The Busy Mom’s Guide to New Year’s Resolutions

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The Busy Mom's Guide to New Year's Resolutions© vectorfusionart/Dollar Photo Club

We’ve officially hit that time of year when people scrutinize their lives, identify their shortcomings, and vow to make next year better.

Research from the University of Scranton found that a whopping 45% of Americans make some kind of resolution in honor of the new calendar year. Sadly, only 8% successfully follow through.

Part of the problem is the way in which people formulate their pledges; sweeping declarations like “I will lose weight and remain skinny forever!” or “I will pinch every penny and never worry about money again!” usually call for a life overhaul of epic proportions.

But between play dates and soccer games and homework help, we busy moms don’t have time for such life overhauls.

If we promise ourselves the moon, we’re just setting ourselves up for failure and disappointment.

There’s a better way. Here are five common New Year’s Resolutions, plus some ideas for how to make them more realistic – and achievable – given the busy mom lifestyle.

5 New Year’s Resolutions for Busy Moms

Traditional Resolution: This year I will ban all junk food from my diet.

Busy Mom’s Spin: This year I will make three meals a week healthier.

Don’t bother swearing off chocolate forever because the minute you do, you’ll find yourself craving Snickers bar after Snickers bar. Instead, choose a reasonable number of meals to improve each week, and see where it takes you.

If your family has a Friday pizza night tradition, skip the greasy delivery and try making your own at home with whole wheat dough and lots of veggies on top. Or if your hectic mornings often involve donuts from the local convenience store, resolve to bake some healthy muffins on Sunday for nutritious on-the-go breakfasts throughout the week.

Traditional Resolution: I resolve to get in the best shape of my life.

Busy Mom’s Spin: I resolve to find ways to incorporate physical activity into my current routine.

If you’re expecting 2014 to magically have an extra hour in the day earmarked for the gym, you’re going to be sorely disappointed. But that doesn’t mean you can’t move your body more, even on days without dedicated treadmill time.

Commit to taking the stairs instead of the elevator. Never spend more than an hour sitting in front of your computer without getting up for a short walk. Or turn your quality time with your kids into exercise by going out to play in the snow with them. A good snowball fight will torch as many calories as your regular sweat session.

Traditional Resolution: This year I’ll earn enough money for my dream vacation/home improvement project/private yacht (right…….).

Busy Mom’s Spin: This year I’ll find three relatively painless ways to pad my savings account.

Even if saving hundreds of dollars a month isn’t feasible, you can still find little ways to cut back. Set aside an afternoon to examine your monthly bills, making sure you’re not being charged too much or getting hit with avoidable fees. Switch your mindset to consider Starbucks a special treat rather than a daily habit. And decide which conveniences are truly worth the extra money – can’t you shred those carrots yourself? – and which aren’t.

Traditional Resolution: I vow to keep my house clutter-free for the next twelve months.

Busy Mom’s Spin:  I vow to develop a cleaning and organization system that fits my lifestyle.

It happens to the best of us: We want our homes to look like they’re straight out of an interior design magazine, yet continue to treat our kitchen table like a dumping ground for junk mail and catalogs.

The key to getting organized is to work with your natural tendencies instead of against them. If the idea of spending an entire weekend cleaning sounds like pure torture to you, then instead resolve to spend 10 minutes a day tidying up. If you’re the type that would rather knock it all out in one shot, then don’t give yourself grief over pushing off the laundry.

Traditional Resolution: This year I’m going to keep life in perspective, counting my blessings and focusing on what really matters.

Busy Mom’s Spin: See above.

This one is worth it. We should all resolve to make it happen.

Are you making a New Year’s Resolution this year?