I don’t make New Year’s resolutions. Instead, I set New Year’s goals. IMHO, resolutions are made to be broken. “I resolve to go to the gym more.” “I resolve to lose weight.” “I resolve to go on a diet.” I mean, come on – who even talks like that?

And besides, what happens when the inevitable comes to pass, and you’re not living up to your resolution? Yet another excuse to feel you’re falling short somewhere, somehow not managing to keep all the balls in the air at once.

And let’s face it, motherhood – for all its joys and rewards, whether you spend your days at home with the kiddos, or entrust them to the care of others while you bring home the bacon – is already full of days when you watch one ball after another fall out of the sky and roll away from you. And more often than not, you know that ball’s gonna lodge itself behind the far back corner of the sofa. Way back amid the dust bunnies that have accumulated over all the spring cleanings you’ve missed since becoming a mama. In other words, in a place that’s darn near impossible to reach.

Who needs another ball to juggle?

Not me. I’ll take New Year’s goals – something to work toward, one day at a time, and maybe attain – over something that you either do (success!) or don’t (failure!) any day.

New Year's Resolutions are made to be broken. Try setting New Year's Goals instead; it's much more realistic for this busy mama, and more likely to succeed.

New Year’s Resolutions New Year’s Goals

I made this mental shift around the time I became a mama, and it’s done wonders to take the pressure off. Even better, I seem to have more to show for my efforts than when I made resolutions.

For example, there was the year I figured out that Kimmie (who’d just turned two) was getting to the age when kids repeat everything you say, saving the juiciest bits of gossip for the most inappropriate times. Goal: No more gossip, ever. With the looming fear of what would happen if I didn’t meet this goal always in front of me, that goal has long since become a habit, I’m happy to report – and my firstborn now has one less way to embarrass me.

So here is my goal for the new year: I will work on reducing my stress and increasing my calm in my daily life. I will try to step back from Stressed Mommy and embrace a new persona as Calm Mommy.

I have taken a multi-pronged approach: I’m back to doing yoga at the gym, one morning a week. (Heck, I’m back to the gym! – funny how that always falls off the radar around the holidays, between travel and everyone being sick at some point.) I’m making a conscious effort to have the kids’ breakfasts prepared and on the table before I even roll them out of bed – eliminates a lot of crying from the toddler (who’s always starving the moment she gets up) and arguing from the preschooler, who changes her mind ten times over if I ask her what she wants to eat.

And most of all, I’m trying to use my Calm Voice at all times.

The Calm Voice

I discovered my Calm Voice by accident last weekend, when I was too exhausted to do anything else. It seemed to have an almost hypnotic effect on my girls. I have a reputation in my family as a drama queen, and it’s clearly a behavior my daughters are learning to mimic. But this week, instead of my voice rising in pitch and volume every time I ask Kimmie to, say, put on her coat for school, I made my request in a calm, low, almost quiet voice.

And amazingly, I found myself having to ask fewer times! Magic. Rather than the shrill, high-pitched character my voice can take on when I’m stressed, my voice is now the voice of Zen.

If only I can keep it in the Zen Zone every time I open my mouth. It still feels pretty weird, but it’s hard to argue with the results: fewer tantrums, more cooperation, and so on. If that’s not a stress-busting motivator, then I don’t know what is!

New Year's Resolutions are made to be broken. Try setting New Year's Goals instead; it's much more realistic for this busy mama, and more likely to succeed.

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