Every January we do it. We vow to make the coming year a better one by making New Year’s resolutions that sadly, only a small percentage of us actually keep. We’re gonna stop eating bread, stop drinking wine, hit the gym four times a week, and meditate religiously. We try to instantly change lifelong habits and add new ones, and we fail every time. How about this year we try some easier, gentler and more mindful resolutions? Ones that we can concentrate on a few at a time and actually keep. And ones that in the end, may not make us slimmer, but will make us better, happier and more spiritually healthy moms. Here are some ideas:
1. Stop comparing.
Just stop it already. It’s a complete waste of brain energy. Your kids, your house, your cars, your jobs, your vacations, all of your life is yours, and nobody else’s. Everything you’ve been given and have is what you’re supposed to have. The neighbors? Your friends on social media? They’re not your family. Here’s a beginner lesson: Learn to be happy for other people’s successes, not resentful, envious or jealous.
2. Call your parents.
If you’re blessed enough to still have living parents, for the love of God, call them more than once a month. I know you’re busy, maybe they nag, and maybe they go on and on about cousin Mary and Uncle Joe, and you honestly wish they would just learn to text. Call them anyway. I can promise you when they’re gone, your heart will be longing to make that call and hear their voice just one more time. Hey, they raised you to be awesome—aren’t they worth it?
3. Exercise. Not your body, but your mind.
If you can’t remember the last great book you’ve read, get your ass to a library stat. If you have time to scroll through four different social media channels everyday, you have time to digest a few kick-ass novels this year. Your brain synapses will thank you. Join a book club, or go back and reread an old favorite, because that counts too. And really, what smells better than new book smell?
4. Stop trying to be your kid’s best friend.
They don’t need to like you 24/7, and it’s OK for them to get disappointed and sad and frustrated. As a matter of fact, especially during the teen years, if you hear the dreaded “I hate you mom” on occasion, then you’re probably parenting right. Kids and teens not only need limits, they crave them, so go ahead and set plenty. Set them firm and unwavering, and consider yourself winning at parenting every time you get an eye roll, a foot stomp, and a head shake. They need a role model, not a BFF.
5. Be a better girlfriend.
Simply put, start making more time for the women friends in your life. Strong female bonds are vital to both your sanity and your friend’s. Lift them up, encourage their passions and pursuits, listen to their bitching, and be a sounding board for their zany dreams and goals. Eventually, all your kids will actually move out and you’re gonna find you need them. Fiercely.
6. Stop bitching about the messes.
Listen, it’s never gonna be clean until you’re retired and the mess-makers leave permanently. And I know a sink full of dishes and overflowing laundry hampers day in and day out can be oppressively mind-numbing, but it’s just gonna get worse before it gets better. Bitching does nothing but raise the blood pressure of the entire household. Fabulously fun and highly functional families often have very messy houses, so unless HGTV is coming for a photo shoot, relax. The dishes will be there for the next decade. Or two.
7. Be quiet more, respond less.
You’ve heard it before, be slow to anger. You also need to be slow to give advice when you should only be listening, and you need to stop instantly reacting with annoyance to things that truly are “the small stuff.” You need to wait an hour or two before you shoot off a rude knee-jerk reaction email reply to someone who doesn’t really deserve it, and you need to stop neglecting to fully digest a tense situation before you go off the deep end and regret the words you spew out. Inhale, exhale, pause, then speak. Or just don’t speak. You’d be amazed at what you hear when you’re quiet.
8. Put the damn phone down.
I’m as guilty of this as I have ever been, but I vow to make 2016 my year of hands-free living. Unless I’m calling someone to have an actual verbal exchange (not a text!), the phone is going down, dammit! My spouse and I are both tired of being slaves to the constant trill and invasiveness of life coming at us from a tiny screen in our hands. Enough is enough is enough! Wi-Fi, take a freakin’ hike.
9. Be more grateful.
Did you know that gratefulness is a muscle in your state of mind that you need to practice flexing every single day? And I mean every single day. Mine is sorely out of shape way too often. I need to seriously get that grateful muscle to the “I already have everything I need” gym. And you should too. Whether writing down a daily list of blessings is your grateful workout of choice, or spending time in meditation, prayer, or deep thinking, you need to consistently zen yourself out about what you’re honestly and truly thankful for. There is nothing better to fight off envy, sadness or disillusionment than a mind muscle beefed-up and ready-to-punch with joy and gratitude.
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