So, you're thinking about New Year's Resolutions?  

It's that time of year.  But, this year, try something new and exciting.  Instead of (or in addition to) the usual weight loss and clutter busting promises that you may or may not keep to yourself, try making a different set of priorities and commitments  that will change your life in an even more significant way:

1 -- I will get plenty of rest and seek peace.  Parents don't get enough rest just because of the nature of the job.  But, resting means a lot of things.  Rest your mind by reading a novel.  Rest your spirit by watching a sunset or meditating.  Rest your mind by chatting with friends.  Rest your body by sleeping well.  If you are rested and peaceful, you will be a better person, a better parent and a better spouse.  If you are rested and peaceful, you will be able to clearly see what is truly important to your life.

2 -- I will not overcommit myself at work or in my personal life.  This major energy zapper is often well intentioned enthusiasm.  But, learn to say no to all but the most important tasks.  Follow your passions and volunteer to do activities that you love.  But, just for a little while, trim down the excess commitments and make room for Pledge #1.

3 -- I will not yell at my children.  Just make the decision to speak calmly at all times.  Regardless of what happens, regardless of the children's escalating voices, regardless of incessant whining and begging, you can make the decision to be calm and rational and communicate kindly with your children.  If you need help learning how to do this through finding new ways to parent, managing household chaos or personal issues of your own, pursue help.  The benefit of making this decision for yourself will have life altering effects for the mental health of you and your entire family.

4 -- I will play with my children.  Parenting is not all about managing the household, making transitions, cleaning and getting ready to go somewhere.  Take a deep breath.  Sit down away from all of the laundry and dishes and read to your child.  Play a game.  Play with all of those little horses and Barbies with your child.  Listen to your child.  Follow the child's lead.  Dance.  Sing.  Swing.

5 - I will make time for my spouse.  The most important investment that you can make in your child's healthy emotional future is to model a loving, happy and laughter filled relationship with your spouse.  Schedule dates and quiet time.  Settle disputes gracefully.  Make time to play.  Accept help from others so you and your spouse can rediscover each other.  Remember why you fell in love in the first place.

6 - I will check myself for signs of depression and anxiety that may interfere with the above mentioned pledges.  Despite your best intentions, you may have some difficulty changing negative habits.  If this happens, figure out whether you truly are having a hard time changing your habits or whether something is holding you back from making positive changes, like depression or anxiety.  Be honest with yourself.  Get help if you need it.

Author's Bio: 

Stacey Brown is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor specializing in individual, couples and family psychotherapy, and maintains a private practice in Fort Myers, Florida.

With more than 15 years of experience as a clinician, and a graduate of the University of South Florida specializing in Solution Focused and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, she is currently serving as a private practitioner working with a broad spectrum of clients. Among her areas of expertise are: ADHD, depression and anxiety for both children and adults, grief and loss, and relationship issues.
In addition, Stacey Brown has presented at conferences and to general audiences on topics ranging from parenting, wellness, educational accommodations, teacher training, behavior management and mental health topics.

Stacey Brown is a practical, interactive, solution-focused therapist. Her treatment approach is to provide support and practical feedback to help clients resolve current problems and long-standing patterns. She incorporates a blend of conventional and alternatives approaches, drawing upon a variety of styles and techniques to incorporate what will be most helpful for each client. With sensitivity and compassion, she works with each client to help them build on their strengths to identify and achieve life goals.

Licensed Mental Health Counselor
Nationally Certified Counselor
Certified Cognitive Behavioral Therapist
Certified Anger Resolution Therapist
Board Certified Expert in Traumatic Stress
State Approved Clinical Supervisor
40 Barkley Circle, Suite 3
Ft. Myers, FL 33907