Skip to main content

Verified by Psychology Today

My New Year's Resolution as a Parent

How to create an amazing and memorable year for you and your kids.

January is a month where many want to set goals for what they want to achieve for the year ahead. These goals promise to make us all feel more successful and more fulfilled.

The thing that constantly surprises me is that I’ve never had any of my clients mention their relationships with their kids as something they want to focus on.

We all tend to look at what’s missing, what to add, what to change, what to improve. Only a few years ago, having kids was our top priority. Now that we have them, our minds move quickly to the next goal. For many of us, life seems to be a race to add things to our already full plate, rather than to enjoy what is already there.

Ariane de Bonvoisin
Source: Ariane de Bonvoisin

We tend to not have strong intentions for our kids at the start of the year. We hope they are happy, healthy, do well at school, and do not get into trouble. And then we go into planning, scheduling, childcare, and solving challenges.

At the same time, when I have asked people what they consider the most important thing in their lives, they usually say, "My kids and my family."

This begs the question, why are we not more focused at the start of the year on our beautiful children (and our spouse), in addition to our personal list: running a Marathon, losing weight, decluttering, saving more money, getting to sleep earlier, and the one I’m reading more and more, starting a meditation practice. Nothing is wrong with any of these.

One New Years intention we should all consider is to focus more on truly being with our children. They won't always be children and they won't always want to spend time with you. Their lives get very busy, very quickly.

Most parents think they already spend too much time with their kids. What I am referring to is very different than taking them to ballet or soccer practice, cooking them healthy food, or helping them with homework. I am talking about how kids really want to be and connect with us. When I’ve asked kids what they most want from their parents, they often say a version of, “Time with Mom or Dad, doing what I love.” When I asked my son last night, his answer was, "Playing with you guys."

Kids also want to know the following:

  1. They have our full attention. They aren’t being squashed in between more work, or other obligations. They already know we are busy. Make them feel like they come first for a few minutes a day.
  2. We really want to be with them. Not because we have to, but because spending time with them is fun.

Let’s consider four intentions for the year. These are not meant to add to our To-Do lists or to trigger guilt. This is to start a "To-Be" list that doesn’t take time or effort.

  1. Being Present. Let’s find time to simply be with our children, whether that is doing what they want, a bike ride, reading together, baking something, sitting and watching them do something they love, even if it's their favorite video game. Let them choose and be interested in why they love this. There will be a time when children can read and won’t ask for one more story. My son loves when I build Legos with him. His eyes light up when I am available and don’t have something else to do.
  2. Being Fun. Bring out the fun. I try not to be so serious and organized and reasonable. I notice how many times I say "No" and instead choose more, "Yes, you can!" Silly is good. I dress in crazy clothes. I put on colored hairspray. Create a music playlist together. Dance. Have pancakes for dinner. These might feel small, but they are huge to your kids and are the magic moments they remember with you. There will probably come a time when my son won’t think I’m that funny or cool.
  3. Being Curious. I ask my son different questions, not only about what is happening externally at school or with friends, or what homework he has. For example, "What is a problem you would like to solve to make the world a better place?" He always answers with something to do with climate change or cleaning up the oceans and how he would fix it. Who is your incredible child, on the inside?
  4. Being Open. I often talk about who I was at my son's age, what was hard for me, and what I loved, so that my son can relate better to me. I let him know me. I share when I have a bad day to normalize the fact that we all have them and so will he. My son came up with the idea to create a card game that we just launched together that has 100 questions kids can ask their parents to get to know them better.

If this year could be an amazing, magical, extraordinary year for your child, how would you show up differently?


KidQuest Card Game: