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270: How To Make Parenting Resolutions That Last

It’s a brand new year, and a new opportunity to set goals for ourselves. It’s a chance to work toward being the kind of parent you want to be, and to step up as the pack leader your family really needs. But traditional New Year’s resolutions usually don’t cut it when you’re talking about a lifetime project like parenting. This time we’re resharing an episode that will help you give yourself the tools and support you need to make real, lasting changes.

In this episode, you’ll learn:

  • A step-by-step plan for envisioning success, anticipating setbacks, and building the family dynamic you want.
  • How strong-willed kids keep us engaged with the work of being better parents.
  • The huge role that self-care and acceptance play in helping you show up for your family.

And much more! 

As always, thanks for listening. Head over to Facebook, where you can join my free group Mastermind Parenting Community. We post tips and tools and do pop-up Live conversations where I do extra teaching and coaching to support you in helping your strong-willed children so that they can FEEL better and DO better. If you enjoyed this episode and think that others could benefit from listening, please share it!


About Randi Rubenstein

Randi Rubenstein helps parents with a strong-willed kiddo become a happier family and enjoy the simple things again like bike rides and beach vacays.

She’s the founder of Mastermind Parenting, host of the Mastermind Parenting podcast, and author of The Parent Gap. Randi works with parents across the U.S.

At Mastermind Parenting, we believe every human deserves to have a family that gets along.

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Thanks so much for listening to the Mastermind Parenting podcast, where we support the strong willed child and the families that love them!

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[00:00:00] Randi Rubenstein: My name is Randi Rubenstein, and welcome to the Mastermind Parenting Podcast. At Mastermind Parenting, we’re on a mission to support strong-willed kids and the families that love them.

[00:00:09] I want to talk today about all things New Year’s resolutions, even though I don’t do New Year’s resolutions, but I want to talk about it because I know it’s on everyone’s radar. And I also sort of want to recap, uh, December and just maybe share what I went through in December. I don’t know, maybe some of you all, you guys will identify. 

[00:00:35] And I want to get into how we quite often think of, we have all these hopes and dreams for our kids. And I think we can be in our blind spots around not doing those things ourselves and just sort of wanting to live vicariously through our kids, even though we don’t realize we’re doing it. We think it’s just us being good parents. We’re so concerned. We want them to have great study habits and we want them to learn all the things. 

[00:01:10] You know, I had a mom recently who she noticed that her 10 year old son, he plays with a neighbor. Um, so anyway, a mom recently was, telling me over the break that she or their neighbor was over and the neighbor is a little bit older than her son and her son can tend to like, like the neighbor’s kind of this, you know, maybe a year or two older and he’s this really cerebral kid and he plays chess and um, he’s really mature and that her son is really into athletics and, uh, he is ADHD and, um, and he gets extra kind of clownish and silly when the neighbor’s over and she’s like, you know, it’s a little cringy. 

[00:02:04] She’s like, I mean, the neighbor seems to be amused by it, but then he doesn’t seem to invite my son over a lot. And my son really enjoys playing with him, but then he’s like doing all this. It’s all so performative. And, like, I want to be able to tell him when you play with an older kid. Um, right? Like, like you don’t want to act less mature than you act normally. You want to act a little more mature. And, and so she was really well meaning and well intentioned. And she was just like, you know, wanting to teach him all the things. 

[00:02:43] Meanwhile, what I know about this mom is that she is a single mom and she has spent the last 10 years being super focused on her child and not focused on herself at all. She hasn’t been putting herself out there to, to, really focus on friendships. But here she is wanting to advise her child exactly how he should play with his friend. And I know it sounds so it’s like, well, we’re here, we have to, if we notice something, we have to point it out. And we have… 

[00:03:19] And I said, just slow down. It’s a slippery slope. How about if you focus right now on your own friendships or lack thereof and, um, and bring, because she’s lonely, right? Like she’s been lonely. I’m like, I want you to put that bandwidth on yourself and your own friendships. And, um, right now, I mean, he’s got a friend. And they play and something about this dynamic, um, is working for them and it’s not really for you to understand. 

[00:03:56] It’s a hard thing, right? It’s a hard thing to kind of hear and see as a parent. I think it’s so much easier to notice what everyone else should be doing and how they can better themselves, um, rather than focusing on ourselves.

[00:04:13] I don’t know about you guys, but what I experienced in December, especially like the second part of December, but really the whole time was I didn’t, I was just hibernating a lot. I just wanted to hibernate. You know, I couldn’t really understand it. Like I had, uh, some different projects that were on my plate and I kept needing to do things and I kept not doing them.

[00:04:36] And so I started. It’s my birthday is in December. It’s December 21st and it’s on the winter solstice. And whenever I run into people who are, you know, over the years who are into astrology, and they find out when my birthday is, they’re like, oh, you’re a winter solstice baby. So I always knew it, you know, and I’ve read a little bit about it. 

[00:04:58] But anyway, this year in particular, right around my birthday, I was just feeling tired and not wanting to, to work on these projects that normally would excite me. And I didn’t want to do any of it. I just wanted to hibernate. I just wanted to be with my family, um, watch a lot of movies, hang out with my dogs. So that’s why I have my dog on my lap because I just have been wanting to kind of hibernate. 

[00:05:28] And I started reading about the winter solstice and the winter solstice, December 21st marks the shortest day and the longest night of the year. And it really is a time of hibernation. It’s, um, we’re creating space and we’re allowing the darkness because what we’re, we’re creating space for is a rebirth and, uh, and an invitation back into the light.

[00:06:00] So after December. 30, after December 21st, you know, we’re making our way into a season where more light will be coming in. And I just love those metaphors, even though I’m not really into astrology, I was feeling that. I was feeling this need to hibernate. I was feeling this need to like when it, you know, I was loving it getting cold. It doesn’t get cold that often in Houston, Texas, but it was getting cold enough for us to have fires and I just wanted to be cozy by the fire and I wasn’t really wanting to exercise and I wasn’t wanting to work on things and I was just wanting to hole up with my dogs and my husband. 

[00:06:43] And I think that, you know, a lot of times in our culture where it’s, you know, it’s January, it’s a new year, we have to make all these resolutions. We have to be the best versions of ourselves. We need to help our kids be the best versions of themselves. And we can try to go straight into the hustle and we stall out. It’s the reason why 

[00:07:07] there’s like all these crazy statistics where the majority of people who set New Year’s resolutions, like they give up on those New Year’s resolutions three weeks in, and it’s because we don’t do it the right way.

[00:07:20] And so what I want to say to you guys is that I want you to evaluate. Have, you know, were the holidays just busy, busy, busy? And did you make that space to hibernate? Do you have a bunch of expectations that you’re, you’re putting on yourself and putting on your kids, because you’re just, you know, sick of the way things have been, but are you jumping to that before you’ve allowed yourself to sort of rest and replenish? 

[00:08:03] These are just things I want you guys to think about. Because I think quite often we all can just get so involved in life being busy, busy, busy. Back to kids and schedules and activities and, and, and should-ing we should do this and we should do that. Um, we should stop eating sugar. We should, and I just think that that’s, I don’t want you guys to stall out. That’s my point is I want you to have some grace for yourself.

[00:08:39] I was coaching a woman recently and they had just uh, returned from traveling and visiting family. And she has like a four year old and a one year old and it was the holidays and she thought that her husband was going to be more involved and he was working and working and working. And she just returned and she was freaking exhausted.

[00:09:05] And I said, well, today, your assignment is to take a nap. And that, when your four year old is, um, wanting to go and be busy, I want you to have him lay down next to you and watch a show. And if he’s plugged in more today, it’s okay. You need a nap. It turns out she, I mean, she, she didn’t even realize how tired she was. It turned out that she had COVID. But she said at the end, she was like, I think I needed permission to take a nap. It sounds crazy. 

[00:09:42] And I was like, exactly. Like we have to start with basic needs. Traveling with little kids is exhausting. And who do you think the majority of all the exhausting coordinating and caretaking falls on the mom, right? Like take a nap. It’s okay. And she was like, it sounds so crazy that I needed permission to take a nap. So I want to give you permission to take a nap if you need a nap. 

[00:10:17] And I also want to give you permission to blow off New Year’s resolutions if you’re just feeling tired, right? Who says you have to do, you have to set goals or set intentions for how this next year is going to go for you? Um, who says you have to do it January 1st? Maybe you want to do it January 31st. There are 31 days in January, right? Um, maybe you want to do it January 16th. Maybe you want to wait till February. Maybe you want to do it in March. It doesn’t matter. 

[00:10:56] But you’re never going to go for that goal, that dream, that whatever it is that you have in your mind. That, you know, it would be nice if. Right? It’d be nice if all of a sudden my family got along better, felt peaceful. I didn’t feel guilty every night because I counted exactly how many times I’d lost my mind with my kids. Um, I didn’t beat myself up because it wasn’t present enough. I want you to realize that you gotta have, you gotta create some space and, I just have a feeling that there’s just this collective energy out there that, well, a lot of us just need to hibernate for a little bit.

[00:11:46] I’m coming out of the hibernation because all of a sudden it was like the day before that workshop that I teach at the end of the year in my mastermind. And like I was just all of a sudden super pumped to teach it. And now I’ve sort of been obsessed and blowing all my people up. Um, Because I love the process of manifesting. I love the process of getting, remembering how to daydream and envision, uh, the person you want to become this year. 

[00:12:17] Really, way more than, um, setting super specific goals, what I’ve learned is that we start to play… imagine like a, like producing a cheesy B-rated movie or like an after afterschool special for those of you who grew up in the seventies and eighties. Um, and you’re the star and you’re writing the script. And so just taking the time to remember, what is this dream life that I wanted? Right. And, and letting your brain kind of wander and go there and visualize it, uh, and just bringing a little more fun into it. 

[00:12:56] So if you want to know how you can help your kids to have the best year ever and how to teach them about, you know, improving upon themselves. For those of you who understand, who’ve read or learned, learned about the work of Carol Dweck, 

[00:13:12] You know, it’s all about a growth mindset. We’re always learning when we’re failing. You know, I know if you’re listening to this podcast, you have a strong-willed child and I’m sure you can pinpoint all of the areas in their life that they need to improve upon. Right? And you really want to teach them all the things and tell them how they could… 

[00:13:37] You know, it’s like the mom I talked about at the beginning, how she, how he could play with his friend in a way that would make the friend maybe invite him over more often. Like I, I get it. I know you have so much wisdom to impart. And. Doesn’t mean that you’re not going to get to impart that wisdom at some point. I just want you to live it to give it. 

[00:14:04] So you do you first. You figure out what you want this year to be, who you want to be, the woman that you want to be, or the parent you want to be in this year. And really focus your energy on that, on you being the star of that B, B-rated cheesy after school special, where you’re being that person. 

[00:14:37] I’ll share a tiny bit of the neuroscience about this concept. So your brain doesn’t know the difference between a vision it’s had and rehearsed and rehearsed and rehearsed in your mind. Um, it doesn’t know the difference between that and real life. 

[00:15:02] So when you take the time, and I know that might sound crazy cause you’re like, what are you talking about? But if you take the time to really allow yourself to, to relax and daydream. Not just like, oh, it would be nice. And then you catch yourself going, but that would never work. Or my kid would never do that. Or we could never have that smooth of a morning or, or, or get that much sleep or have bedtime go so easy or be able to go to a restaurant without it feeling like a total shit show.

[00:15:34] Like I know it’s easy to, to have all those yeah, but, that could never happen for me. I want you to just see if you can relax and, and say, well, maybe it wouldn’t happen, but I can still think about it. I can dream about it. I can imagine it. How would that movie play out? 

[00:15:55] So if you see it in your mind. And you just allow yourself to have some fun, even though if you don’t believe that that could ever happen for you because life, you have a dark cloud around you, life never works out for you. All those things that we all tell ourselves that actually stall us out and keep us from going for those dreams and becoming that version of ourselves that we wish we could become.

[00:16:22] I just want you to give yourself permission to have a cheesy, B-rated movie going on in your brain that you’re the star of. Okay? And in that, you know, maybe your kid is a supporting character and there’s a version of your kid, your strong-willed kid in that, in that B-rated movie. And all of a sudden they’re cuddling up with you and you’re telling them to get their shoes on and they’re like, they’re like, can I just have one more minute? And you’re like, sure, babe. One more minute. And then you’re like, okay. It’s been in one minute and your kid’s like, okay, mommy, and they get their shoes on and they go. 

[00:17:05] Or maybe the teenager who is constantly rude and disrespectful and talking back and getting in trouble at school, you’re envisioning that they’re not that version of themselves anymore. The sky’s the limit. You can daydream whatever you want.

[00:17:22] So in your brain, when you’re rehearsing this and seeing it and seeing it and seeing it, you then have an anchor, okay? You have an anchor to aim for. So that’s step one of really doing New Year’s resolutions, right? Like really being intentional about what kind of year you want to have. 

[00:17:46] Step two is after you’ve seen this. B-rated movie and like kind of the overall message and how it works out. Then I want you to start to daydream and rehearse all of the moments when, you know, before you get to the end, cause there has to be some conflict, right? Nobody’s ever sitting through a movie or a book if there’s no conflict. There has to be a little bit of a hell and back story. Right. It’s too boring. 

[00:18:20] Like life, there’s the law of polarity. We have to, we have to have opposites. So we have to go out of the cave and get freezing cold to enjoy how warm the fire feels when we come back into the cave. If we just stay cozy in the cave all the time, well, all of a sudden the cave doesn’t feel so cozy because we have no point of comparison.

[00:18:42] So, so. Um, we want to rehearse next. Part two, we want to rehearse the conflict. Before your kid has become the easy, agreeable kid who asks for one more minute and then actually goes and gets their shoes on and goes and gets in the car. Or goes to bed no problem, and comes and gives you kisses and hugs, um, and doesn’t, doesn’t ask for one more book and all that. After you’ve seen all that and the teenager who, um, is like, can I just stay up 30 minutes later? I just really want to finish this homework. Okay, babe. You know, the super responsible teenager, whatever it is, the teenager who comes into the kitchen is like, hey mom, do you need any help for dinner? Can I set the table? Sure. Right? The helpful teenager. 

[00:19:29] Um, so, so now we’re going to rehearse the conflict. So then you’re going to put your actual real life kid in to your brain and you’re going to imagine the, the shit moments. The moments when your kid is being surly or refusing to get their shoes on or refusing to go to bed. And 

[00:19:52] you’re going to rehearse the you, you are becoming right? The, the version of you that you’re becoming. Confident, assertive, a total pack leader. Calm, grounded, cool, you know, not making little deals into big deals and just handling whatever comes your way. 

[00:20:16] You’re not going to get bent out of shape because your kid’s having a moment. You’re just going to do the thing you said you were going to do. You’re not making empty threats anymore. If you said, hey, listen, when the morning doesn’t go smoothly and there’s a problem with us leaving the house where you’re not getting all your things together, just know I’m gonna be in the car at this time and you can join me. 

[00:20:47] And then your kid’s late to school and you allow them to be late to school and allow them to go get the tardy slip. And they also know that on days where things aren’t running smoothly, we’re going to be, we’re going to have a tech free day and we’re going to have a 30 minute. Bedtime, 30 minute earlier bedtime. 

[00:21:05] If you have a little one, you know that on those days that the mornings don’t run smoothly, there’s going to be no iPad games. They’re all, they’re going to go to bed earlier. And when they get home from school, if they go to preschool, they’re going to lay down and have a rest time. Okay?

[00:21:23] And then I want you to rehearse, and you may not be able to put yourself in place of the person. Like, I don’t even know how I would handle that. Right. if you haven’t been conditioned with the level of leadership I’m talking about that knows how to get your kid air quotes, get your kid to do those things in the follow through right?

[00:21:48] Um, I want you to imagine someone who you could, you know, who you know, has those skills. It might be, I don’t know, a parent that you knew when you were growing up who just always seemed like they were always so calm, cool, and collected. And they were that parent that when you and your friends made a mistake as a teenager, they, you know, they were like, well, we can talk to Sarah’s mom because she’s, she always knows how to handle everything.

[00:22:18] Maybe it was, um, a teacher, that was a mentor and was just always a safe adult for you. Um, maybe it was an aunt. Maybe it was a best friend’s parent. Maybe you’re going to imagine, um, a character from a television show, right? Like imagine, uh, oh, I love, beth and Randall from This Is Us. Like how do they handle it? Maybe you’re going to imagine them living in your home with your kids. 

[00:22:50] The interesting thing is, is that when you rehearse the shitty parts. Okay. When the shitty parts actually happen, your brain has already seen it before, so you’re not going to be deer in the headlights. I don’t know what to do. Right. And where you go fight or flight. Because if you’re a deer in the headlights, when the real life shitty parts happen, which happens a lot when you have a strong-willed kid, especially a strong-willed kid who hasn’t had a lot of consistency and boundaries…

[00:23:21] Um, and it’s not your fault. You, you know, as women, most of us don’t know how to follow through and have those boundaries. We have no clue. And so we have to learn these skills. I mean, that’s the cool thing is that we can learn how to do this. 

[00:23:37] But, when you’ve, when your brain has rehearsed it and rehearsed it and rehearsed it, well, now you’re not going to be that deer in the headlights who either gets angry and just starts yelling and exacerbates the situation, or just gives in and lets your kid, you know, continue running the show and running the show and running the show because you don’t know how else to handle it. If you’ve rehearsed it in your mind, even if you’ve rehearsed it with someone else, a character from a show or someone that you’ve known in your life that was that calm, grounded grownup, you’ve seen how they’ve handled it and you’ve played it out in your mind. So now when the real life moments happen, it’s sort of like you’re prepared. 

[00:24:24] And I’ll tell you what I’m basing this on. I’ve learned a lot from a neuroscientist named 

[00:24:30] Andrew Huberman, but I’ve also been reading and listening to books all year. And one of the books that my family, my young adult children are really into and I, I listened to the book, which was, I thought was a really good book was by the Navy SEAL David Goggins. And, um, and David Goggins like has he’s done crazy, crazy things in his life, like all these ultra marathons by himself and like really, really just grueling stories in terms of what he’s overcome, how he’s accomplished all of these feats. 

[00:25:06] And the big thing that David Goggins, uh, talks about in that book is people make the mistake of just like, if you want to run a marathon, they just envisioned that finish line. And he said, you know, you can imagine the finish line at first. That’s like step one of manifesting, right?

[00:25:25] He goes, but what’s, what, what’s going to get you to that finish line is really rehearsing in your mind, the five o’clock in the morning, when the alarm goes off, and you being the kind of person that gets out of bed and get your running shoes on. And then you go on the run and it’s seven mile run morning and it’s freezing cold outside and it starts raining, right? Like you imagine like everything that could go wrong and how you’re going to get through that moment, right? 

[00:25:58] And back to the law of polarity, it’s like getting through that moment, it might be you saying to yourself, oh, that cave is going to be cozy when I return to it. I’m, this day, I’m going to be unstoppable. I’m the kind of person who pops out of bed at five o’clock in the morning and goes on a run. And like, I’m the kind of person that does things like this. 

[00:26:21] I’m the kind of parent who doesn’t make big deals out of little deals when my four year old you know, is crying because they got the wrong Christmas present, right? Like I’m not, I give them a hug. I’m not making a big deal out of little deal and all of a sudden giving them some big life lesson when they can’t even take it in there in their survival brain, right? I’m the kind of person who shows up as that confident, calm, grounded grownup. My kids are going to feel so safe in the world.

[00:26:59] Like, I’m the kind of person who retrains my brain as an adult. And when you’re the kind of person who commits to doing, to listening to podcasts like this and, uh, knows you’re not going to raise your kids, the way you were. You love your parents, right? They did the best they could, yada, yada, yada. And you’re the kind of person who promised you were going to do things differently. Oh, and then you were gifted this strong-willed child who is going to test you and test you and test you to dig in and learn new ways of doing things.

