Establishing goals for the new year

new years

Hello All!

Many people think new year’s resolutions don’t work, and that may be the case for a lot of folks.  However, I think if we reframe our resolutions into goals for our lives, they take on far more importance.  It is easy enough to blow off a resolution a week (or less 🙂 into the new year.  If we have a goal though, it shines like a beacon in the dark to a need in our lives to change something.  Change can provide hope, and hope propels progress.  Humans seem to resist change with a certain degree of fierceness, yet there are things we yearn to alter to make our daily lives better.

For me, if I continued to resist change, I’d never have gotten out of my wheelchair, or lost over 130 pounds.  I feared change, but was desperate enough for a different life to push myself hard to accomplish it.  Now, I can beam with pride, having met and surpassed the challenges I set for myself.  With higher self-esteem, I can do more in my life and for others.  Homeostasis, (no appreciable change) when that place is less than I was designed to be, makes me feel worse, not better.

magical, forest, sensory experiences, children

What goals do your kids have?  How can you help them to reach their goals?  First, modeling is important.  You can share your goals with your kids, and they will watch you progress with those goals. Your observable behavior can inspire them to make good changes in their lives too.

For example, if you wish to stop smoking, quantify your goal by putting this big change in measurable terms.

1)  I will cut down my cigarettes to 1 pack a week by Jan. 31st.

2)  I will cut down my cigarettes to 1/2 pack a week by Feb. 28th.

3)  I will no longer be a smoker by March 31st.

Don’t worry, your kids will keep you honest, and monitor you all their waking hours. They want you alive to dance at their weddings!  They will also be your cheerleaders for change.

If your kid wants to get better grades, this is great, but vague.  Have them sharpen the goal, and keep it positive, putting goals in terms of what they will do versus what they won’t.

Example:  I will improve my history grade from a C to a B next semester by studying an extra two hours each week, and reading my text on time.

Children today have far more homework than their parents’ generation, and many extracurricular activities too.  While goals are very important to moving their lives forward toward adult successes, it is absolutely crucial that they be given free time on a daily basis to play, do nothing, rest, be social, and be children.  The downtime is necessary for learning to take hold, to give them time to ponder all they learn in school and the world, and to dream, and play.

It is essential too, for children’s mental health to not be overburdened with a ton of activities.  Playing gives them freedom to fully be themselves, gain experience with social interactions, and to give free rein to their imaginations.  Without downtime and play, for both adults and kids, life can become a drudgery of necessities.   Then depression sets in, as well as apathy.  They will only be children for so long.

Winter break should stay just that–a serious break for two weeks, to allow them to have the holidays with family and friends.  All of your goals can wait to begin after winter break.  Enjoy this free time with your kids, and make some new memories.  Then, after they go back to school, focus on goals.  Play with your kids.  You need this play and the break as much as they do.  Put your to-do lists down, and let the housework go.  Play a game.  If you have snow, go sledding or make a snowman.  You won’t regret it.

snow day

Time for Mommy and Daddy

How can anyone continously nurture a young life, or take care of anyone else, if they don’t take care of themselves?  Everyone needs downtime from any ongoing responsibility.  No one can effectively provide for others 24/7, 365 days of the year without taking time for themselves, or perform responsibilities continually, without breaks.  Even God took a break from creating the world, on the seventh day, for heaven’s sakes!  This isn’t to say that having fun and relaxing with your children doesn’t relax and rejuvenate you, it does!  However, you’re still in the responsible, caregiving mode.  You need time outside of that role to have a full break.

Flapping her own wings!

In many jobs, a supervisor tells employees when to take their breaks, and it isn’t merely a suggestion. Rest periods are built into the labor force’s regulations for a reason.  Protracted time engaged in any labor without remitting, will cause a person to begin making mistakes, be injured, or even physically collapse.

With parenting, only you can determine when you need a time-out.  Your mate should encourage you to rest and take time for yourself, when he/she sees you getting irritable or stressed out, and cover for you with the kids.  Then you do the same for your spouse.  Even if you don’t view yourself as someone who can get stressed enough to be abusive to your children, the longer you provide care for anyone without R&R (rest and relaxation, the bigger that very risk becomes. 

Having time for Mommy and Daddy to be just Joe and Debbie, and separate individuals is critical in many other ways too.  Without making time for your relationship, when big stressors hit, the stress can tear your union apart if it isn’t strengthened by bonding activities. Providing yourself sufficient opportunities to be an individual, makes your world bigger and more intriguing, adds to your self-esteem account, and helps prevent the symptoms I listed above.

Taking breaks to do things for you, models for your kids an important sense of balance between work and play, and helps them develop their own interests and become more well-rounded young individuals.  Alone time is also perfect for reinventing yourself, deciding on goals for your present and future life.

What are some things you can do as a couple, to build some rest and relaxation into your lives, as well as enriching you as an individual?

  •  Go to the gym together and work out. Exercise spawns those feel-good endorphins, helping stressors not get to you as much, plus you’re doing it together!
  • A dinner/movie date.  See something that isn’t animated!
  • Take a class together—first a class in something one of you is interested in, and the next, what the other partner wants.  Sample each other’s inner life!
  • Go for a hike and have a romantic picnic.
  • Take a drive in the country at dusk, watch the sunset and then sit under the stars, and make a grown-up wish!
  • Can’t get away?  Have a night-in, romanticize your bedroom a bit (candles, incense, music, a little Chardonnay) and celebrate the two of you!
  • Do something you used to do when you were dating, and rekindle that magic.

What you do doesn’t matter as much as the frequency, as well as having alone time for each of you.  Have hobbies? Then, when you come back after a time-out to take care of your children, you’re more centered, happy, and feelOne of my releases, creating art! fulfilled, rested and rejuvenated.  It is hard to get angry at a child’s behaviors when you feel that good!  Besides, once your children are grown and out of the nest, it is just going to be the two of you.  What you do now to keep your relationship alive and growing, will very likely be your saving grace when that time comes! 

(at left, my release—creating art!)