New Year’s Resolutions for New Parents
What is it about the start of a new calendar year that makes us want to improve some aspect of our lives? It could be our tendency toward reflection and introspection at the end of each year and the time we spend with friends and family to ring in a new one around this time. Of course, with so many New Year’s resolutions focusing on health, our less-than-stellar holiday season eating habits might have a lot to say about this trend, too.
If you were lucky enough to bring a new child into the world this year, you’re probably doubling down on that classic year-end self-reflection, particularly as it concerns your newborn. We all want the best life possible for our kids, but it’s often hard to remember just how much that depends on our own health and happiness. So if you have a resolution in mind for yourself or your baby this year, make it count by sticking to a plan.
SMART resolutions for parents
Setting a New Year’s resolution for yourself is a longstanding tradition in many cultures, but today it’s often the butt of jokes. After all, research has shown that out of the millions of people who resolve to accomplish something in the New Year, around one-third can be expected to have abandoned that goal as early as February. According to a guide from The New York Times, the high failure rate of resolutions often boils down to three critical weaknesses:
- The goal is based on cultural norms and expectations, not something you actually want to change.
- The goal is not specific enough.
- You don’t have a plan in place for achieving the goal and measuring your progress toward attainment.
There’s no shame in failure, but too many New Year’s resolutions aren’t set up to succeed. If you want to have a better shot at actually meeting that resolution, apply a proven strategy that you’ve probably heard of: the SMART goal.
If you’re unfamiliar with the term, SMART is an acronym for well-planned goals that are:
To illustrate this method, take a resolution many of us have tried (and failed at) year after year: “I want to lose weight.” By making this a SMART goal, that resolution grows into a concrete action plan:
- “I want to lose at least one pound per month through diet and exercise.”
- “I will measure and track my weight each morning using a bathroom scale and a notebook.”
- “I will research weight loss and ask my doctor to find out if this goal is realistic.”
- “I want to lose weight not just because it will make me look better but because it will make me healthier and happier.”
- “I will stick to a diet and exercise schedule and keep track of it over time to meet my goal.”
The SMART goal planning method is applicable to almost any New Year’s resolution imaginable, making it a useful tool for those who want something to brag about next year. Take time to think your goal through, write it down and wake up on January 1 ready to tackle it.
New Year’s resolutions for babies and parents
Our youngest family members are still working on walking and talking, so getting a newborn to come up with his or her own SMART goal might be a lot to ask. But there are still many ways parents can set up their new son or daughter for a great new year, even if it’s only their first or second one ever. But again, they will rely on their parents to see that they meet these goals in 2018 and for years to come.
The first several months of a child’s life are perhaps the most crucial of all for their development into healthy individuals. For the best results, parents need to maintain a high level of vigilance into their newborn’s health while following the advice of a trusted pediatrician. Commit to bringing your infant child to every regular health checkup on time, as these are more frequent at the beginning of their lives. Be sure to keep track of your child’s health progress and any questions or concerns you might have. Don’t hesitate to bring a notebook and prepare some questions in advance of every doctor visit.
Babies have their own ways of showing gratitude when their parents are keeping them healthy, but their grasp of financial health is less sound. Everyone should take steps to plan a budget and save for surprise expenses, but a new baby can make these tasks more difficult. According to NerdWallet, new parents should keep their budget plans mostly intact once a baby arrives without losing sight of long-term goals. If you haven’t already, commit to building an emergency fund to pay for unexpected medical bills and other things that keep life stable in your new, growing family.
For any one goal, everyone’s plan to achieve it will be different. Keep this advice in mind as you celebrate the new year with your new bundle of joy.
Andrew Morrell is a writer based in Chicago. He enjoys reading and writing about a wide variety of topics, from health to financial planning. Otherwise, he’s into fun things too, like fostering kittens and exploring the city.