Now that the fun and frantic Christmas holiday has come and gone, it’s time to turn our attention toward the coming of a fresh year. Some see it as an opportunity to set new goals, others consider it to be just like any other time of the year — I have always fallen somewhere in the middle. Some years I make a resolution (or two) while other years I just try to pull myself out of the post-Christmas funk with some purging and organizing, both of my home and my soul. I’m not against resolutions, though. A new year is a great opportunity to remind oneself to reflect and make changes.
But, ever since starting a family, I find myself thinking not of what my own goals are, but more of what we, as a family, can do to improve or embrace life. Sure, my husband can feel free to make his own resolution and, if my three-year-old son (or, for that matter, 6-week-old daughter) understood the idea of self-reflection more, he’d be welcome to, as well. But, much like a family mission statement, family New Year’s resolutions can help us to focus a bit.
So, what’s 2016 going to be about? POSITIVITY. That’s the word of the year for us. We definitely need to embrace the positive in the coming year. Here’s how, in some actual, tangible ways:
– Kinder words and thoughts with our son. I won’t lie: 2015 has brought with it some ugliness. The threenager phase isn’t a myth, and his words have been biting and downright horrific at times. But, our response hasn’t been much better. The tail end of the year, however, we’ve found more of a comfortable balance in our response – finding a way to let the rude words or behavior roll off our backs (training for the teen years, I’m sure) and redirecting him to find the right behavior. We’re also cutting him more slack since we’ve realized that our expectations, at times, are way too lofty for a kid of his age.
Let’s just say that I’m super happy that Santa brought me The Danish Way of Parenting. I’m excited to dive in and see what methods will help with our situation.
– Find small joys by being more present. Don’t get me wrong; part of my husband and my jobs involve lots of social media use and a practical necessity of smartphones. But, we’re far too attached. It’s time for us to admit it to ourselves and give ourselves some limitations, for our kids’ sake. The same goes for our son’s TV viewing — we always hoped to limit it from the beginning, but he watches so much daily between his grandmother’s (I’m not blaming her in the slightest) and our reliance upon it when he gets home at night.
We’ve already put this into effect. (Who says you have to wait until Jan. 1st?) With the abundance of new toys and games from Christmas, there’s lots of opportunity to turn off the TV, put down our phones, and reconnect over Candyland or some pretend grocery shopping. Plus, since we’re not cutting out our use of electronics completely, but cutting back on their use, it will feel more like a treat when we do indulge ourselves in a movie or some Instagram time.
Presence is a wonderful gift, isn’t it? (Corny pun alert!)
– Surround ourselves with the happiest of things. This actually coincides with another book that Santa brought me – The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. No, the house will not be impeccable; part of happiness is accepting what is. But, I know that one of the points in this book is to keep that which sparks joy in your life. While we continue with our ongoing purge and embracing simplicity, this will be a huge help.
This also gives us a focus in our house hunting. We’re determined to find a new home in 2016 since we’ve outgrown our sweet little bungalow. Since we were just two adults moving in and are now two adults, two small kids, and three cats, our priorities have changed (making it more challenging to find something). So, we’re making a list of the things that would make us happiest in a house, plus a list of “wouldn’t it be nice to have?” items that can be overlooked if we find a home that fulfills most of our “happy” list. Our biggest thing would be more space; we think our son would benefit greatly from both outdoor and indoor space since he’s a naturally energetic individual. We’re choosing not to compromise the one item that would give him such joy and, ultimately, give us less stress (since he sleeps better, has better behavior choices, and is generally more at peace when he’s had some freedom to roam and run).
– Letting go of the small things. It’s true: don’t sweat the small stuff. Picking a fight when your husband put the dishes back in the wrong place or folded the clothes wrong is a surefire way to live a miserable life, and I’ll admit that there are times that I get frustrated about this stuff. But, I’ve recently learned to look at the positive behind the action: at least he DID the laundry and dishes (without being asked)!
This can easily apply to out little guy, too. Sure, he put his toys back in the wrong place (and it needed to be completely re-done), but at least he’s learning to put things away without an argument. The gingerbread cookies he made with me looked pretty rough, but the joy with which he stood beside me using those cookie cutters and dripping frosting was infectious; it would break my heart to stamp that spark out.
– Planning joyful activities, big and small. Being pregnant, I didn’t have a ton of energy for lots of family trips this past year. Our one “big” family vacation was 100% for our son to “Sesame Place,” celebrating our last summer with him as an only child. This year, I’m hoping to take at least one of our “there’s something for everyone” trips. Plus, he’s still of the age where a random side trip to a new playground is enough to make his week.
But, I’m also hoping to turn our sights on the fun that can be found in our own backyard. We have one of the largest national park areas in the country that we simply don’t utilize enough. From family-friendly hikes to beaches to campsites, I’m looking forward to getting out there to have fun and recharge this summer. Toss in some classes (probably kindermusik and maybe swim or dance classes), utilizing some local walking trails, and hopefully play dates…the possibilities for joy are endless.
What are your plans for 2016? Are you making any resolutions (whether personal or family-related)?