This Is the Year I...

How to tackle 8 life-changing (yet do-able) New Year's Resolutions - and how your babysitter can help.

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As if you don't have enough on your to-do list already. But tell us, how many of those to-dos are for you? Chances are they're things like "start potty training" and "buy milk." What about your needs? Where do your life goals fit in?

It's a classic Mom-move to put everyone else in your family first. But now it's time to make time for yourself. This is where finding a babysitter comes in. Whether, you pick 2 days a week your family has to work around your schedule or you pay the nanny for an extra hour, you need to designate chunks of time to do the things you want to do. This will make for a happier, healthier you.

But first, figure out what you want to do. The best way to do this is by setting personal goals that you truly desire but are also attainable. In other words, they need to be SMART: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound. A proponent of this time-tested system is Maggie Mistal, a career change and life-purpose coach. She's also a brand-new mom.

"Getting specific on what you'd like to achieve is where the motivation comes from," says Mistal. "A key piece of SMART goals is that they're actually things you want to achieve, that make you want to get out of bed in the morning and want to accomplish them."

Here are some ideas to get you started. This is the year I...

1. Shower Every Day. Although primarily a problem for new moms and stay-at-home moms, it's also a good (if pungent) reminder for anyone who lets a daily necessity lapse into a weekly luxury. For those who have figured out how to get in your daily cleanse, think of what else you may have let slide. Manicure, weekly yoga class, deep-tissue massage, pampering comes in all forms.

2. Scream Less. Tired of hearing yourself yell at your kids? Here's a simple trick that will help you lower your voice and, by proxy, your blood pressure: Respond, don't react. Hal Runkel, best-selling author of Scream Free Parenting puts this into context: "When your kids start to unravel, lose control of themselves, essentially going crazy, that's when your calm becomes even more important."

Also, consider making date nights with each child separately. Going out with Mommy and Daddy - without her siblings is such a treat for your child. And it gives you a non-screaming memory to cherish as a family.

3. Start a Date Night. It's been said that the best thing parents can do for their children is to love one another. Preserve the sanctity (and sanity) of your marriage by establishing a regular Date Night. Start with a monthly rendezvous and once success has been achieved and enjoyed, expand from there. Even if you work it around your sitter's schedule, etch it into all of your calendars. Soon your kids will come to recognize "Parent-time" too.

4. Run a 5K. One tried-and-true tactic to achieve fitness success is to have a tangible goal -- be it a race to train for, a regular class where your presence is expected, or an adventure trip that requires you to be in decent shape. If you pick the race goal, start with a 5K, which is approximately three miles, and enjoy the journey. The euphoria of accomplishment may even generate momentum and lead you to your next fitness goal.

5. Stop the Nanny Envy. So, there's a nanny in the neighborhood you'd like to poach. She's creative and sporty and your boys are always raving about the soccer skills she once taught them. You've tried to get your own nanny to measure up, but she's lacking the endless energy your kids need right now. It's time to start interviewing new nannies. Create your job post on a site like Care.com specifically mentioning your kids' interests and see who applies. Interview them in your office cafeteria or on the weekends. You might just find Super Soccer Nanny's clone.

6. Advocate for Your Child's Education. If being class parent or joining the PTA is beyond your capabilities, know this: "There are other ways for stressed, over-worked parents to become connected to their kids' education in meaningful ways," says ML Nichols, co-founder of The Parent Connection, a Boston-based nonprofit parent-education group as well as founder of The Parent Backpack.

Scheduling a visit to your child's classroom to read a book or lead a craft project can leave a lasting impact. "It's a great way for parents to plug in and the kids love to see mom or dad in the classroom," says Nichols. "It reinforces how important education is and it sends them a great message."

Don't worry "if you can't actually get in the classroom," adds Nichols. "Just supporting the teacher and what the classroom needs through supplies -- whether it's wipes or crayons or glue sticks - is far more helpful than most of us realize."

7. Re-Connect with Your Parents. As much as we don't like to think about it, our own parents won't be around forever. (Plus, with grandkids in the picture now, we don't often get one-on-one time.) "A common regret I hear from adult children who have lost their parents is the wish that they had asked and understood more about their own family history," says Jody Gastfriend, VP of Care Management at Care.com. She offers great scrapbook or recordable ideas, including themes like piecing together their love story.

Get her ideas for creating a legacy

Find a list of great questions to ask your parents at StoryCorps. For the most heartfelt and honest results, Gastfriend recommends you "type with no agenda, just let it all unfold."

8. Start a Book Club. Or a dinner club, or a Moms' Night Out -- whatever will get you and your friends some overdue face time. One of the chapters in Runkel's Scream-Free Parenting is entitled, "Put on Your Own Oxygen Mask First," (think: airplane policy). This metaphor translates perfectly to parenting. If you don't take care of yourself, you're going to be miserable -- and a miserable mom doesn't bode well for the kind of kids you're trying to raise.

Whatever you resolve to do this year, remember, it's not about being perfect, it's about finding more happiness and feeling self-pride. Good luck and enjoy the ride.

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Comments (2)
Photo of Jennifer C.
Jennifer C.
I am so excited to have found care.com. I believe that this is a start to a better way of life and an enjoyable career. I look forward to all the new people I will meet and friendships that I will gain.
Posted: January 04, 2013 at 2:19 AM
Photo of Theresa T.
Theresa T.
Love this! Just shared it on my fb page too. Great article....and very good ideas too! Theresa, Denver, self employed through Care.com
Posted: December 09, 2011 at 9:00 PM
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