Most people make New Year’s resolutions. Few ever stick to them. Christi and I decided to change that this year. We chose a resolve that requires we maintain it—lest we lose our sanity, or worse yet, our marriage.
Let me explain. With a five-month-old and two-year old, we’re in the trenches. The words “easy” and “baby” are never used together in the Straub household. I guess that’s what happens when two first-born driven Type A’s marry and produce offspring—you get “spirited” infants whose screams sound as if you’re changing their diapers with a machete. (Christi is even introduced by friends at church as “the woman with the baby who has the worst cry I’ve ever heard”).
Some tell us it gets better. I understand that in my head. But not in my heart. Until I do, I won’t believe you. All I know right now is we’re up four times a night with our infant and our toddler now says “no”—to everything. By the time he stops saying “no” to everything, she’ll start.
The only hope I see is perhaps a bit more sleep by then—but I’m not holding my breath.
I’m not writing any of this for pity—but because if you’re a parent, we understand—the trenches will always come and go. Even when the hunger subsides, worry sets in, and the sleepless nights return. Perhaps our toddler isn’t sharing, our child isn’t caring, or our teenager is too daring.
Enough rhyming. You get it.
That’s why this year, to stop focusing so much on our kids, and worrying too much about how we may or may not be damaging them for life, we’re going to prioritize “us,” our own emotional and spiritual health, and our marriage.
I believe it’s the most selfless act we could do for our kids.
I read a blog last year that inspired me to live this way. The title: Would you Wish Your Life on Your Children?
In other words, when Christi and I drop our kids off every Friday night to our trusted and beloved sitters for a date night, would I wish for my children to feel free to prioritize their marriage one day as well? You bet I would.
When Christi and I take turns to go work out at the gym, would I want my kids to do the same for their own physical and emotional health? Of course.
Does Christi want her daughter feeling free to leave her kids behind one night a week for time with her girlfriends? Indeed.
Do we want our kids to learn the values we espouse—to work hard and play hard? Then we best live the same way.
The values our kids internalize and live by come not from what we say, but by watching us live.
Christi and I are learning that the only way to keep positive, fun, life-giving attitudes alive in our home, even in the trenches, is by prioritizing us—and by doing so, we’re prioritizing our kids.
What is your resolve this year as a parent—to find rest, stop worrying so much, and to live the values you want your kids to live by?
Would you wish your life on your children? If not, what can you do to begin changing that this year?
Joshua Straub, Ph.D. is an advocate for families and parenting in the 21st century. He loves coming alongside families to provide encouragement, support and practical counsel. Josh specializes in combining the scientific research with biblical wisdom to provide the best-of-all-worlds perspective on raising stellar kids, having an awesome marriage and living a full life. He is the author of the upcoming release Safe House: How Emotional Safety is the Key to Raising Kids Who Live, Love, and Lead Well (October, 2015). Together with his favorite writing partner and wife, Christi, Josh is working on raising his own baseball team, starting with their son Landon and daughter Kennedy. For more encouragement and ideas on marriage and parenting in the 21st century you can join Josh and a growing tribe of awesome families at www.joshuastraub.com and follow him on Twitter @joshuastraub or Facebook.