Thursday, December 29, 2005

New Year's Resolutions For Mommies and Daddies

This year, think about yourself and your baby when you start making your New Year's Resolutions. If you are like most people, you will make the resolutions and then drop them quickly. Most people fail to carry out their resolutions through the end of January. There are a few tips that can help you, however.

First, accept that you are not going to be perfect. You cannot be a perfect partner, employee, or parent, so stop trying! Instead endeavor to be the best you can. Do not allow yourself to make resolutions that you cannot keep simply because you set your standards unreasonably high.

That said, be sure that your resolutions are concrete. For example, do not just say that you would like to spend more quality time with your baby. Instead, make it specific. You would like to engage in at least one new activity with baby every week. You can say that you would like to read two books to your baby everyday or that you would like to keep up with baby's laundry by doing it three days a week. Be very concrete. While you may have a larger goal in mind, such as that you would like to expose baby to more variety in music, make the actual goal smaller and specific so that you will be able to measure your success.

Put your goals into action quickly. While you are thinking about the plans for exposing one new type of music to baby weekly, start your research. See what the library has. Visit an independent music store. Look online for different types of music. Begin making a list of the ideas you have for new activities, whether it is introducing your baby to finger painting or building a sand castle at the park. Remember not to limit yourself because of baby's abilities. Babies learn and develop so quickly that something that seems impossible for baby this month may not be next month. Plus, you are making resolutions to change your life, so you will find some time to do the activity.

Do not be too hard on yourself, especially if baby is still on the way. You will find that your baby will slow you down. It take many moms and dads a while to adjust themselves to baby time, where a quick trip for a bite to eat can be an ordeal. If you have been good at reaching your goals in the past, just keep in mind that you will need to lower the bar a bit with baby.

Avoid making goals for the entire family. This tip applies especially to women. Too many of the women I know decide what is important for them and then try to convince everyone else in the family to join in. So while your goal may be to plant a garden or redecorate the family room, or your resolution may be to stop drinking soft drinks, be careful not to force those ideas onto everyone else. Let your family members decide for themselves what their goals will be.

Finally, be sure that you have a way to track your goals. This system can be as complex or as simple as you would like. You can keep it by percentage. For example, if your goal is to complete a first draft of a novel, and you know that the average novel is 80,000 to 100,000 words long, then use 100,000 for your benchmark. Keep a log weekly. If you have completed 18,000 words, then you are 18 percent of the way to your goal. Another idea is to post your goals and mark them off as you complete them. You also can create a notebook to keep track of how you are doing. While the annual goal may be to sell your products at 12 craft shows, you will need to know what you have to do in January, February, March, etc. Create a notebook that will help you keep track.

Also keep in mind that you do not have to make resolutions only at the new year. If you fall off the horse and then get motivated in mid-March, go for it then. The most important point is to make sure that you are setting realistic goals and that you are happy with the progress you are making.

By Julia Mercer

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