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A Present Parent’s Guide to Making New Year’s Resolutions

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Data shows that about 60% of people make New Year’s resolutions. They pledge to go to the gym, stop smoking, eat better, find love—anything they feel will markedly improve their life in the coming year. But unfortunately, the facts say only about 8% of people actually make it through the next year with their resolution still intact. It’s hard! You have to really commit to changing your life.

This year, my resolution is one with no room for failure. I’m resolving to be a more present parent. I’m going to make a concerted effort to be more active in my kids’ lives and make them a central focus in mine.

Setting good goals

The key to keeping a New Year’s resolution is good goal-setting. You need to set SMART goals. To become a more present parent, I’m setting goals that are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timely.

  • Spend 30 minutes each day talking with my kids about their days
  • Go to one new, interesting, fun place with my kids per month
  • Take up one new hobby with each of my kids and dedicate time to it
  • Not have any phones or other electronics out when we sit down for a meal

You might think these goals are underwhelming. Shouldn’t I be doing this stuff already? How will such small things help me be a more present parent?

It’s true, they are simple goals and I do most of these things already. It’s not about setting lofty goals—it’s about setting attainable goals and making them central to my everyday life. I already talk to my kids about their days. But now, because I’ve made it a daily goal, I’m going to be more mindful of it and make it a priority. The same goes with each of my other goals.

The objective is to develop good habits—habits that help me be a more consciously present parent.

Success comes from habit

My goal of being a more present parent is one that relies on developing good habits. In fact, every resolution is made or broken by habit. If you want to eat better, you need to get into the habit of buying fruit, not junk food. Going to the gym? Set a specific time each day and stick to it. Whatever the goal, it’s reinforced by the good habits you make. So, even though I’m already engaged in my kids’ lives, turning the things I do into habits will help me become even more present.

The biggest secret of all? New Year’s resolutions are achieved when you embrace them, not fight them. If you hate going to the gym, you’ll never go. If you despise veggies, you’ll never stick to a better diet. For me, I love spending time with my kids and doing things together with them. Being a present parent isn’t a chore for me—it’s simply a goal I’ve set for myself. It’s something I truly want, which makes me more motivated to work toward it!

When I think about being a more present parent, I think about what that means for my relationship with my kids. And, when I focus on those benefits, I’m convinced I’ll be one of the 8% of people who makes it to 2021 a better person, on the heels of a successful resolution.


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