New Year's resolutions are all around, and I'm surrounded by people with lofty goals to improve themselves.
Some of my friends want to get fitter, some want to live more intentionally, and others want to learn a new skill. Certainly, in some areas of my life – like my work – I feel that same pull towards doing greater things over the coming months.
In my parenting, however, my goals for this year are very different. In fact, it's fair to say that I want to learn to be a worse parent.
Who needs to be worse at something? I hear you ask. The answer is: perfectionists like me.
I've aimed towards an upwards trajectory in my parenting. I'm not perfect, but it's not for a lack of trying – and I've tried so hard towards that perfection that I've experienced utter burnout. Limitless patience, no yelling, and doing all the hard work so my kids can play endlessly all sound great, yet I've reached a strange state through these efforts. It's called martyrdom.
And it's time to stop.
Perfectionism isn't always a conscious effort; after a lifetime of it, it can be a subconscious state. This idea to become a worse parent is actually going to take its fair share of mindfulness and going against many instincts I hold.
So why do it? Because at its core, trying to be perfect is complete bulls**t. It's inauthentic, unsustainable and just plain exhausting, particularly when dealing with little people for 24 hours a day.
A different approach is going to be important for my own wellbeing, and that must become a priority. Einstein apparently said, "The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results". Who can argue with one of the cleverest brains the world has ever seen?
So, if eight years of taking one approach hasn't worked, then it's time to try something new – or risk total insanity.
I'll be aiming lower in my parenting standards this year, and trying to accept that good enough is good enough. I want to:
Let down my guard
It's time for me to be me, and not just a parent – and for my kids to see that.
Let my kids solve their own problems
It's an important life skill.
Sleep in on the occasional weekend
The kids are old enough to get their own breakfast.
If we all share the dirty work then we all have more time for the fun stuff.
Sign fewer school notes
No more searching through school bags for scrunched up notices. The kids need to know that if they don't put a note under my nose and ask for a signature, then it won't get done.
Leave the floors dirty
Someone else will do it eventually, right?
Send them outside
Just how every parenting interaction was solved in the '80s.