The 5 New Year’s resolutions to try for calmer parenting in 2024 (and #4 may be harder to do than you think)

New Year's resolutions are a fun habit, try these expert approved ones

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New Year's resolutions can be your chance to make small changes for a big impact. And, let's be honest no one likes being the 'shouty parent' so these five mum and expert-approved New Year's resolutions might help you to recognise that you are enough, regulate your emotions, and make for a calmer life.

I'm Kirsty, a former nanny and mum-of-two and I know that mistakes are there to learn from, not to dwell on – they are the gateway to personal change and success. And, making New Year's resolutions allows you to move past the parenting moments that may not have been your finest (we've all been there), and focus on creating positive changes for a calmer parenting life in 2024.

Family Editor at GoodtoKnkow, Stephanie Lowe agrees, she tells me; "My New Year's resolutions, before kids, were always about giving up alcohol or learning a new skill like how to bake, now it's how to regulate my emotions, or how to show up for my kid in a calmer way. Parenting is hard, not because I'm 'doing it wrong', but because it just is... hard."

It can be difficult to know where to start, so to make it easier, I share my five parenting resolutions - give them a try.

5 New Year's resolutions for parents

1. Be a (little more) organised

This doesn't come naturally to everyone and it's a tale as old as time, but organisation can help clear your mind. Use a family planner, a separate diary, or your smart speaker to help you keep on top of your parent admin (there's a lot of it). Often, chaos ensues when we haven’t planned or been organised, so while you don’t have to become militant about it, some simple organisation can go a long way to help you feel less overwhelmed and create some calm. Getting organised on a week-by-week or day-by-day basis can be a godsend. 

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“Plan, plan, plan.” Rhian Thompson mum-of-two and founder of Bibevie, recommends. “I always make sure that I’ve got the next day clothes and breakfast things set out the night before and the kid’s tea cooking before I pick them up. I have a weekly planner on our wall with all our food, snacks, and activities on it so that my husband and I both know what is happening and when. It minimises the faff and stress.”

2. Spend some time on yourself (it's not selfish)

Mums especially, are notorious for leaving themselves last on the list when it comes to self-care, but taking some time to focus on your own needs really will help, as mum-of-three, psychotherapist and author of The Little Book of Calm (RRP £12.99, Amazon) for New Mums, Anna Mathur tells us. “Often, the moments in which your ‘calm’ goes out of the window, might feel random, but in fact often, it’s the culmination of a progressive build-up of pressure or a slow depletion of your resources.” As illustrated on her Instagram page;

Anna explains “Imaging holding a big, dry sponge under the tap. As it becomes saturated and drenched with water, it can’t hold any more. The water pours from the sponge as quickly as it is being filled. Now, you are this sponge. As you become saturated with all the demands of family life, as you become overwhelmed, as you absorb the emotions of those around you, things spill out of you in an uncontrolled way, right? You get upset about something that wouldn’t usually irritate you, or your desired parenting approach feels impossible to grasp.”

“When we are stressed and depleted, it is far harder to respond to our children and circumstances calmly. But there is something that can help! The way to find more calm in your life, is to recognise that the more you absorb, the more you need to release - to squeeze your sponge in a more controlled way, so that the water doesn’t just spill out of its own accord.”

“As you grow in awareness of your own limits and needs, and take steps to meet them, then you’ll feel more able to respond calmly in stressful situations with your children.” This sound advice from Anna will really make all the difference and she tells us that there are three easy steps to achieving it:

  1. Ask yourself, ‘what am I saturated with right now? What am I full of?’ E.g I’m full to the brim with social interaction. I’m saturated by all the noise around me
  2. What is the opposite of that which you are full of? Now, that is your antidote. E.g. The opposite to social interaction is solitude. The opposite to noise is quiet
  3. Consider how you can find some of what you need in order to release that feeling of saturation E.g. I need some time on my own. I’m going to head out for a walk tomorrow morning. I need some quiet, so I’ll head to bed a little earlier to absorb the stillness.”

3. Remind yourself that 'good enough is enough'

Striving to achieve someone else’s idea of perfection can be easy to do, however there is no ‘one-size fits all’ approach when it comes to parenting and therefore, being good enough, is just that – good enough.  You can still meet all your child’s needs most of the time, but it means you can allow some flexibility for the real world – you know, those days when you’re not firing on all cylinders and its Bluey on repeat and ‘Freezer Tapas’ for tea?

Illustrator, and mum of three under 10, Stacie Swift agrees, “When I take the pressure off it helps to calm things down in our house.” She tells us. “When I am striving for things to be ‘just so’, it quickly ramps up all the stress for everyone. Letting go of self-expectation and not trying to do too much helps us all.”

If social media is a sore point, limit your time scrolling and tune in to a podcast instead. Ones like Happy Mum, Happy Baby and The Motherkind Podcast talk about the realities of parenting and are far more relatable and helpful than what you might see on your daily scroll.

4. Carve out intentional time with the kids

As a rule, parents are usually time-poor, so it's understandable that spending time to play can be hard to commit to. But, its so easy to be present without really being present - don't feel bad about this, it's so easy to do and you're not alone in it.  When you commit to carving out some - literally 25-30 minutes - quality and uninterrupted time, that's no phones, emails other conversations etc,  to spending solely focussed on your children it will be of huge benefit to everyone in the family. 

Just 30 minutes a day can be enough for your child to feel connected with you, which in turn will keep their emotional cup nicely topped up, leading to a happier, more content, and calmer child and parent.

5. Knock alcohol on the head

This could be a tough one as alcohol really has become a popular and widely-accepted coping mechanism for parents. However, cutting back or giving up alcohol altogether can have hugely positive effects, as Mum of 10-year-old twins and founder of Nontoxicated App, Lisa Marie Godfrey, reveals. “It sounds counter-intuitive as a glass or two of wine can make you feel as if it’s providing stress relief, but instead, try a glass of alcohol-free fizz and you are likely to experience:

  • More restful sleep
  • Finding it easier to get up for the school run
  • Finding bedtime more enjoyable because you’re not itching to uncork the bottle
  • More patience with your children”

Family Editor at Goodto.com, Stephanie Lowe who is almost two years sober, agrees. "The 'mummy wine' culture is huge and a widely-accepted narrative that we 'need alcohol' to parent, and I bought into it. When actually, parenting without it is a game changer. 

"I'm sleeping better, my energy levels are higher, my purse is fuller. I got to a stage in life - five bottles a week - where alcohol was taking more from me than it was giving. Sober parenting is the one."

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Kirsty Ketley
Parenting Expert

Kirsty is a qualified early years practitioner and parenting consultant with a wealth of knowledge and experience from over 22 years of working with families and children from birth to the teenage years. Kirsty's career has seen her work in a variety of roles, from children's holiday rep and nursery nurse to over 16 years working as a daily nanny.