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My Low-Expectation Parenting Goals for the New Year

1. Get more sleep. Or nap more. Or pretend I've passed out for 15 minutes on the couch. Anything to get the kids to leave me alone.
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Every new year, Husband and I make goals for everything. And I mean everything. Spiritual, financial, personal, business-related, marriage goals, family goals, reading goals, learning goals. All kinds of goals.

We don't like resolutions, because resolutions are something you make and then break. We like goals, because goals are something we work toward and may or may not accomplish throughout the course of a year, but at least we know we tried -- and just trying is to be applauded in the life of a parent.

I've been making goals since I was a kid. I know it's a little weird, but I was always that kid. I wanted to finish my homework 10 minutes faster and play outside for 30 minutes more after school and eat black-eyed peas for New Year's lunch without gagging.

These days my goals are hardly more refined, mostly because I'm now a parent.


Here's a look at some of my parent-goals for 2016.

1. Get more sleep. Or nap more. Or pretend I've passed out for 15 minutes on the couch. Anything to get the kids to leave me alone.

I realize this is most likely more difficult than my idealistic little mind can even grasp, since there are 3-year-old twins added to this mix of boys, and everyone knows 3-year-olds are little terrors who can't be left alone for any amount of time without completely destroying something or hurting themselves. Add to that a 9-month-old who thinks everything on the floor is food and three other boys who track in mud from the backyard, and you have a recipe for no sleep. Maybe even negative sleep. But I have not given up on this goal that cycles back around every year, because someday. I just know someday.

2. Stop walking barefoot around the house.

My 9-year-old has a billion Legos. While they are supposed to remain contained within his little corner of the house, they somehow migrate into all the other rooms, which means it's not even remotely safe to walk anywhere barefoot.

But why would I want to? My floors haven't been cleaned in WAY, WAY, WAY too long. I can't even stomach anymore what I may be stepping on. Why are my socks sticking to the kitchen floor? I don't really want to know.

Everyone got slippers for Christmas this year, so that's what we'll all be wearing from here on out.

3. Clean the house at least once.

Hey, when you're the mom of six boys, you have really, really, really low expectations. Boys undo all the hard work in seconds, just as soon as they decide to go to the bathroom. On that note...

4. Mark my bathroom as a "no boys allowed" space.

Lately we've been breaking up the boys for baths, bathing half of them in our nice garden tub and the other half in their own, smaller tub. My nice garden tub is now disgustingly dirty. I really don't know where all this dirt comes from. Their hair? Their faces? The bottom of their feet? I have a theory. Dirt comes from boy.

Not only have they destroyed my garden tub, but they use my toilet, the one toilet in the house I'd like to call mine. Sometimes they forget to pull the seat up (I realize this is the opposite of many of their male counterparts, but it's just one of the weird variations my boys have on habits of the male species), and since I'm usually the first one to sit on the seat after it's been abused by a boy... well, let's just say I throw up a little in my mouth when I have to dry off my bum.

They are also, apparently, quite proud of what comes out of their bodies into the toilet and so leave it there for all the world to see. I have a present waiting for me every time I lock myself in my bathroom.

So yes. I would like a bathroom of my own.

5. Budget for a house cleaner.

I know this seems like the easy way out, but all the bathrooms in my house (including mine) smell like a swamp, and the glass surfaces (mirrors supposedly hung in kids-can't-reach places and a glass-top dining room table... what were we thinking???) are so smudged you can't even see your real face in them. Sometimes you'll wonder if you remembered to put your contacts in this morning, but no. That's just the little handprints you couldn't wait to see before they actually came along and smeared your "perfectly clear" aspirations in your face.

It's impossible to keep up with all the hands and feet and elbows and knees and other unmentionable parts that dirty up the surfaces of my home. It's just better to count my losses and call in the troops.

6. Read fewer articles that lie to me.

These would be articles like those titled, "How to never have to clean your home" (just maintain on a daily basis so there's no deep cleaning that ever needs to be done) and "12 easy home projects to do in 15 minutes" (kids add three hours to that 15 minutes) and "eating paleo can be affordable." These people have clearly never had children, and I just don't have time for any more lies.

7. Go a whole day without whining or complaining. Invite my children to do the same.

Sometimes we get in these funks as parents, whining and complaining about what they're doing or not doing, and all the while they're watching us, and when we say, "Please talk in your big boy voice. I can't understand you when you're whining," do you know what they're thinking?

Same goes for you.

Yes, the same goes for us. So maybe one way to get our kids to stop whining and complaining is to stop doing it ourselves. This is going to take some work.

8. Get better at asking for help.

I know our society encourages us to pretend like we've got everything perfectly handled. But we don't. Maybe we do about 5 percent of the time. Or 1 percent of the time. The other 95 to 99 percent of the time, we're one dangerous thread away from snapping into crazy-parent mode, and we're wishing there was some kind of help and feeling mad at ourselves for not asking in the first place.

Asking for help isn't weakness. It's strength that isn't often celebrated.

I don't know how many of these goals will become a reality, but a mom can dream, right? And I'm dreaming big for 2016.


A version of this post originally appeared on Crash Test Parents. Find Rachel on Twitter and Facebook.

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