2016 has been a rager, y'all. We all know it. But during this crazy year, I've learned a ton about parenthood, womanhood, personhood, wholeness, and what the nebulous concept of "self care" looks like in real life and not on Instagram. I compiled a list of these gleanings I hope might help you make a totally doable plan for 2017 that will make your year and your heart shine.
I wish you a very Happy New Year!
1. To stop feeling obligated to read parenting books.
If you happen to love reading every parenting book that hits the library shelves, that's fantastic, but I'm not really talking to you. I'm talking to the parent who reads these books like generals read tactical guides; to the mom who finds herself feeling more anxious with each conflicting approach she reads about; to the dad who has read so many books he can't quite put his finger on what he believes or values anymore. You're a great parent. Right now. In this moment, with all the knowledge you have in your head and all the love you have in your heart.
Only read books about parenting in 2017 if you expressly want to and see what comes of it.
2. To prioritize yourself.
Just do it. Schedule appointments to take care of yourself and stick to them as diligently as you would to appointments you make for your child, your pet, or your partner. If you do not fully come into the knowledge that you are just as valuable a part of your family as your children and partner, you won't be able to commit to this, and you are important. True story.
3. To prioritize your partnership and/or friendships.
Pro partnership tip: when you get away from the place where you live, alone, you have more to talk about than who fed the dogs and when daycare is having the class picture and where to allocate the tax refund. Who knew?! (Note: tons of people. Tons of people knew. I apparently just found out and it blew my mind.) Resolve to get away from all your responsibilities a few times a year and don't let anything stand in the way of doing just that.
4. To make plans with less in mind.
Do you really want to do all the things you do? Probably not. And there are so many things that you must do regardless of whether or not you enjoy them (lookin' at you, DeKalb County DMV) So why not put major focus and intention into what you do get to pick out for your own enjoyment? You're not obligated to attend every birthday party, festival, MLM invitation, volunteer meeting, sale, rally, recital, book club, or sorority function to which you are invited. Be choosy about what gets your attention and time.
5. To let go of managing your child(ren)'s emotions.
Because you can't. You can't manage their emotions any more than you can manage your boss' or partner's or barista's. And if you let it, that notion can be really freeing. Remembering that I didn't need to manage how my kids were feeling but rather support them through whatever they were going through changed the game for me entirely, mothering-wise. Managing kids' emotions by disallowing them to problem-solve or experience sadness, disappointment, anger, etc. robs them of the skills that result from learning how to get through horrible events like a stolen graham cracker or a broken Polly Pocket. (Is that even a thing anymore? Doubtful.)
6. To nix entertaining conventions that don't resonate.
Look, I'm just going to say it, and it's really not popular so I'm going to drop this knowledge and quickly bounce: if traditions and conventions don't resonate with your family, your values, your budget, your worldview, or your beliefs, nix that shit and move right on along. And since you're also resolving to stop managing people's emotions, you'll know that people's reactions to and feelings about this are just not your business.
7. To look for the absurdity in everything.
Look for the absurdity in everything, and you will find it. If you can't recognize how utterly nuts it is that your toddler will cry hot, bitter tears and tell on you to Grandma because you cut her toast the wrong way, you're in for a world of bummer after bummer. Recognize how insane these tiny people are and you'll probably end up laughing a lot more.
8. To edit and donate hand-me-down's seasonally.
9. To read to your child(ren) every day.
No need to explain this one, science has pretty much covered that.
10. To ration your fucks.