[00:27:43] That’s what these strong-willed kids are. They are, it’s that law of polarity. If we all just had the super chill, easygoing kids, guess what? It’s like staying cozy in the cave. Because they’re so easy, you’re going to forget that you promised you were never going to yell at your kids or you’re never going to, whatever it is that you wish your parents hadn’t done.

[00:28:08] If you can go back to that time, I’m never going to make my kids feel like this. I’m never going to guilt trip my kids. I’m never going to tell my kids how disappointed I am in them. I’m never going to make my kids lie to me or think that they need to sneak around. I’m never going to have teenagers that feel like they can’t trust me. I want my kids to always be able to talk to me. I want my kids to grow up and to want to come home for the holidays. 

[00:28:33] Like we have to remember back to those dreams. And then remembering that during, you know, whatever the, you know, the parenting version of waking up at five o’clock in the morning to go run and in the rain and yada, yada, yada, like reminding yourself when you’re in the super hellish moments of your kid, you know, acting like a lunatic and screaming, I hate you, you’re the worst parent ever. And how you’re going to show up in those moments, how you’re going to channel your inner Beth and Randall and whoever it is, you can imagine being that calm, grounded grownup and not making this kid having a meltdown, their problem, right?

[00:29:22] So when you rehearse this in your mind and you rehearse how you’re going to feel so proud of yourself, you’re going to feel so empowered by the way you’re showing up. This is how you affect your feeling state, okay? And when you affect your feeling state in this way, what you find is that you become the version of yourself that you dreamt up all those months before. Okay? 

[00:29:56] So New Year’s resolutions are really bullshit. This process of manifesting, right? Of bringing back that childhood magical daydreaming, remembering that you can want whatever you want in your daydreams, and you don’t have to talk yourself out of it. Just because you’ve been disappointed at lots of other times in your life, or you haven’t known yet how to accomplish growing into this version of yourself that you really, really know, deep in your core on a cellular level, you were born to become. Like, this is your chance to start doing things the right way. 

[00:30:51] And when you focus on this type of work where you, you’re giving yourself permission. It’s like giving yourself permission to take a nap, giving yourself permission to not focus so much on your kid, but to focus on you. I promise you. I promise you, your kid is definitely going to benefit from this because they learn from what we model. 

[00:31:17] So if you think about that law of polarity, I don’t know if I finished this thought. These kids that are our strong-willed ones, they’re the ones, they’re the conduits you know, for us to keep those promises and to, to get back to those dreams of exactly the kind of parent we were going to be. 

[00:31:37] They were all super chill and easy, we would just go on autopilot and do things the exact same way as our parents did for us. And that’s not evolution. Like every single generation is supposed to evolve a little bit past the one before us. So these strong-willed kids are helping us to do that. 

[00:32:01] And I know when you’re in the muck and in the thick of it can be so hard to see. Because when you’re tired, when you haven’t given yourself the time and the space to hibernate, to rest and, and replenish yourself for the rebirth, there’s no way. There’s no way that you’re going to be able to do this work. And this is the work that is going to change your life and change your family and raise the next generation even better. 

[00:32:45] So there’s your New Year’s resolution, uh, guidance, your Un New Year’s resolution guidance. I thank you for being here with me. I wish I could see you and hug you. so that’s what I’ve got for you and until next week, take care.

[00:33:08] Thanks for listening today, guys. I hope you picked up some tips, tools, maybe some baby steps for creating more balance and boundaries in your life. And I just wanted to let you know, if you want to continue moving the needle forward in creating this for yourself, having a happier household, I want you to go to my website and check out We have three beginning programs, and if you need some accountability and more support then please look for the one that would be a good fit for you.

[00:33:43] And, as always, we’re on all the social channels under mastermind parenting, on Instagram it’s mastermind_parenting. And, you know, periodically I do pop up on different Instagram lives, Facebook lives where I give you teaching and coaching and I love engaging with you live to help you help your strong-willed kids so that they can feel better, because when they feel better they do better, and I love, love, love getting to know you guys. 

[00:34:16] So thanks for listening. If you like this podcast, please don’t forget to subscribe, rate and review. Super super appreciative

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