Saturday, December 31, 2011

Decluttering my 2012 Resolutions

Just like last year, I started out with a long list of things I wanted to accomplish in the New Year.  Blame it on being a slightly perfectionist list-maker, but I do like resolutions. Ah, a plan for the new year! A chance to cross things off and become a better version of oneself. Or just get the house organized. Whatever.

It's almost 2012. So here we are again, and I have another long list of things I want to do. Some of them sound familiar, because I didn't really get them done last year. Learning to sew. Take better pictures. Be more relaxed with the kids. Oh, and then there is the basement. Sigh.

Then there are the ones I saved for this year. Like exercise. Take better care of my garden. Bake my own bread. Oh, and countless DIY and organizing projects. Because even I realized I wasn't going to get them done in 2011.

There are two problems with this list.

For one, I am never going to get it all done. I'm going to start too many things at once and at the end get none of them really done. Or just a few.

Also, exactly why am I doing these things in the first place?

I'm sure it would be nice to sew. Stuff for my kids. A library book bag. One of a kind tees. Pillows. Handmade little pouches for their Advent calendar.

There's this image I have in my head. Of me, making things, growing things, cooking things and having fun with my kids, all the while taking great photos of it and posting on my blog. You know, creating all those nice, happy memories.

In reality the kids are probably going to remember not the handmade pouches but mommy being busy all weekend and fighting with her sewing machine.

As you may have noticed, I am slightly crazy. Ok, a lot (just ask my poor husband). Once I make a plan, I want to stick to it. And no, I am not good at being spontaneous. I want to get things done. Cross stuff off my list. So if there is a long list of home projects I was planning on doing, sitting around at the playground for an afternoon or even a Saturday morning feels sort of like a waste of time. There you have it, I admit it.

Just let that sink in for a minute. I set goals for myself because I want my home to be a nice place and end up making my home a stressful place because I obsess over things that didn't get done.

Uhmmm, something is wrong here, don't you think?

So, I made a new list. And this one is entirely preliminary, because I have signed up for Aby's class, starting Thursday. I have a feeling I might be updating this list. Anyhow, here it goes for now:

1) Have more fun with my kids
They are 5 and almost 3 years old. Big brother will start school in Fall. And I don't know if it's the age, some development stage, being one of the big boys at preschool, his parents being too busy with and worried about work, a to-do list obsessed mommy or little brother getting more attention due to his age - maybe it's all of the above, but things haven't really been smooth lately. Yeah, I know, kids are loud and messy and all that. But when the entire family feels worn out from the weekend on a Sunday night, something is going wrong.

And when I think about what would really make my day, make my year and make all of us happier, then it's have more fun with the kids. At the end of the day goals are about making things better, right?

So the plan for 2012 is to have more fun. Start really enjoying each other's company again. Spend some time at the playground every week. Get some fresh air every day. Get ready for school.Practice being quiet for 15 minutes. Do at least one day trip as a family each month. Let the kids help more with household chores, like cleaning their room, emptying the dishwasher, help cooking, do laundry. Ok, the last one might not be so much about having fun, but about doing things together. Instead of mommy being grumpy because she has to clean and pick up toys and sort laundry while the kids are acting up because mommy doesn't play with them.

2) Take better care of myself
When you become a mother, you quickly learn to ignore your own needs. Sleep? Ha! Take a shower? Luxury. A healthy, balanced and warm meal? Hmmm, not unless some leftover pasta plus a half a banana counts. Fashion? Oh come on, that's for those mommies who will show up at the playground wearing high heels.

I could continue. Except that at some point, kids get older. You finally get to go to the bathroom when you need to and not when they finally finish nursing (and wake up from the nap that they took right after nursing, still on your lap, of course). You could cook something that takes no longer than 30 minutes to prepare. You could take some care how you dress. You could moisturize. Drink enough water. Excercise (and no, I'm not taking about vacuuming against that endless supply of crumbs here).

Except that, at least in my case, other things seem more important. After all, you're used to neglect yourself. And at least for me, I sometimes really need to see a result of what I'm doing. Yeah, I know, healthy and happy kids, paycheck, ... yeah. That's wonderful. But I need some more, I want something to show at the end of the day/week/month/year. Something that lasts longer than the two nanoseconds the house stays clean after I've spent two hours getting it clean. So I write those to do and goal lists. And ignore everything else just to cross something off that list.

Well, just like I'm putting my family first in 2012, I'm also going to put myself somewhat higher on the list. And not just because that could help with achieving goal No 1. But because I deserve more attention that a closet in need of cleaning and decluttering. Period.

So in 2012 I plan to take better care of myself. Sleep. Eat right. Moisturize. Excercise, and that's the hardest part. I hate sports. I'm really, really bad at it. And I don't like things I am bad at. But my shoulder hurts so much I can't sleep on it and my belly, oh let's just not talk about it. My shoulder at least was much better the few weeks that I actually stuck to the excercise DVD my coworkers forced me to do gave to me because they care.

But as I said, I need something more. So I'm adding two things here for my creative well-being, too: Photography. And blogging.

I've always loved photography. It helps me save all those family memories and I love doing our annual photo books. So in a way I am sneaking in one of my previous goals here. But I do believe that mastering my camera and shooting in manual mode will be an accomplishment that helps me feel really productive. Also, I want to save the memories of the fun with my kids now and not five years later. And I want to get better at that.

I've also come to love blogging. Where else do you meet people who are as crazy? Who else would listen to me ramble on and on about my goals for 2012?! See.

Besides, don't those productivity experts always say that making yourself accountable helps in achieving goals? See.

I might combine the two and do a photo project. I don't think I can manage a 365 one just yet, but maybe a weekly linkup like Rebecca's {simple things sunday}. 

And that's it. No more goals for 2012.

Well, almost.

I made a list. Of all the things I would like to do. I call them bonus goals. If I cross something off that list, good. If not, that's ok too. Here it goes, and yes, it will sound familiar:

  • bake bread. I really want to try Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day.
  • keep spending less, plus track spending.
  • live with less, or that William Morris quote about nothing in your home that you don't think is beautiful or useful that's been going around blogland. I would love to do this as a project the way Jules from Pancakes and French Fries did, but, well, see above. So I'm just keeping this in mind, because even if I'm not trying, things will come into this house, things will need to be cleaned out and dealt with.
  • garden. One of my flower beds needs some serious re-arranging. And I didn't garden a lot on 2011, but I miss it. Who knows, maybe this is going to be something fun to do with the kids. If not, then maybe the garden will have to be neglected for another year. Oh well.
  • some of what feels like a gazillion DIY and home projects. Declutter the closet, reorganize my newly acquired craft supplies, get a desk for big brother's room... Chances are, some of these are going to be done. But I am not making this a priority. I don't need to, because I love these projects and I know that I'll fit some of them in anyway. But my focus will be something else this year.
  • make progress on the basement. Ugh. 
  • try new recipes. Try things I wouldn't normally do, like this flatbread. 
  • cook more from the cookbooks I already own and the recipes I've already clipped.
  • clean out the pantry and freezer. Use up what's there before buying more stuff.
  • learn to sew. At the very bottom of the list.

I actually look forward to my goals. I can't wait to get started. The only things I know will be hard to get into a habit will be excercising (oh how I hate that), not yelling or snapping at the kids at the end of a long and trying day (suggestions, anyone?????), putting myself before my to do list oh, and adding things to the list.

Do you make resolutions? I'd love to hear.

Have a wonderful start to the new year!

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