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New Year’s resolutions—the slacker mom edition

Erin Zammett Ruddy

Happy 2011, everyone! Hope you all enjoyed the holidays and are not too depressed about getting back to reality this week. I, for one, am ready to embrace the new year and do some big things over the next 361 days. That said I am not a fan of hard-core, do-or-die resolutions so there will be no crazy declarations of zero TV or zero sweets or zero anything. I am, however, a big fan of fresh starts and of new ways to be a better person/wife/professional/daughter/friend/mother. Because I am far from perfect, as we all know. And even if I were, there is always room for improvement. So, this year I resolve…

To play more—and get dirty—with my kids. I am kind of anal when it comes to getting things checked off my to-do list. I am also a teeny bit crazy about keeping my house picked up/beds made/kitchen floor clean. This means I am always multitasking and cleaning up as my kids play or making a game out of Nora watching me fold and put away laundry. Over the holidays I let all of that go—I didn’t multitask or even task while my kids were around. I got on the floor, I rolled around, I got dirty.  And we all had a blast. The best, of course, was after the awesome blizzard when Alex and I spent hours (seriously, the kid refused to come in) sailing down the taboggan run Uncle Izzy and my dad made at my parents’ house. I may have even had more fun than the kids—see photo for evidence.

I was sore after this day!

To go to the library more often. My kids both love to read but I’m feeling uninspired. Mostly because I can recite all the books they have by heart. I can seriously tell you every bit of mischief Curious George has ever gotten in to in his entire monkey life. And we’ve been reading Tale of a Tail (Alex’s current favorite library book) for so long that I dream about that damn fish-loving bear. I find myself skipping pages or bartering with Nick to do story time because I’m bored. Which isn’t fair.

I left the room for one second and found Nora like this—she likes to climb into chairs almost as much as she likes books. 

To cook more with Alex. I love that my three year old knows the difference between an onion and a shallot and that every morning he puts a pencil behind his ear and takes my breakfast order and that whenever I’m in the kitchen, he refers to me as “chef” (and himself as “waiter guy”). He loves to cook or to pretend to cook and I want to foster that passion. But letting him actually do it is an undertaking I sometimes avoid. Last night he assisted me in prepping the Brussels sprouts. I let him use one of those dull little cheese knives that isn’t sharp enough to cut anything but that probably could have landed us in the ER anyway. He made a mess. He asked a million questions. Every time I opened the oven I had to build a barricade so no one would go tumbling into it. But, really, it was fun. And when the sprouts were done (and after I’d offered him five dollars—I know, I know) he popped one in his mouth. And then he kept grabbing them off the baking sheet while we were getting everything else ready. Pure joy! Of course while we sat down and ate our dinner (sliders, sweet potatoes, French fries, spinach salad and Brussels sprouts—an I-can’t-go-to-the-grocery-store-let’s-just-eat-what-we-have-in-the-house night) and I asked him to eat another, he wouldn’t. When I offered him five more dollars, he said, “No thanks, mom. I don’t even have a wallet.”

To dress Nora better. There really isn’t much to say about this other than, the kid looks a mess most of the time. And her hair is out of control. See photo for details. (Not only is she wearing too-small pajamas in the middle of day, but said pjs are hand-me-downs). She has beautiful party dresses and party shoes from her grandmothers (see the main photo of her Christmas Eve getup), but we really don’t go to many parties. Honestly if it weren’t for my neighbor, Kathy, Nora would live in a onesie.

To spend less money on stupid things like Dunkin Donuts coffee (I am once again addicted) and takeout dinners and On Demand movies (it cost me 5.99 to watch Eclipse the other night!) so that my kids can go to college.

To have more playdates. I have a lot of new friends with kids or old friends with new kids and plenty of opportunities to get together. But I work from home, which puts me in a sticky situation. I feel like I’m available all the time but really I’m not. Because I usually have a pretty hefty workload. That said, there is usually an hour or two to spare at least once a week and my kids love other kids. Nora had a playdate yesterday and it was like she was a wild animal who’d been let out of a cage—she was climbing and laughing and tumbling and screeching and I literally couldn’t wipe the smile from her face. Alex had a playdate on Sunday, after which he took a three hour nap (“You don’t have to read me books, dad” he said, “I’m too tired to listen.”) Score!

To go on field trips with the kids. When you work from home like I do, it’s easy (and admittedly kind of nice) to forget that there is a world out there with people and places and culture. I feel like because I don’t always have to get up and go, I’m not so good at getting up and going just for fun. And we have so many great things the kids would love to do right at our fingertips. In 2011, we will hit the zoo, some museums, farms, beaches, aquariums, and, OK, a few vineyards.

Before Christmas we did a city day with the boys. Alex had a ball and was well-behaved enough that we will do it again...eventually. 

To empty Alex’s folder at school every day. I am so that mom who never reads her kid’s daily reports (in all fairness, they say the exact same thing everyday). Once a week—or, um, less frequently—I’ll pull a stack of them out only to discover there was also a note in there about a party. And I was supposed to sign up to bring pretzels. D’oh!

Not to forget that the most important relationship in my house is the one I have with Nick. If we aren’t happy as a couple, how can we be good parents? I’m not gonna lie, we are pretty good at remembering this—probably too good, considering how much we spent on date nights in 2010, but it bears repeating. We need to work so that everything else can work. So far, so good. Here’s to more of the good things in life in the New Year!

The Ruddy family reading Twas the Night Before Christmas on Christmas Eve. Another resolution for 2011: Take a family picture where at least the majority of us are looking at the camera.... 

OK, that’s my list. All seems totally doable to me. What do you hope to do with your kids/as a mom in 2011? Please share!