We love the clean slate of a brand-new year. Whatever parenting blunders you made over the last 12 months (from getting lazy about veggies to BlackBerry-ing through family dinners) -- that was then, and this is now. Make a promise to be a more patient, present, and imaginative parent. What could be more important, after all? We asked real moms for their resolutions. Make these totally doable changes today -- and keep them up all year long.
Don't Say "Don't"
I want to reduce how often I use the word "don't." That means I'll say, "Pease be kind to your brother" instead of "Don't talk to him that way." I think it's better for our relationship for me not to always be the source of negative reminders. When I do say "don't" for an important reason, maybe it will stick more since they are not barraged by "don'ts" constantly.
-- Laura, Montclair, New Jersey
Put a Cap on Your Work Day
I try never to check e-mail after 6 p.m. -- even though it never stops coming in. I let the day's tasks, hassles, and responsibilities slowly melt off me as I become present for my daughter. The computer got my attention all day -- now it's my daughter's turn.
-- Jaine, San Diego, California
Make One Dinner
I'd like to be better about letting the kids have what we're having for dinner (even though we eat it after they're in bed). If we're having French lentils with carrots, they can, too -- no real reason why I can't prepare and assemble that in kid-size bites and portions, too. Sometimes I use the justification that I just want them to eat, no arguments. But then sometimes they don't eat the peas and pizza anyway! May as well be trying for something a little more adventurous and expanding their palates.
-- Melisa, Brooklyn, New York
Everyone Goes Green
I've recently committed to being more eco-conscious and would really like to share that with my children, as it's their future world that will be affected by this. One small thing is that instead of sending greeting cards this year, I've had my kids help me compile digital slideshows on Photobucket from pictures we've taken throughout the year. We'll e-mail these out to friends and family with captions, showing off that we saved paper by using fun, online tools. Also, the site donates 10 cents per slideshow to the Nature Conservancy -- so my kids can be extra proud that they are making a difference. We'll do this instead of birthday cards and valentines, as well!
-- Alice, Los Altos, California
Make Exercise More Than a Game
One son is a jock but the other is not. I want to make sure he doesn't learn to dislike physical activity just because he's not the pitcher on the Little League team. I want to try to find more ways to sneak non competition-related exercise into my days with the boys -- more bike rides, more walking scavenger hunts, more silly relay races, more dance contests.
-- Katherine, Brooklyn, New York
My resolution is to create a clean home environment for them -- to be a cleaning lady, stay on top of laundry and all household chores. I want the baby to have an area to crawl around in without clutter, my 4-year-old to be able to play with his trains, and my husband to be happy, which will lead to a more pleasant home environment for the kids.
-- Anonymous Mom (who hasn't given notice just yet!)
I resolve to begin speaking more Spanish around our home. Since I am the bilingual parent in the home, it's up to me to raise our children speaking more than one language. We will sing, dance, and play our way through this mission of mine. With more than 45 million people in our country alone speaking Spanish, it's about time I use my passion for the Latin American culture and language to instill that knowledge in my own three children.
-- Beth, Tampa, Florida
Mother and Wife
I'm making a promise to not give all my time to being a good mom but make sure to save some of "me" to share with My Super Fantastic Supportive Husband. Giving my children a good example of a healthy and loving marriage will hopefully help them feel secure, confident, and blessed.
-- Cher, Metuchen, New Jersey
A Little Patience
Every mommy probably makes this promise -- to be more patient with my kids. I hate when, at the end of a long day, I start snapping at them and issuing ridiculous threats ("if you two don't calm down, I'm not doing the bedtime routine tonight!").
-- Jessica, Brooklyn, New York
Potty of One
This year, no more children in the bathroom with me. My daughter's 2 and understands how it works. At this point its just voyeurism.
-- Chris, North Kingstown, Rhode Island