New Year. It gets a fairly bad rap, with people asking “Why the big deal? It’s no different to any other time of year!” and slating new year’s resolutions as the worst way to set yourself unachievable goals that make you feel more miserable when you fail to achieve them.
But I’m taking full advantage of this new year, because it’s the first one in a LONG time where I felt that making resolutions is actually a plausible activity for me – even a necessary one – because my life has changed in so many ways that I now CAN.
Here’s my new year’s resolutions (just to be clear, walking closer to God and getting organised are two things I’m always working on too, but those are my entire life’s goals, rather than 2013 goals):
1. Learn to be proactive, not just reactive.
For as long as I can remember, my life has been about dealing with things that are right in front of me, shouting for my attention. Youth events, college deadlines, a big mess that needs sorting out NOW, pregnancy, tiny babies, people needing help in a crisis, more youth events, more college deadlines, more pregnancies, more tiny babies, school events, church events, illness, toddlers, more illness, ambulances.... you get the general idea. The truth is, I’m pretty great at dealing with crisies. There’s something in my head that locks into whatever needs doing right there, right then, and I throw off everything else and focus on how to get through whatever demand has hit me. I even get a strange sense of calm in the middle of it all, like I’m relieved to have other choices removed, and I have just one thing to focus on and get through.
The trouble is, that life is not usually lived in emergency mode – it’s about the every day responsibilities and routines that make life go smoothly. That's the stuff I’m not great at. I know there’s loads of things to be done, but unless one of them is screaming at me (like “Muuuum, I need you NOW!” or looking at the clock and knowing we only have ten minutes to get everyone out of the door), I dither looking at all the things and trying to work out what I should be doing. As I start one activity, I think about a million other activities that need to be done, so I drop the first one, and go onto a second one, which reminds me of a third one, and so on and so on. So all around me are unfinished jobs and projects, yet I feel like I’ve been busy all day doing stuff I didn’t want to do, without actually achieving anything.
What I really need to learn is how to be proactive – how to plan ahead, and set goals, and steps to reach those goals, and then actually find a way to get those darned things done. Consistently and thoroughly. I don’t know how, but 2013 is the year to start finding out.
2. Conquer the kitchen.
I hate kitchens. But they started it first. They can’t stand me. When I go into a kitchen, stuff happens to me – things fall on me, or jump off the counter and onto the floor, or disappear so I spend ages searching for them, or just spread themselves as far around the room as they can, making as much mess as possible. Really. I hate cooking, I hate the mess that comes from the constant meals that people apparently need to have three times a day, I hate the way food constantly needs to be sorted, and replenished, and thrown away, and uses up so much of our money. I know this is a ridiculous first-world problem, but there it is. It’s the worst room of the house, that needs ten times the attention of the others, and is the most boring one to spend all that time in.
So when I say conquer it, I don’t mean I want to become a gormet chef. I mean I want to come up with some kind of system where stuff is less messy, put away sooner, where we keep track of what we have and what we DON’T need, and where, instead of it being a dangerous and dirty place to be, maybe I can do a few bits with the kids, like show them how to make basic meals and learn to bake and other fun, educational things like that. You know, just to be nice for them. There’s no ulterior motive of teaching them how to do my job for me so that in the future I have to spend less time in there, or anything like that. I don’t know what you’re talking about.
3. Blog once a week.
I love writing stuff down, whether it’s pen to paper or fingers to keys. But as per resolution #1, whenever I try and do it, I always feel like it’s an indulgence and a non-necessity, so I inevitably end up with a few sentences left hanging in mid-air while I go and do half a job somewhere else instead. So I thought if I say it out loud, and put it on here, then it becomes a challenge and a responsibility (don’t ask me who to, you’ll break the illusion I’m creating here) that I have to prioritise it over something else once a week, because I said I would.
Is that the first step to the stuff I want to do in resolution #1 – set a target, get some accountability and then follow it through? Maybe you proactive people know the answer to that one.
4. Less TV for the kids.
I don’t watch much TV. There’s a couple of series that I record on Sky+, and I’ll catch up a couple of evenings a week on them, but I don’t watch it during the day. I’m too busy
Twitter and Facebook cleaning my house for that. But my kids watch too much TV.
It started when we had three small boys with an insane amount of energy and
destructive capacities. Putting on a Disney DVD was like flipping the off
switch. They were drawn in and would sit glued for seventy-five minutes while I
would rush around cleaning and tidying and trying to make tea before the spell
was broken. Without it, no matter how fast I did jobs, they undid them at twice
the speed, and I had no idea what else to use. As they got older, we got better
at not using it so much, but the last couple of years, it’s been on far too
much again. The older boys get up pretty early, and so we let them watch it so
they don’t wake anyone else. The little two couldn’t have as much of my
attention as they wanted because I was busy with Scooby’s needs or tackling the
insane mess we lived in because of our emergency lifestyle, so I used it to
hold their attention too. While we’ve worked on projects to rebuild our lives
since the summer, or we’ve had a difficult day emotionally so we want to keep
confrontation down to the minimum, we’ve allowed it to go back on, sometimes
with two different shows on in different rooms.
But I don’t want us to be a family of slobs – I want us to be a family of achievers, who use our imagination to build and create, rather than sitting and dreaming. So I guess this ties in with resolution #1 too – learning how to be more proactive in our lives, rather than switching off until it’s time to react to something. I need to allow more spaces where the kids are allowed to play and make mess, but I need to be firmer about them tidying up after themselves once they’re done. Again, I don’t really know how to do this, but I know I want to, and therefore I’m going to try and find ways of making it happen. I’m strict when it comes to computer games – they have to earn their time on the Wii or iPad – but I constantly compromise when it comes to TV!
So that’s my list for 2013. Any tips from people who feel they’ve tackled any of this stuff are welcome, as are any offers of people who want to come and clean my kitchen or look after my children so I have more time for blogging ;)
And a happy new year to you all :)