Is it really here? Has 360-something days already passed us by? I feel like I was just feeling the California coast summer sun on my face. I guess it’s true: the days are long, but the years are short. I’ve always said:
Life is a about growth, about evolution, and what better time to take stock of ourselves and our lives and find a new path for change than a new year? As the holiday season winds to a close, and we are bombarded with messages asking what we are going to change or improve in the New Year. Most of the time, these resolutions revolve around eating healthier or exercising more or giving up the F word
(my personal favorite, and one I have yet to make stick). But, what would happen if we
thought more broadly? What if we thought not just about how we could be better for
ourselves, but how we could be better as parents and parenting partners?
I am a believer in intentionality in every aspect of your life and parenting might be one of
the most important areas where this can make a huge difference. It is so easy as
parents shift into autopilot when we are so busy trudging through the day-to-day tasks
of making our families run smoothly. There is no shame in that. I am the first to admit
that there are days, dare I say weeks, that I am going through the motions, just trying to
get through the day. But we can’t get these days back, and each one we let slip by is a
lost chance to impact our kids in ways we can’t even understand yet.
Being intentional about parenting is paying attention to the quality of the time you spend together, about noticing not just what you say to your kids, but how say it, and it’s about taking a
moment to reflect on the lessons you are teaching them with every interaction they have
with you. My reason for intentional living is my daughter. She is my reason, she is my everything.
Also, save some of that intentionality to sprinkle into your relationship with your
co-parenting partner. This one might be a little tougher, but it’s arguably as important. Just
like with anything else, we can go through the motions with our parenting partner
without really thinking about if what we are doing is still working for us or our kids. This
relationship deserves as much care as our parenting relationship, because it will
inevitably bleed into it. Our children need us to be intentional about cultivating a healthy
relationship with our parenting partner, which take continued reevaluation and constant
As this year closes, stop, breathe, and take time to identify some things you’d like to
focus on that could improve your relationship with your children as well as your
relationship with your parenting partner. How can I be a better parent and parenting
partner going into the New Year? Pay attention to where kids are developmentally and assess if they need something different from you this year as a parent. Are they just about to enter
the tween or teen years? Do you have children about to start school or maybe just
learning to drive and craving more independence? It is possible that your parenting bag
of tricks may need a refresh for this next stage so take some time to think about how
you can best support their growth while also strengthening your relationship with them.
And here’s another cheat code: JUST ASK YOUR KIDS!!! Get their input on what they
feel they need from you asyou start the new year. I guarantee they will be shocked and
happy that you asked.
When determining if you are passing or failing at this coparenting thing, ask yourself what worked and what didn’t in this past year. What would you have done differently? Is there an area where you need to be more assertive or more flexible? If you have a really good relationship, this may even be a conversation that you can have together. Remember, your children are the beneficiaries of this sometimes uncomfortable work, so it will always be worth it.
So, as you reflect on the past year, are you the same person? Have you wasted the year or have your grown as a person? This New Year will give us all another opportunity to rock this parenting thing, to be present for our children in a new way and to be open and cooperative parenting partners. By
bringing reflection and intentionality to the most important relationships in our lives, we
not only make their lives just a little better, but we also cultivate peace for ourselves.
May this New Year’s Day be the first day of a more intentional you!