Why you shouldn’t bother with New Years Resolutions as a Mum (or Mum-to-be)

In the archives of this blog there are many posts about New Years Resolutions as a Mum. At the time of writing them, they helped me to feel inspired. They gave me that “New Year feeling”. I felt like I had my life in order… for the brief few moments before my children exploded my ideas about routine and order anyway.

So if you’re in the messy middle of parenting like me. Or perhaps you’re a brand new Mum. Or a waiting to be Mum. Or a hoping to be Mum. Let’s talk about New Years Resolutions. And why it’s probably time we found a better system. Big lofty, year long goals are incompatible with Mum life, let’s do something else instead.

New Years Resolutions as a Mum

Why you shouldn’t bother with New Years Resolutions as a Mum

New Years Resolutions are too long term

A whole year in Mum-years is basically an eternity. When you have kids, time does this strange warp and you can look back on pictures from a year ago and not even recognise yourself, or your kids. Too many times I’ve set resolutions and have literally not looked at them again until I come to write NEW resolutions. A whole year later. I often laugh at my idealistic past self and all the things she thought she would achieve in a year.

Don’t get me wrong though. I am not saying goals don’t work. They absolutely do. I just think the timing of New Year Resolutions as a Mum and setting these grand year long goals is the wrong approach. With all the things I have going on, I can barely think past tomorrow. A week is pushing it, and a month ahead is my absolute limit. Shorter, more regular goal setting is a much better approach.

I try to sit down at the start of every month and write a few specific goals. Then I plan out weekly on a Sunday and try to look back at those monthly goals to see if I’m hitting them. If you’re interested, I’ll share my January goals below. I’d love to hear in the comments what yours are.

My January 2022 Goals.

Business – Write at least 4 blog articles

Health – Close all of my Apple Watch rings (I’m currently in a competition with my sister-in-law which is proving great motivation.)

Relationships – Take one-on-one time with all my boys.

Self – Read 4 books (Nothing feels more like holidays to me, then reading!)

My first goal is the perfect example of why New Years Resolutions don’t work for me. I’ve had “blog more” on my New Years list for YEARS. This year, I’m just going to set numerical goals monthly and make sure I hit them weekly. Given it is currently the 11th January and I’m already writing my 2nd post, I’m feeling like this will work well for me.

Mum life is too unpredictable for year long goals

Let me ask you this. When you plan out all things you want to achieve in a day with children, how much of your day ends up actually looking like said plan? For me, it’s always negative 25%. Or more clearly, absolutely nothing. It’s like they have little radars –“Mum has a plan. Bahahahaha. Jokes on her!”

Whether it’s your 3 year old with his own very DEFINITE plan, or you’re pregnant and have NO idea what your baby will be like and what you’ll be able to do around them; it’s too hard to plan a whole year when so much of your life isn’t just yours to plan.

You’re not really just planning for yourself, are you? You’re planning for you + the little people in your life (who in my experience tend to throw you curve balls as soon as soon as you find yourself in some sort of predictable rhythm).

It’s much easier just to focus on the next couple of weeks or months, rather than a whole year.

New Years Resolutions are too results focused

New Years Resolutions often fail because we focus on the results we want to see, instead of the actions we will take. We want to have a fit body. Lose 10kgs. Finish that degree. Get a new job. Save $10 000.

In the never-endingness of daily motherhood, it’s hard to remember those lofty goals we set at the start of the idealistic haze of the new year. Especially when we don’t have any plan of what we will do to actually get there.

It also sets us up to fail because we often have very little control over the final result. You can’t actually control whether your body loses weight or not. (There’s a whole range factors in that equation that are outside of your control – hormones, injuries, illness, your body’s natural healthy weight point, etc). Eating delicious healthy food that makes you feel good, however, IS something you can control.

Focusing on the things you will actually do is far more practical when you’re a Mum. (Actually, it is this way for everyone, but even more so when most of your life is based around tiny dictators with their own agendas). You’re far better off putting your energy into creating the small daily habits that will lead you to those bigger goals.

For example. Instead of worrying about “getting fit” set the goal to create a habit of going for a daily walk. Or of getting up before your kids to workout. Or booking your kids into 3 weekly creche sessions at the gym, so you have no excuses but to go.

When you set goals in this way you’re also more likely to realise when your goals just aren’t reasonable for this season of life. (Which is 100% okay. Don’t feel bad if you can’t start that business, save that money, workout regularly. Staying sane as a Mum is a really important goal too.) If you can’t work out how you’re going to take action on your goals today, or this week, it’s really unlikely that you’re going to make much progress in a year. So perhaps that one needs to be shelved for a bit and you need to reevaluate what is important to you, now, in the reality of daily life.

Sometimes you just need to survive, not resolve to be better.

Every single year we set these resolutions with the assumption that we need to somehow become a better version of ourselves than last year’s version. But sometimes our New Years Resolutions as a Mum just needs to be to ‘survive it’.

The first year with a new babe is one of those years where I don’t think you should set anything more than ‘meet this new version of myself kindly’.

A year in which you’ve been struggling to conceive, or you’ve recently lost a baby, doesn’t need you to set a bunch of resolutions about how you’ll do everything perfect next time. This year you need a resolution about letting yourself heal and leaning into all the good things you already have in your life.

A year of divorce or separation might simply require a resolution about taking it one day a time, without the pressure of anything extra.

And of course, a year that comes as the third year in a global pandemic is probably not the one in which to try and push yourself too hard. Maybe this year we should just all resolve to learn how to rest properly?

Bottom line. Don’t get too caught up in the New Years hype. Self-reflection (svadhyaya) and self-improvement can be great at times, but I don’t think we should be perpetually in these states. There’s a time (and a season) for gratitude and contentment too. It’s equally as admirable to choose to be perfectly okay with everything exactly how it is, without any desire for change. It’s okay to resolve to just be, and not DO this New Years.

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