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Betsy Kerekes shares a few ideas for 2022 parenting goals, plus tips for keeping those resolutions.

Tis the season to talk about New Year Resolutions. I say, enough with “losing weight,” “cleaning the garage,” and “drinking less wine.” Let’s instead come up with concrete goals. Resolutions tend to be nebulous and easily abandoned. If we make goals, we can more easily check them off to bolster motivation through completion. And if we don’t reach our goals in a particular time frame, we can extend or adjust as needed.

Here are a few ideas for being a better, happier parent while working toward sanctity for oneself and one’s family. Please take, leave, use, and adjust as works best for you. Perhaps some of these will inspire other ideas. Write them down before you forget!


toys in a donation box


Clean the clutter.

Two years ago, my family started the habit of beginning a new year fresh by scouring the house for all unnecessary objects, outgrown clothes, not-played-with-in-forever toys, and everything that falls under the categories of “I didn’t know we still had this” and “When and why did we even get this?” Once all nooks and crannies, closets and cupboards were purged of fluff and non-essentials, those items were donated to Goodwill, a pregnancy center (in the case of baby and toddler clothing or leftover diapers and wipes), or some other equivalent location. The joy and relief of such a cleanse is real, lemme tell ya.


mother and child holding a Rosary and Bible


Step up the devotions.

Now is a good time to take stock of your spiritual life. Mass once a week? Can you try for two? If two, are three doable? Seven? Same goes for a family Rosary. Is it happening? Can it happen more? Are you doing any spiritual reading? Do your kids have age-appropriate saint books to read? Can you encourage them to read one a week?

Set goals for yourself and your family accordingly. We should all be striving to grow in our prayer life, not stagnate.


mom and child playing with a balloon


Play with your kids more.

I’m not going to say "they grow up so fast." You already know that, and you’ve heard it 15 billion times. But, uh, spend time with your kids while you still can. I admit that I stink at this, especially the younger they are because the games are more annoying. Legos I can tolerate for a while, but Chutes and Ladders is purgatory, as far as I’m concerned (which pretty much lands me on the giant chute from the top to the bottom, I know). Furthermore, I always have something to do, that I need to do (dinner, laundry, and what have you) or that I’d simply rather do. (Check social media? That’s an important use of my time right there. Yes, heavy sarcasm.)

But from my 4-year-old’s perspective, playing with Mom is the best thing ever (or ought to be, I mean, come on), so I need to set my phone down, slide my rear off the couch, and get on the floor with my little rug rat. Perhaps my goal is once a day to do this. When he asks, and if I really truly am not in the middle of something that has to be done right then, I will stop what I’m doing and play with him.


family at dinner


Family meals--just do it.

I know this is a challenge for people with kids in sports. (If you’ve read Be a Happier Parent or Laugh Trying, you know this isn’t my family’s thing, but I understand athletic people do exist in the world.) If family meals have fallen by the wayside because of games, practices, tournaments, and so on, I get it. Well, I mean, I don’t literally get it due to the aforementioned non-athleticism, but I can get how this could be a problem for some. Or it could be that you have social lives. (Another thing I don’t understand. Ha. Kidding … mostly). In any case, don’t let a child go to a friend’s for dinner if it’s the one night that week where you can all be home together. Keep Sunday dinners sacrosanct, for instance.

Maybe you’re already great at this, so if meals aren’t an issue, try instilling family game night. Little ones can partner with bigger ones, or if the little ones are too disruptive, let the games begin when the youngers are in bed. Movie nights can also be a thing, but there’s far less family interaction with those. (I have an entire chapter devoted to fun things to do with kids in that one book I mentioned earlier, fyi.)


checklist and pencil


And finally, this one is a gimme: Keep yourself honest.

Keep a notebook, or use a calendar or phone app of some sort where you list your goals for the day, week, month and check them off when you complete them. The checking off part is important. For starters, what a glorious sense of accomplishment you receive, and secondly, you can easily apprise where you may be failing in your goals. Do you need to step it up, schedule a specific time each day or week to accomplish said goal? Or perhaps it’s time to face reality and adjust—slightly. You’ll feel far better if you go for fervency rather than laxity here.


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5 ideas for being a better, happier parent while working toward sanctity for oneself and one’s family. #catholicmom

You know that rush you get when you’ve completed a run or a set of crunches, or whatever your exercise of choice? Maybe for you it comes from stepping away from that alluring cookie and grabbing for a carrot stick instead. (I so feel you on that.) Whatever makes you feel awesome, REMEMBER IT in a moment of weakness. Remind yourself that you can do hard things. You’re a MOTHER, for goodness sakes. Doing hard things is pretty much your default setting. So, when a moment of weakness finds you, as it most definitely will, and you’re tempted to shirk one of these goals, pull your shoulders back, and plow ahead anyway because you’re a warrior, you know you can do this, and you look forward to being rewarded with that great sense of accomplishment when you do. Picture your favorite person in Heaven smiling down on you, perhaps with a nod or a thumbs up when you overcome whatever lazy “I deserve a break” inclination you’re struggling with. Isn’t that worth it?

Now go write up your goals and have yourself an awesome year!

P.S. If you do have fitness goals and are a beginner, might I recommend ankle and wrist weights and perhaps starting with five-pound dumbbells you lift aimlessly while watching TV at night? Easy and relatively painless. Then build from there.

Copyright 2022 Betsy Kerekes
Images: Canva Pro