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We’ve officially hit that time of year when people scrutinize their lives, identify their shortcomings, and vow to make next year better.
Research from the University of Scranton found that a whopping 45% of Americans make some kind of resolution in honor of the new calendar year. Sadly, only 8% successfully follow through.
Part of the problem is the way in which people formulate their pledges; sweeping declarations like “I will lose weight and remain skinny forever!” or “I will pinch every penny and never worry about money again!” usually call for a life overhaul of epic proportions.
But between play dates and soccer games and homework help, we busy moms don’t have time for such life overhauls.
If we promise ourselves the moon, we’re just setting ourselves up for failure and disappointment.
There’s a better way. Here are five common New Year’s Resolutions, plus some ideas for how to make them more realistic – and achievable – given the busy mom lifestyle.
5 New Year’s Resolutions for Busy Moms
Traditional Resolution: This year I will ban all junk food from my diet.
Busy Mom’s Spin: This year I will make three meals a week healthier.
Don’t bother swearing off chocolate forever because the minute you do, you’ll find yourself craving Snickers bar after Snickers bar. Instead, choose a reasonable number of meals to improve each week, and see where it takes you.
If your family has a Friday pizza night tradition, skip the greasy delivery and try making your own at home with whole wheat dough and lots of veggies on top. Or if your hectic mornings often involve donuts from the local convenience store, resolve to bake some healthy muffins on Sunday for nutritious on-the-go breakfasts throughout the week.
Traditional Resolution: I resolve to get in the best shape of my life.
Busy Mom’s Spin: I resolve to find ways to incorporate physical activity into my current routine.
If you’re expecting 2014 to magically have an extra hour in the day earmarked for the gym, you’re going to be sorely disappointed. But that doesn’t mean you can’t move your body more, even on days without dedicated treadmill time.
Commit to taking the stairs instead of the elevator. Never spend more than an hour sitting in front of your computer without getting up for a short walk. Or turn your quality time with your kids into exercise by going out to play in the snow with them. A good snowball fight will torch as many calories as your regular sweat session.
Traditional Resolution: This year I’ll earn enough money for my dream vacation/home improvement project/private yacht (right…….).
Busy Mom’s Spin: This year I’ll find three relatively painless ways to pad my savings account.
Even if saving hundreds of dollars a month isn’t feasible, you can still find little ways to cut back. Set aside an afternoon to examine your monthly bills, making sure you’re not being charged too much or getting hit with avoidable fees. Switch your mindset to consider Starbucks a special treat rather than a daily habit. And decide which conveniences are truly worth the extra money – can’t you shred those carrots yourself? – and which aren’t.
Traditional Resolution: I vow to keep my house clutter-free for the next twelve months.
Busy Mom’s Spin: I vow to develop a cleaning and organization system that fits my lifestyle.
It happens to the best of us: We want our homes to look like they’re straight out of an interior design magazine, yet continue to treat our kitchen table like a dumping ground for junk mail and catalogs.
The key to getting organized is to work with your natural tendencies instead of against them. If the idea of spending an entire weekend cleaning sounds like pure torture to you, then instead resolve to spend 10 minutes a day tidying up. If you’re the type that would rather knock it all out in one shot, then don’t give yourself grief over pushing off the laundry.
Traditional Resolution: This year I’m going to keep life in perspective, counting my blessings and focusing on what really matters.
Busy Mom’s Spin: See above.
This one is worth it. We should all resolve to make it happen.
11 responses to “The Busy Mom’s Guide to New Year’s Resolutions”
I find it’s easy to stick to resolutions when I have a good guide to follow. A few years back I worked through the book One Year to an Organized Life and I would definitely recommend it. It was a good experience. And one of these days I really want to get around to reading The Happiness Project.
I want to read The Happiness Project as well. I’ve read several columns by Gretchen Rubin and always appreciate her perspective.
Yep, making realistic resolutions is the key to actually keeping them. Thanks and happy 2014!
Small steps for big gains is a great way to start 2014!
With exercise and weight loss being so high on many busy mom’s resolution list, these suggestions for it are great. Here’s one version that’s helped me : every time you open the refrigerator, do 5 of some tiny exercise like pushing your stomach as far out as possible, then pulling it in as tight as possible. Excellent for building core muscle strength. But you could do 5 knee bends or leg lifts or whatever… When standing at the sink, raise up on your toes 5 times. Etcetera. Tiny commitments throughout the day end up not only seamlessly incorporating toning exercises, it lowers the exercise intimidation factor enough to feel like we’ve accomplished something, which then inspires more dedication.
Thanks for this valuable, realistic post. Passing it on to my young mom friends.
Great point! Tiny exercise rituals like the ones you suggest can go a long way, both physically and mentally.
As a busy dad, I’ve also done these resolutions, and haven’t kept any of them. I am going to take the small steps like you advise, but also think about what I can do today to live healthier and happier.
I don’t tend to make resolutions, but what I have done is change my lifestyle slightly in ways that contribute to exercise and better eating habits. Example: when I go to the grocery store, I walk the parameter at least once, that lap counts for walking to get my heart pumping, plus it’s good exercise. Park farther away (but not so far that you’re too far from help if you need it) giving you more walk time. Again, exercise worked into a routine.
Then in the morning perhaps I’ll vacuum my office, clean up a room or empty the dishwasher. Tasks I hate, but if I do them quickly before work they get done and I’m happy.
And as for losing weight and dieting, I’ve replaced regular pasta with whole grain pasta; whole grains are healthier and really don’t taste that much different. The higher fiber makes me fuller and I don’t snack. For snacks, I get a back of baby raw carrots and eat them plain or spoon out some peanut butter on a plate and dip them in that. Healthy, higher fiber so I’m full, quick and easy. I don’t have kids, but if the kids see you eating that way and you act like it’s good, they might just try it when you aren’t looking.
As for saving money, get a jar and fill it with change. Some friends did that and their daughter, who was 5-6 at the time, saved her change. When they finally emptied their jar they’d saved over $450 in coins. Their reward was a trip to Disneyland for saving so much.
Your tips are great ideas! Creative ways to incorporate lifestyle changes that benefit food, health and family. Thanks for sharing!
Thanks, Linda, for sharing your suggestions! Those kinds of quick, simple life changes can really add up.
I love your tips on making reasonable resolutions. We should make goals that are challenging, but they also need to be achievable. By small and simple things are great things brought to pass.
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