. And finally, resolve to make a prayer schedule for your kids and family. I feel lost as a mom about 90% of the time. Am I doing this right? Am I loving them enough in the way they need to be loved? Giving them too much attention or not enough? Disciplining too much or too little? I fall into bed at the end of most days, my head spinning as I recap all of their needs -- the physical ones, plus the spiritual, emotional, and academic ones too. It's overwhelming at times.
In the New Year I'm taking on a prayer schedule for my family: each child gets an assigned day where I pray for them and their many (constantly changing) needs. All four kids are so different, and the only hope I have for keeping it all straight will come from asking God to show me exactly what their needs are, and then praying that He'd equip me with the skills I'd need to parent them in such a way. (They'll get four days, and the other three days of the week will go to my husband, our home, and our extended family.)
No matter what you resolve (even if it's resolving not to make a resolution!), may 2013 overflow with joy and blessings for you and yours. Happy New Year!