Illustration: Naomi Wilkinson

Up With The Kids: New Year’s resolutions for tired parents

Robyn Wilder rouses from her Christmas torpor to contemplate how to be Her Best Self in 2019 while parenting

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By Robyn Wilder on

Hello and welcome to the first Up With The Kids column of 2019! I tend to be in denial about Christmas being over, but now that it’s Twelfth Night, the decorations are slowly coming down and all that’s left in the bottom of the chocolate box are the coffee creams and hard toffees, even I have to face reality.

So, what’s a good thing to do when you’ve left your brain gently simmering in Baileys for a week, you’re 25% goose fat, it’s cold and wet outside and you can’t remember any of your work logins? Put loads of pressure on yourself to be The Very Best Possible Version Of Yourself, of course! So, hoik up that optimistic sports bra, grab a mug of hot water, lemon and despair, and allow me to tell you about my resolutions for 2019.

I will have one solo poo a week

I don’t care what it takes. A gauntlet of stair gates to entrap both the toddler and the preschooler. A series of mirrors. Some sort of walkie-talkie device via which I can assure them both that, in the great scheme of things, it doesn’t matter if one of them snatches the other’s toy and that they don’t, in fact, need to check if I’m OK, sit on my lap while I’m on the toilet or comment at length on the size, colour or consistency of what I produce there.

I will give up sleep for charity

I haven’t had a full night’s sleep for almost four years now, so someone might as well make some money off it.

I will wander into my son’s room at 4am and tell him I’m sad

Just to see how he likes it.

I will give up on New Year’s Eve

Look, I’ve always been rubbish at it. I saw in the millennium by holding a girl’s hair as she puked on my shoes. Another year, at the stroke of midnight, I concussed myself on a door frame. Now that I have two small children who wake, fully recharged and in fine voice, at 5am every day, the whole notion of staying up drinking till midnight can absolutely fuck itself in the eye.

On the last day of 2018, I went to bed at a reasonable hour and, the next morning, took the kids on a miniature steam train to the seaside. Yes, our hands were numb with cold and I’m pretty sure the baby ate multiple handfuls of pebbles, but personally I found watching the waves roll in on a sun-filled, blowy beach with friends and family far more life-affirming than any one of Jools Holland’s Hootenannys.

Plus, I have already achieved this resolution for the year!

Now I have two small children who wake at 5am, the notion of staying up till midnight can fuck itself in the eye

I will deflect all unsolicited parenting advice

Although, I am undecided whether to do this by punching the offender on the nose or by loudly proclaiming, “I’M SORRY BUT I DO NOT SPEAK ENGLISH.”

I will think of a better reply than “Because I said so”

My older son is now “Why?” years old. “Why?” he will ask, only semi-interestedly, if I ask him to put on his coat, make an observation about the weather or, sometimes, say nothing at all. The other day, he asked me, “Why is a giraffe’s neck?”, which is when I realised I needed to come up with an arsenal of responses. So far, I’ve started pointing at random people and saying, “Because she’s in charge,” or shrugging and saying, “I don’t make the rules!”

I will celebrate January

To give me three alcoholic drinks, then ask me about Christmas, is to hear my opinion that “they” should move secular Christmas to the middle of January. Because secular Christmas, rather than religious Christmas or consumerist Christmas, is generally about giving people something to feel jolly about during the bleak coldness of midwinter, and these days the middle of January is when things are at their bleakest and coldest.

So, this year, instead of feeling sombre and bereft once the Christmas decorations have been stripped from our bare walls, I’m going to proactively cosy up January with a series of throws, candles, twinkly lights, delicious cinnamony-smelling things, wafting casserole aromas from the slow cooker and an absolute moratorium on Dry January.

I will, in 2019, eat at least one vegetable

This is partly because I’m often too concerned with work, my kids, the house and all the admin of life to properly consider my own nutrition, and that needs to change; and partly because I’m going to have to start Living My Values if the kids are ever going to believe that vegetables are as magical as I keep insisting they are.

But mostly – mostly – I am pledging to eat a vegetable in 2019 because the fibre will assist in the production of the solo poo from my first resolution.

Happy New Year!


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Illustration: Naomi Wilkinson
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