In 2013, parents resolve to...
Amy Flood has always been terrified of bees. Now, in her 30s, and a parent in the San Francisco Bay area, she tells folks she’s allergic to them—even though she’s not— to explain why a grown-up freaks out over some bees at an office picnic or avoids the playground with her toddler.
This year, though, Flood vows to get past her fear of bees— for her 2-year old son.
Whether it’s making peace with bees or putting down the iPhone, parents everywhere are resolving to do better in 2013, in ways big and small.
Flood’s fear has gotten so bad she’s ceded almost all park time to her husband, just in case a yellow jacket appears while she’s pushing little Alex on the swings.
“He loves the park,” says Flood, who feels increasingly guilty about her bee-phobia. “First approach: I am going to research bees so I can identify a friendly bumblebee versus an aggressive wasp,” she explains. It’s a mind game, she says, that she’s determined to win in 2013.
Flood’s husband, Neil Cohen, has set his own challenges for the New Year. Embarking on his new role as a stay-at-home parent and daddy blogger, he’s determined to learn how to make “healthy, edible dinners for the family.”
“Neither one of us does the cooking at this point,” Cohen says. “But I feel it’s really important for us to try to eat a meal together as a family, which I feel like is my responsibility since Amy works full-time.”
Experts agree that New Year’s is the perfect time for parents to take stock of their parenting strengths and weaknesses, and make meaningful changes. But psychotherapist and TODAY contributor Stacy Kaiser warns that “big, lofty goals” are almost always impossible to achieve. For instance, resolving to spend an hour a night reading to your kids is pretty tough in the long run. Instead, Kaiser says, if you want to give yourself a good chance of keeping your parenting resolution past February, make it “easier and bite sized”— like resolving to read more to your kids on the weekends.
Eric Corpus, a parenting and lifestyle blogger in New York City, has a pretty manageable resolution in mind for 2013 — but one that he hopes will result in a big parenting pay off.
“I need to start teaching my 5-year-old son how to play the guitar,” he says. “I’ve been playing for 20 years, so we don’t have to hire an instructor.” And Corpus believes that playing guitar together will be a bond they’ll share for a lifetime.
His wife and co-blogger, Laura Corpus, has a different twist on quality time.
“In the coming year,” she says, “I want to make it a priority to do meaningful things apart from the kids so that I can be more fully present when I am with them.” In 2013, she plans to focus on her pastel artwork, and carve out from 2 a.m. to 9 a.m., when “nobody else needs her,” to make her painting a priority. (Yes, that's right, 2 a.m. Apparently sleep won't be a big priority in 2013!)
Corpus isn’t alone in her desire to strike the right balance between work, family and personal time. In a hyper-wired world, many parents say they want to be more “in the moment” with their children this year. Putting down the smart phone and listening a little more closely to those little voices is a common parenting resolution for 2013— for both “ordinary” and high-profile moms alike.
“There are so many distractions,” says Kelly Rutherford, actress, philanthropist, and mom to 6-year-old Hermes and 3-year-old Helena. “In many ways, parenting is patience. For me, it’s about working on really listening and being present in the New Year.”
Emily Giffin, author of six New York Times best-selling novels, including “Where We Belong” and "Something Borrowed" and mom to 9-year old twins Edward and George and 5-year-old Harriet says she wants to spend less time watching her life through the lens of her camera — and more time actually living it.
Like many of us who feel our kiddos are growing up too fast, she’s constantly reaching for her iPhone to take photos. But Giffin says, this year, she wants to spend more time experiencing what’s happening right in front of her, even if that means missing the perfect shot.
So what’s the best way for parents to start unplugging in the New Year? Slowly, says technology expert and Parents.com blogger Leticia Barr, who tells parents to start small when it comes to parenting resolutions. Instead of throwing away your phone and going off the grid, try baby steps toward technological disconnect.
“For example, instead of having your phone with you at the dinner table,” she says, “put it somewhere inconvenient, where you don’t feel it buzzing or ringing for a little while.”
According to Barr, if you start with an hour or so away from your email, you’ll realize that it’s possible, and then you can evaluate how much you can really unplug based on your personal situation.
For Janice D’Arcy, who started the Washington Post’s On Parenting column two years ago, 2013 is about a lot more than just putting down her phone. As of December 31, she’s officially saying goodbye to her job, and has resolved to cut “way back on professional pursuits and her daughters’ extracurricular activities.”
D’Arcy says her resolution to “un-cram” her family’s lives has something to do with the tragic school shootings in Newtown. “Yes, I know it’s an illogical, maybe not even a healthy response,” she says. “But I’m hoping to enjoy my 3- and 5-year olds while they’re still in these magical, frustrating, learning stages.”
And add one more thing to her resolution list. 2013 is also the year she’s going to learn how to cook with her two little girls. They’re going to master making ratatouille — and eat it as a family.
TODAY contributor Jacoba Urist, the New York City mom of a 3-year-old, resolves to spend more time in 2013 surfing actual waves and less time on the internet.