Resolutions for real parents

Self-improvement? That's so last year...

Illustration credit: Janice Nadeau

Every year it’s the same. Wait. Not every year. Every first-day-of-the-month it’s the same, every day-after-my-birthday, every day-after-Halloween, every Monday and, worst of all, every January 1: time to make resolutions. I will not eat sugar. I will be patient with my kids. I will not be late for work. I will exercise an hour a day. I will quit drinking Starbucks grande soy-no-water-Tazo-chai (see how that just rolled off the tongue)? Every imaginable landmark date is the same. It’s time to make resolutions. And every day-after-landmark-date it’s the same: Fail.

So I find myself asking, as 2010 makes its final descent and I espy on the horizon the hopeful rays of a new decade, Why? Why do I keep making resolutions when all I do, over and over again, is colossally fail? I’ve been trying to quit Starbucks and lose my “baby weight” since 2005, just to give you an idea.

I’m sure psychologists are brimming with explanations for those of us who are obsessive resolution makers: something about self-sabotage, perfectionism, fear of success, fear of failure, fear of change. But let’s not blame ourselves. We do enough of that. It’s Western culture’s fault, and I’ll blame skinny models too, and the people who put them on the runway, and Starbucks and whoever invented Mondays.

I have had enough of resolutions I can’t keep. So I’m taking a stand. This January 1 begins the dawn of a new age — the age of the attainable resolution. Are you with me?

Read on for my 11 totally attainable New Year’s resolutions….
Here are my attainable resolutions for 2011 — and I think 11 is a good number. As I write these, I’ll have you know that I am sipping a grande soy-no-water-Tazo-chai with great gusto.

1. I will lose weight
Digital scales are overrated. To start 2011 off right, I’m going to buy an old-fashioned scale that lets you turn the dial as far back as you want to. I’m thinking 15 pounds will do it. I will also weigh myself with my fat cat, so I can blame any apparent weight gain on him. In between weigh-ins, I will attempt to eat more vegetables and less sugar. Doable.

2. I will quit Starbucks
As with any drug addiction, quitting chai lattes is my impossible dream. But I’m actually going to do it this year. Twenty-one times. Doable.

3. I will be more patient with my children
As of January 1, my new mantra will be “They are not the boss of me.” When I feel the buds of impatience blooming, I will take deep breaths — if possible, as I am sitting cross-legged, with my index fingers to my thumbs — and repeat my mantra. Then I will tackle them with tickles. If that doesn’t work, I will eat cake. Doable.

4. I will not be late for things
Being late is one of my worst flaws — and everyone’s pet peeve. So something has to be done this year. Aside from waking up 20 minutes earlier in the morning (reluctantly doable), I will assign my husband his own attainable New Year’s resolution of kicking his wife out of the house on time, whether she is ready to go or not. He will enjoy this resolution. Doable.

5. More quality me-time
As a mom of two kids, ages three and five, all I want to do at the end of the day, when they are finally tucked into bed, is collapse in front of some reality TV with my cat and a bowl of carbs. Before I know it, it’s past midnight and that novel I’m attempting to read continues to collect dust on my night table. This year I will get off the couch an hour earlier, watch MTV in bed and read ambitious novels during the commercials. My cat actually prefers the bed. Doable.

6. I will stop being so hard on myself
I recently realized that when I get too restrictive, say, with my diet or exercise regime, I lose control in other areas of my life. So whenever I’m tempted to restrict myself too much, I resolve to simply frolic with my kids. Try to be hard on yourself while frolicking. I dare you. Doable.

7. I will stop being so easy on myself
But, then again, with no restrictions, I risk getting out of control. So I resolve to listen to my body. When it tells me I’m hungry, I’ll eat. When it tells me I’m full, I’ll stop. When it tells me I’m tired, I’ll watch one more reality TV show and then go to bed. Doable.

8. I will be less indecisive
Nobody likes wishy-washy. I resolve to make real decisions and stand by them. Or, well, I don’t know, maybe I’ll just call my mother. Mothers know best, right? Doable.

9. I will make mistakes
Doable, but there’s more. I will make mistakes and I will not berate myself for making mistakes. Instead of berating myself, I will berate my puppy while giving her belly rubs and a cookie. Doable.

10. I will be less anxious
“Don’t do that — you’ll fall and hurt yourself!” I would love to be less anxious — especially around the kids. So when I feel my pulse start to quicken, I will breathe in. Then I will breathe out and think about something I’m grateful for. Again, if that doesn’t work, I will eat cake. But only if I’m hungry (see #7). Doable.

11. I will break boundaries
The dawn of a new decade is exciting — the perfect time to make real, sustainable changes. I will stop making unattainable resolutions. I will take risks, get crazy, fly, spin, trust, frolic with my kids. I will take life in and savour it, finding freedom and happiness where they’re actually attainable — on the inside. Doable.