Before being inducted into the minute-by-minute insanity we call motherhood, where peeing with the door closed is a luxury, talking on the phone without someone one screaming in the background is not an option and more often than not I’ve got little arms and legs wrapped around me at 2 am, instead of my husband’s large hairy ones, I’d envisioned full-time motherhood as the ultimate fairytale come to life!
When I was six months pregnant with my now 17 old-year-old daughter I was more than happy to trade in my pseudo Melanie Griffith working girl status- minus the aqua-netted hair and sneakers-I wouldn’t be caught dead walking the streets of NYC in a pair of City Slips, for full-time stay at home motherhood.
Yeah- I don’t know what the hell I was thinking! Instead of breathlessly running for subways and navigating the minefield of catty office politics I had visions of waking up each morning, to the sweet sounds of babies cooing, sunlight streaming though my windows, lounging in my pajamas, sipping coffee, while my little cherub sat snugly in her pink onesie staring up at me adoringly.
Of course any mom in the trenches could’ve warned me that I was in for a rude awakening and that those early years of motherhood would be more akin to basic training in the army. They probably should’ve warned me that I wouldn’t be sipping any liquid leisurely for quite some time I probably wouldn’t be afforded the luxury of waking up past 6:30 am on a weekend or weekday and I’d be spending many nights trying to duck the projectile vomit, my son had a nasty habit of spewing just after he’d been tucked into a nice clean crib.
And after all these years what I’ve learned is that being an imperfect parent is actually the greatest gift we can give out kids, and I’m happy to share some parenting pointers to help you and your kids resolve to be less perfect and more present!
Lisa Earle McLeod, author of “Forget Perfect” and “Finding Grace when You Can’t Even Find Clean Underwear,” is a mom who made a New Year’s resolution to watch more TV with her kids because she finally realized that setting the DVR to record a National Geographic special would create a better family evening than trying to engage her kids in a board game when she was exhausted. Is it the perfect solution? Hardly, but picnics and Parcheesi just aren’t happening for this working mom.
Check out McLeod’s resolutions for every mom who needs a little nudge to chuck her to-do list in the garbage!
Forget perfect: The perfect picture in your head of the way your life and your kids SHOULD be is keeping you from enjoying the way it actually is.
Quit the comparathon: It doesn’t matter what your mother did, or how your neighbor does it, or how color-coordinated the kids look in the Pottery Barn ad, the only person judging you on your life is you. Instead of worrying about what the neighbors think, give yourself some time and space to decide what you think.
Connect and make a difference: We’re at our best when we’re connected to other people and we know what we’re doing with our time. Instead of mindlessly checking items off on your to-do list this year, identify the long-term impact of your actions.
Don’t dump your friends: You don’t do your kids, or yourself, any favors by always putting your friends on the back-burner. If you’re a woman, studies show that when you’re with your women friends your bodies release oxcytocin, a feel-good hormone that does what Prozac and Percocet can’t touch. It’s not selfish to make time for friends; if you’re a parent, it’s survival.
Identify your windows: Instead of worrying about how your whole life is going to turn out, focus on what experiences you want for yourself and this family this year. Not what you want to accomplish, but what you want to actually experience. Your life is a series of windows and this is the only year your child will ever be 2 or 12 again, when you look back at this year, how are you going to wish you spent this time?
Overall: Once people learn to quit living in the land of I shoulda, coulda, woulda, they can step into the joy of the present moment. You don’t have to wait until you get the baby out of diapers, or lose 10 pounds to start loving your life. You deserve to have happiness, and yes even fun, in this life, the one that you have right now, so “forget perfect” and start living it, because guess what? You’re not going to get another one.
So what “perfect resolutions” are you going to let go of and which ones are you going to bring into your life?