by MADELINE COY
Raising kids is hard enough at the best of times, but as we head into year three of a global pandemic, it’s totally understandable if you and yours are seriously close to losing your minds. There’s no how-to book for getting through this, so let’s focus on what we can control instead, and how we can make the most of it!
By adding some fresh intentions (and a little self-care) into your day-to-day routine, your New Year can look a lot more like a win compared with the past few! Here are our best parenting plays for kicking off 2022.
1. Hold the Phone
We’re all guilty of gadget addictions, but your kids don’t have to know that! This year, try using a time-tracking app to limit your family’s daily screen time and set parameters so you don’t overindulge in social platforms or online games. Less screen time means more time being present with the fam — and because most kids act out to win your attention, your undivided time can significantly lessen the number of blow-ups, sibling fights, and headaches. That’s a pretty big win!
2. Stop Buying Noisy Toys
If you haven’t already learned this the hard way, we’re here to say: Just don’t do it. The kids won’t be missing out on much, but you’ll miss out on a whole lot — like sleep, prevailing calm throughout the house, and any sanity you had left. Trust us on this one.
Everyone deserves the right to simply exist. You don’t always need to be improving your life, climbing the corporate ladder, pushing your kids to excellence, or pressurizing yourself to “do better.” For a change of perspective, allow yourself to be satisfied with your current circumstances — when you stop trying to optimize everything, you might just find yourself enjoying all that you have.
4. Say Yes to “Me Time”
It’s easy to put yourself last when you’re a parent and sacrifice your autonomy in the process — but that doesn’t mean it’s always the best thing to do, for you or your family. When mom and dad are burned out, everyone suffers. This year, think about all the ways you can fill your cup with the good stuff and reset — whether it’s bubble baths or bubbly, meditation or massages, doodling or date night, do the things that feed your soul.
5. Get Those ZZZs
There is nothing better than a delicious night of uninterrupted sleep to recharge your batteries and regain some sanity. Have trouble sleeping regardless of the kids? Try avoiding screen time before bed, or download sleep apps that help coax you into a sweet slumber. After all — good sleep is cheaper than therapy.
6. Put the Kids to Work
Running a household takes an enormous amount of work — especially if you’re managing it alone. Lessen your load and free yourself up for all the good stuff by getting the kids involved in weekly chores — we promise you won’t regret the free labor. Sure, they may protest at first, but that’s where imagination and incentives come in. Hot tip: Sell it like a game with an opportunity to win.
Kids are really good at reminding us how boring we can be as adults. This year, surprise them and yourself with how much fun you can have. So swing on the swingset, beat them in a bike race, sit down to a plastic tea party with stuffed animals, build a fort, and defend the ship from pirates. Lean into the make-believe!
8. Ditch the Comparison Game
One of the least productive things parents do is compare themselves to other parents. No one has it all figured out, and if they claim to, they’re lying. Parenting mistakes are a rite of passage and the reason for all our best stories. Plus, being late to the school pick-up line in three-day-old sweatpants and seriously unwashed hair doesn’t constitute bad parenting — it’s just part of being human. This year, ditch your desire to be more like the parent at your kid’s school that looks like they have it all together. Spoiler alert — they probably don’t.
9. Prioritize Your Needs
As a parent, it can be all too easy to neglect your body, sacrifice meals or sleep, and skimp on the things you truly need — like adult shampoo or a nice bottle of Mommy juice for those extra-long days. But neglecting your needs will put you on a fast track to burnout and make everything about parenting feel rather *extra*. This year, make a list of things you can do for you — both physical and mental — and own it.
For many parents, it can be super hard to set boundaries. Everything from saying “no” to taking much-needed personal time can feel like you’re letting your kids down. But boundaries are crucial for retaining your sense of self and helping the kids understand respect and healthy communication ( No, you cannot bust into the bathroom every time Mommy’s in here ). This year, try integrating more boundaries into your parenting game and see how they react. You might just be surprised!
11. Listen to Your Instincts
Parenting can bring on a lot of questions, and many times, the answers can’t be found with a simple google search. But instincts (especially the parental kind) are like superpowers . They come out of thin air and set up shop in your mind, body, and heart. We’re physically programmed for survival and nature’s already done the heavy lifting. So this year, tune in to that little voice — sometimes your instincts are the best free advice you’ll ever get.
This new year is full of untapped potential for you and the kiddos. And although it may be another rollercoaster of thrilling highs and lows, you have all the tools you need to ride it out in style. Here’s to 2022 — may it be truly beautiful chaos.