Setting parenting goals for 2021
Good Enough parenting, self-care and maintaining equilibrium in the New Year.
It’s that time of year again when we make all sorts of promises to ourselves in an honest attempt at self-improvement and enlightenment. After the year we’ve had, many of us have reflected on what is important to us and may even have experienced some profound shifts in our priorities and values, or maybe we just can’t wait to get back to how things used to be.
When it comes to parenting, most of us find that we are learning by trial and error. Just when we think we’ve got it sussed, our baby changes, grows, undergoes a developmental leap, and the goalposts move. We have to work it all out from first principles all over again.
Wherever you stand on the concept of New Year’s Resolutions, there is certainly some value in thinking about how you would like to approach parenting in the year ahead and working out what you need to do to achieve those goals.
Research does seem to strongly support the idea that we only need to be “Good Enough” and our babies need love more than routine, attention more than discipline, and happy parents more than perfect parents. In this spirit, I hereby offer my suggestions for five parenting resolutions as we turn the page on 2020 and see what 2021 has in store for us:
You can’t give what you haven’t got so you need to be responsive to your own needs in order to be able to support your children. Whether that’s taking 5 minutes for a daily mindfulness practice, or making time for a weekly bubble bath, self-care isn’t optional.
Find your village.
“It takes a village to raise a child”, even in a global pandemic. You have not evolved to do this alone or with just your partner so there is no shame in seeking help. Reach out to a friend for a natter, join an online parenting forum, attend a zoom drop-in, book a postnatal doula. Do whatever you need to feel part of a community. We really are in this together and you are not alone.
Trust your instincts.
No one knows your child the way you do. Not the medical professionals, internet parenting gurus or your Mum. Listen to your baby, let them tell you what they need from you. If a course of action feels wrong or counterintuitive it probably isn’t right for you and your family. If something is working and feels right to you, even if someone else disapproves, stick with it. You are good enough. Trust yourself.
Find the joy.
Parenting small people can feel unrelenting at times. It can feel like a neverending cycle of milk, poo and self-doubt. But there are moments of sublime contentment and satisfaction if you actively look for them. Notice the way the light falls on your sleeping baby’s cheek; see the pride swell in your partner as they soothe your baby in a sling; recognise the glee in your child’s uncontrollable giggles. These things are so precious and we can miss them if we are not careful. Maybe start a gratitude journal so you have moments of joy to look back on when you are feeling low.
Remember who you are.
Being someone’s parent is an honour, a privilege and noble undertaking, but it is probably not ALL you are. Nourish your other interests and talents occasionally, if only to keep them ticking over until such time as you have the energy and attention to give them again. It’s easy to let yourself be consumed by the needs of your baby, but you will surface again one day and, although changed, you will find that you are still you.
I’ll be doing my best to follow these 5 resolutions as I tackle parenting two teenagers. The challenges may change but I am still a Good Enough Parent.
What parenting resolutions are you planning to implement? Comment below or join the conversations on our Facebook group.
I wish you all the very best for a happy and healthy 2021.