So we’ve made it through another round of holidays and another year of co-parenting (or any parenting for that matter). You should totally be high fiving yourself right now…I know I am. Some days, when the kids are fed and alive by bedtime (even if not clean), I consider it a success. If they are bathed, ate something resembling a vegetable, and didn’t look homeless when they left the house, I feel like the fucking master. I’ve learned that much of parenting is simply survival.
Now, as we move into a new year, we reflect on the past as well as look forward. My goal for you this year is not simply to survive, but to thrive. Now, I am by no means telling you to start baking your own bread, going on an all kale diet, ironing underpants, and cutting out sugar/gluten/alcohol (God forbid)/red meat or whatever else people get on kicks about to feel better. No one actually keeps all that shit up (at least not for long). I’m not saying these are bad ideas, but this is not what I mean by thriving. Here are some examples:
- Do one thing every day for you. I know, I know, but I’m a selfless parent and even if I wasn’t, where would I get the damn time? Everyone has time for what is important to them. Make yourself important to you, and make the time. You may think your priority is your kids but if you work 60+ hours per week, they aren’t. Look at how you spend the majority your time and that will tell you what you are making important and who you are making feel important (or unimportant). You are a person with feelings. Everyone in the house is happier when the person in charge is. Learning self-care is a valuable skill (and I do mean a skill to be honed) that needs to be learned by every person, but for people raising people, it is a must.
- Listen to your children. Children are people and they want to be heard too. You will be amazed at how the bullshit declines when they don’t feel like they have to be little assholes to be seen and heard.
- Learn balance. Yeah, I don’t have it either but I work on it every single day. For every task you do for your kids, do one for you, one for your spouse (if applicable), one for work, etc. Learn to put everyone on your to do list (see #1 – yes you too).
- Remember to enjoy your children. I know this may seem like a no-brainer but I see too many parents panicking over cooking/cleaning/did I remember their vitamins?/why-the-fuck-did-I-agree-to-bake-9-dozen-cookies-for-that-bitch-who-runs-the-bake-sale?/dammit he needed a purple shit for school today/I forgot to buy dog food and now I’ll have to feed the cat to the dog….the list goes on. STOP. Your children are growing up so quick that while you are freaking out, YOU ARE MISSING IT.
- Drink because you want to, not because you have to. Cultivate an environment that is filled with laughter and fun. If this sounds like I’m living in Oz then take a step back and see what needs to change so you don’t dread getting out of bed in the morning. Is it work? Quit. Is it your ex? Put up firm boundaries. Are your kids acting like dicks? Learn another form of discipline. Too busy? Learn to say “no”, and remember that just because your phone is ringing does not mean you have to answer it.
Go easy on yourself this year. People spend too much time beating up themselves and others. There is enough bullshit to go around and no one is perfect. Much of parenting is survival. This year, make it a point to thrive. That doesn’t mean work out, eat better, get more sleep, etc. Unless that’s actually what you want. Seek happiness, not perfection this year.