By Andrew Knott of Explorations of Ambiguity
It’s that time of year again: the end part. And you know what that means. It’s time to make a list of all the changes you are going to make to improve your life in the new year because that is not at all arbitrary.
Let’s face it, if you have kids, you can definitely be doing a much better job parenting. Much, much better. Nothing personal. I’m just keeping it real. Keeping that fact in mind, here are a few parenting-related resolutions you can make right now…and break early on the morning of January 1st.
1. Cherish every moment
Ah, yes, a time-honored piece of advice from grizzled parenting veterans who have forgotten what it’s like to be bossed around by a 3-year-old all day. Remember, these moments are precious and fleeting. And by these moments, I mean when your children are fighting over the shape of their cereal bowls at 7 a.m. So precious!
This year, though, you’re really going to start cherishing. You’re going to cherish so hard! Until, that is, one of your children wakes up vomiting on New Year’s Day at 3:30 a.m. At that point, your hungover self will start fantasizing about putting your children to bed the next night and the few precious minutes you will then have to sit by yourself and think about how dark the universe must be.
2. Put down the phone
Seriously, enough! This year you are going to be more present in your children’s lives. No more scrolling idly through Facebook when you could be playing with your kids.
This seems like a great plan, until you are playing a board game with your 5-year-old early in the morning on January 1st and he suddenly institutes a rule change that prohibits you from touching any part of the game or participating in any way. In that moment, the little box of horrors that is your iPhone beckons you from your pocket where you have to keep it “in case of emergency.” You just can’t resist the urge to upload the most up-to-date outrage straight into your brain. Ah, well, you tried.
3. Improve your child’s diet
Few things cause you as much anxiety as your children’s eating habits. Watching them survive on goldfish crackers and cookies for days at a time makes you physically queasy. This is the year you’re going to make some changes and get things headed in the right direction. You’re going to make weekly meal plans, go grocery shopping on Sunday, and prepare healthy meals complete with plenty of protein and vegetables. Unfortunately, you forgot to get groceries and now the grocery store is closed for the holiday. But you know what is open? Dunkin Donuts.
Now that things are spiraling out of control again, it’s probably better to put this whole thing off until at least next Monday (not this one, the next one). It’s best to make big life changes on Mondays anyway. And when that doesn’t work out, because let’s be honest, your kids won’t eat anything you cook and you only have so much patience, there’s always next year!
4. Don’t get frustrated
Come on. What is there to be frustrated about? More cherishing, less frustration. That is the plan! Oh, what’s that? Your child just sat down outside on the ground, legs outstretched, and started slowly shoveling dirt with his hands, covering his legs and feet? And then, when you told him to stop, he paused for a moment, looked deep into your eyes while considering his next move, and resumed slowly and deliberately raking the dirt with his fingers onto his shins, never breaking eye contact, as if to say, “What now?”
It’s okay. Take a deep breath and repeat the mantra “nothing matters” until the frustration starts to fade. It won’t actually fade, but at least you’re thinking about happier things now, like how nothing matters.
5. Set aside more time for yourself
Yes! You work hard and deserve some time to yourself! Wait, except you’re already supposed to be cherishing every moment with your kids and you already failed at that. Better scratch this one and just move on.
6. Cut down on your kids’ screen time
A-freakin-men. Screens are poisoning your children, turning them into technological slaves! However, counterpoint, they do allow you to carve out a little time to empty the dishwasher and put the dirty clothes in the washing machine. And those are two of your favorite hobbies! Hey, it’s only 9:30 in the morning, but can it really hurt to turn on Disney Junior for the next three or four hours? It’s really impossible to say. Just turn on the television. You know it’s what you want to do.
About the Author
Andrew is a writer from Orlando, Florida. His work has appeared in McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, The Higgs Weldon, RAZED, Queen Mob’s Teahouse, Defenestration Magazine, Scary Mommy, Flash Fiction Magazine, and Paste Magazine. He also writes on his website, Explorations of Ambiguity, and you can follow him on Twitter and Facebook. His first book, Fatherhood: Dispatches From the Early Years, is available now.