Last fall, my husband, kids and I packed into a newly-purchased RV and set out to see the country. We committed to spending 8 weeks on the road, but we’ve now been traveling for four months, spending 24/7 together. The trip has been amazing, but it’s also made me think about my approach to parenting and how our family functions as a unit. It has left me with some pretty clear ideas of where we have room for improvement.
Not all families have embarked on something as wild as an 11,000-mile road trip, but nearly all families experienced significant change in 2020. Whether it was adapting to working from home, navigating the anxieties of a pandemic, or adjusting to not seeing friends and family, 2020 challenged all of us.
So it’s no surprise that in 2021, many families are thinking about their goals, and what they’d like to change. Here’s the family goal that I’m working on.
Listen To and Honoring The Kids’ Feelings
I’m a loving and compassionate mom, but I’m also a bit old school. Others might say strict. I expect my kids to have a certain respect for adults and to know that — while their opinion does matter — the parents are ultimately the decision makers in our family.
Being on the road has tested that a bit. If we wake up and one of the kids is overtired, cranky or just in a mood there’s little point in expecting them to buck up for a day of travel or sight seeing. We’re much better off just giving the kids a chance to rest and rejuvenate. This year, I’m working on acknowledging that the kids’ feelings are valid and important too, and I need to give them some space when they need it.
Go On More Adventures
Right now we’re on a massive adventure. Doing something so wild has shown us how unadventurous we were in our typical lives. We’d go on walks or hikes frequently, but usually within our region. It was easy to convince ourselves that day trips were too much hassle.
Now that we’ve shaken up the norm, I’ve seen how easy and exciting it is to explore somewhere new. We won’t be doing many indoor activities until we’ve been vaccinated, but once we get home we’ll definitely be making more effort to explore new places, even if it’s just to walk down a new trail.
Make Time For Creativity
Like most kids, my girls love to draw and paint. Sometimes it’s nice to get things done while they’re entertained, but this year I’m also encouraging myself to join in. Like many moms, I’m constantly pressuring myself to be productive, so sitting and doodling or painting without focusing on my to-do list is a challenge.
But I’ve realized it’s well worth it. When I join my kids in their activity, we can have natural conversations or just sit in silence. Plus, doing art with the kids is relaxing, lets me tap into my creativity and gives me a chance to unwind.
Be Gentle With Ourselves
Last year was a doozie, and even with a vaccine on the horizon 2021 is likely to be a stressful year too. That’s why I’m making an effort to be gentle with myself and my family. Could my first-grader be doing more homeschool? Sure. Could I be spending more time meditating or exercising? Definitely. Is this the year to worry about always pushing ourselves to do better and better? Probably not.
In 2021, I’m ok being good enough. My kids are happy enough, my family is adventurous enough, my marriage is healthy enough. And after unprecedented change, challenge and worry I’m happy with that. I’ll be here as a gentle landing place for my family, while we get through.
So, mamas, what are your family goals for 2021? Tell me here.
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We’ll promise you one thing: it will be an adventure.