Mama, just because it’s a new year doesn’t mean you need to be a ‘new you’

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It’s that time of year again: Time for a new year. Or so we’re told. Really, nobody has a good concept of time, least of all moms who are pregnant, nursing, waking up with toddlers or kids throughout the night or trying to coexist with their teenagers. In our disoriented post-holiday daze, it’s hard to welcome a new year with much enthusiasm. Yes, the new calendar year will come whether we welcome it or not. 

But, what about the rather unwelcome messages to start a new diet, re-organize our homes, be “better,” be “more” and be a “new” you? I say we cancel “new year, new you” in 2022. This doesn’t mean we don’t change or create healthier habits or acknowledge what has been harmful or unhelpful the past 12 months. What it can mean is that we don’t start another year already feeling guilty for not meeting unrealistic goals, expectations and standards set forth by society for women and mothers when every family, home and life circumstance is so vastly unique. 

Rather than making a list of New Year’s resolutions that induce shame, why not try a gentler approach? Why not make small, actionable, achievable goals

Instead of “organize the whole house,” maybe start with one room or project a month… 

Instead of “join a gym,” try walking for 15 to 30 minutes each day… 

Instead of “quit social media,” you could read for 10 minutes before bed or journal instead of scroll… 

Instead of “diet/eat healthier,” start with healthy swaps for one meal a day…

And, better yet, what about a list of things to anticipate and hope for instead of a list of things you have to change about yourself.  What can you look forward to this year? Maybe it’s a new book release, an annual trip with friends, a small town festival, a movie you’ve been waiting to see or the flowers or berries that grow once a year in that place you like. 

By focusing on habits to fill your cup this year, you’re truly giving yourself the best start to 2022.

Science shows our levels of fulfillment and happiness are higher while we anticipate an event—even more so than when the actual event takes place. Hack it by mixing big things and small things to look forward to throughout the year. 

This is the magic and beauty of one of many things mothers do for their children. We build their excitement and give them things to look forward to: birthday parties, play dates, trips to the pool or zoo, ice cream and movie nights, playing at the park. What if we did the same thing for ourselves this year?

By focusing on habits to fill your cup this year, you’re truly giving yourself the best start to 2022. Because, I don’t know about you, mama, but after a year of bad news headlines and dreadfully awaiting what comes next, I think we deserve a year where we are hopefully looking forward to things. 

Instead of demanding change from ourselves in an ever-changing and demanding world, what about letting ourselves come into growth and change naturally? Let’s travel gently into the new year together. 

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