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Goals, ambitions, plans, resolutions…it’s the stuff of the New Year that gets us all excited. However, after all that we’ve been through during the pandemic, looking so far ahead and setting too many expectations for ourselves and our children may prove to be counterproductive. It could be adding stress and pressure where it isn’t necessary, or even healthy.
While setting goals is a completely valid way to set the tone for the year, perhaps consider what goals are truly worth spending your time on this year. Instead of writing a long list of achievements to check off, think about the quality of life and well-being you would want for you and your kids. If there’s anything we’ve learned from the last two years, it’s that our health and well-being come first. It’s what enables us to put our best selves forward.
Getting curious and rediscovering what matters the most to you and your family at this time could be the answer to finding more structure and harmony in your routines and daily experiences together. It’s a great time to manage expectations guided not by what our external surroundings tell us or what others expect of us but what we need. Spend some time talking to your kids and ask them how they feel about the new year. What do they look forward to the most? What do they need, or need less of? What do you need in order to be there for them? Bring mindfulness to the table by actively listening to each other's thoughts, feelings and aspirations for the year and use that as a starting point in planning for a better year.
Another way you can bring mindfulness to the new year is to practice celebrating small wins each day. Look at the everyday successes that you and your kids continue to accomplish. Everyday things like completing the 10-minute homework from school, learning something new on the Internet, or even ordinary chores like putting their plates away after dinner must be acknowledged. Being kind when others are challenging your patience is an extraordinary thing even though it can happen in our small everyday actions. By doing this, we start to show as well as model for our children deeper qualities like respect and value for the important little things we do on a regular basis…things that may seem small but sometimes take a certain amount of inner strength to achieve.
Mindfulness allows us to see the bigger picture in every choice we make. It gives us the insights to how we can thrive in any given circumstance. Instead of spreading ourselves too thin across all the things we want to do this year, we can choose to focus on the one thing we need right now in order to make the progress we desire in life. Don’t be afraid of leaving your kids’ daily routine unscheduled with activities so they have the time and space to think and make choices for themselves. We may want to leave a little more room for play and discovery so we can grow with the changes we are now faced with everyday.
The last two years hit us at an incredible speed. Let’s give ourselves the permission to pause and reevaluate our values and priorities in life. Let’s teach our kids new ways to live and give them new places to dream. Let’s welcome the year with presence and mindfulness for what’s here and now.
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