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Advice / Succeeding at Work / Work-Life Balance

5 Perfect Resolutions for Career-Loving Parents

On December 31, 2012, I nursed my two-week old son and made a single resolution: Survive the first year of parenthood. And now, just over one year later, I’m proud to say that, perhaps for the first time in my life, I stuck to my new year’s resolution.

This year, I’ve found that my list of resolutions fall into two camps: the usual post-holiday suspects, like vowing to run a faster 5K and eat less junk, and the supermom wish list, like resolving to take my son to the playground despite the cold weather. Liz O’Donnell, Huffington Post contributor and author of Mom, Mogul, and Maid, offers this list of resolutions, which encourages working mothers to focus on tackling a few practical resolutions, because “while we can have it all, we can’t do it all.”

In the spirit of O’Donnell’s piece, here are the five resolutions I’ll be focusing on this year as I exit my rookie year and my son enters (gulp) toddlerhood.

1. Focus on Health, Not Weight

I’m proud to say that I successfully lost all of the baby weight within a few months of having my son, but I can’t say that I’ve been a portrait of good health this year. Because of my busy schedule and my son’s preference to eat dinner around the same time as the senior citizen early bird special, I often made a healthy meal for him and then snacked on whatever junk I could find hours later. And while I exercised regularly, I was concerned about burning calories and blasting off those last few pounds, not about building strength.

This year, I want my exercise to result in a healthier, stronger body that will support me as I get older. And I’ll try to eat a bit healthier by refraining from snacking on junk that I wouldn’t let my son eat. If I know it’s unhealthy for him, why would I eat it myself?

2. Savor the Everyday Pleasures

Before I was a parent, I often looked forward to life events that spanned big chunks of time: three-day weekends, destination weddings, or week-long vacations.

What I’ve learned, though, is that these types of arbitrary “breaks” don’t mean anything to my son. Playing with him for 30 minutes after work, taking him to the park for an hour before the sun sets, or even reading a book with him for 10 minutes in the morning means just as much to him as would an extended holiday. Focusing on reconnecting as a family every day, even if it’s just for a few minutes, is just as valuable.

Likewise, instead of wishing I had a spa retreat every few months, I’ve learned that taking 15 minutes every day to enjoy a cup of coffee (alone!) while my husband handles bathtime can be just as energizing. This year, I’ll try to savor those moments and make them a daily priority.


3. Become a More Moderate Photographer

I tend to go months without taking a photo of my son and then become his personal paparazzi for a few weeks. I’m always bouncing between the extremes, but this year I’d like to establish a more balanced photography schedule. Am I going to take a photo, write a diary-entry from his perspective, and paste it into an elaborately decorated scrapbook every day? No. But I will set some type of realistic goal, like uploading one quality picture to Shutterfly every week.

If you’re on the other end of the spectrum, watching nearly every moment of your child’s life through your iPhone lens, try being more present in the moment and cutting down to one photo a day.

4. Adjust Social Media Use

I’m not going to give up Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, or Pinterest. I use those platforms personally and professionally, and they are a part of my life. And I know that my son will grow up in a world where “social media” is simply media, an everyday way of consuming information and connecting with people.

So, instead of attempting to set arbitrary limits on the amount of tweets I send each day, I’ll be modifying my use based on how I’d like my son to engage with social media (once he’s much, much older). For example, my husband and I will establish and self-enforce “social media free” times—like meals and family outings. I’ll cleanse my friends list of people I have no true interest in maintaining communication with and remove those last few incriminating photos from college. I hope that adjusting—and simply being aware of—my habits will make a difference in my son’s use down the road.

5. If All Else Fails, De-clutter

Keeping a spotless house can and should fall to the bottom of the list, with a career to develop and a child to cuddle. This time of year, an endless number of companies are peddling their cleaning and organizational tools, apps, and programs, but I’ve decided to save myself some time and just start throwing crap away. Clearing my home of outgrown toys and un-used gadgets makes Sunday chores seems much less overwhelming. And by making this an annual resolution, one that I renew each year, I hope to teach my son about charitable giving, too.

If your kids are old enough to understand the concept of resolutions, share yours with them, and encourage them to make their own. But also spend some time reflecting on all that you (and they) accomplished in 2013. Appreciating what you’ve done together as a family will help you all stay on track in 2014, and kids are surprisingly apt at keeping their parents accountable.

Image of working mother courtesy of Shutterstock.