As we welcome in the New Year, parents everywhere will be scratching their heads trying to work out exactly where all the time went.
With little people to run around after and care for, the days, weeks and months seem to pass by in an instant for busy mums and dads. And before they know it, they are facing another year of school runs, parents evenings, the occasional temper tantrums and some sleepless nights.
It doesn't leave much room for 'me time', let alone the chance to sit down and conjure up New Year's Resolutions that don't involve the children.
HELLO! Online is here to help! To welcome in 2013, we have come up with some ideas for non-stop parents.
As lovely as it is to spend time together as a family, it's equally important to make time for each other – after all, before the children came along it was just the two of you. Set aside one night a month, get a babysitter and treat yourselves to dinner and drinks; make a rule not to just talk about the children, but rather use the opportunity to discuss other aspects of your life.
(Cleaning) less is more!
So you haven't got around to cleaning up the breakfast things, and you can't remember the last time you cleaned the windows… who cares?! This year let go of your cleaning hangouts and embrace the fact that you are not superwoman/man – there are better and more important things to do than polishing the bathroom taps anyway!
Make a promise to yourself to take as many photos as possible in 2013. Children grow up so fast and it's important to document family life in the here-and-now; you will treasure those pics in years to come… the sillier the better! And if you do have a large collection of photos cluttering up the house, take the time to sort through them and put them into family albums.
The Great Outdoors
Swap your slippers for your wellies in 2013, and head out for some family fun outdoors. It's free, fun and the children will love running around in the open space. What's more, they are likely to be asleep before you make it home!
With everything life throws at you, it can be hard to set aside quality time for your children. Between work and the washing up, parents find it tricky to enjoy one-on-one time with their little ones. And if you have more than one child, the chances of that happening are significantly reduced.
Set aside some time each week to be with each of your children, on their own and doing something they enjoy. It will help you stay in touch and gives them the opportunity to enjoy some time with mummy or daddy on their own.
Me, me, me!
Yes, it sounds impossible, but in 2013 you need to make time for you! Whether it's an hour after the children have gone to bed, or a spare 30 minutes courtesy of a well-planned playdate, run a bath, read a book or paint your nails – it's the little things that make all the difference.
Of course we all want to spend time with our children/partners, but nothing beats time with our friends. Stay connected and pick up the phone to arrange coffee dates, lunches and afternoon shopping trips with pals; it will help you retain your identity outside the family home.
Finally, if you do nothing else in 2013, have confidence in yourself as a parent. And don't worry so much about what other people think about your parenting approach – take a step back and see what an amazing job you are doing!