January 12, 2015

new year's resolutions of a working mom

Disclaimer: I'm not a fan of making random or even carefully-planned New Year's resolutions. I do, however, believe in making changes when it seems necessary. In fact, I have seen the need and desire for some adjustments start to emerge over the past several months -- enough to declare to myself that I am willing to make some changes.

Unless a person is truly ready to take initiative, change is hard. In addition, what the resolution optimists don't talk about is that real change takes time. It takes initiative and intention plus a series of small steps to accomplish something bigger. In my case, the changes I want to make stem from awareness of things and people around me along with a desire to please God. After all, I am blessed in order to be a blessing. So here are the changes I'm making.

As a working mom, I will take time to incorporate different habits without putting pressure on daily life. Here's what that looks like for me:
  • Getting healthier. My relationship with food has declined, and I often eat for stress as much as hunger. Actually, I don't feel hungry very often because I snack long before I feel hunger pangs. I can easily be more mindful of quantity as well as quality. I am also getting more intentional with exercise. It's hard to squeeze it in, and way too easy to blow it off. But if I want to be healthy as I get older, I have to keep going.
  • Nurturing relationships. As my pastor pointed out yesterday, there is no cumulative value of allowing urgent things to interfere with the important things. How often am I browsing Facebook instead of making eye contact with my husband or son? How often am I watching a sitcom instead of checking in on a friend or loved one?
  • Organizing my home. It seems like I'm on a never-ending mission to get more organized, yet I have cubby bins that sit empty and my son's room continually cries out for underbed toy storage. I've started organizing my kitchen by (finally!) buying a real kitchen island that doubles as a breakfast bar, and implementing wall organizers so my kitchen drawers aren't bursting at the seams (see Ikea's Fintorp system). I honestly feel like my brain is less cluttered when my house is, and so this is part housecleaning and part therapy.
  • Nurturing myself. Actually, all of the above are things that nurture me but in a less direct way. At least a couple of days a week, I give myself permission to do something slightly indulgent that makes me feel more peaceful. That might be practicing guitar, taking an unscheduled long walk, or cooking something that looks too delicious to pass up (even if I think my family might hate it -- hello, green soup!). I have to remind myself that some days, putting away the dishes is just busywork, and sitting on the couch resting is more productive.
You'll notice I chose bullets instead of numbers, and that's on purpose. A numbered list might indicate priority, and the priorities shift every day or hour. I can never get everything done on a given day, but I can always choose one thing.

You may also notice I didn't create SMART goals (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, timed). This is also on purpose. Because, um, I'm giving myself the grace to do things gradually without the pressure of a timeline. In other words, that kind of structure just overwhelms me.

As my pastor also pointed out, there is a cumulative value to investing small amounts of time in small activities over a long period of time. So I'm taking my time.