I pretty much stopped making resolutions a long time ago. Anything I care enough about, I'll do regardless of whether it's on a list or not (even if it's written in loopy pre-teen handwriting, includes something about holding hands with a boy and is rolled up and sealed with wax. Yes, I did that. Dear god I hope none of those documents are still in existence anywhere).
I do tend to lose focus every now and then, though, and so what I am doing this year is writing sort of a master To Do list for the entire year. Some items are actual goals I'd like to achieve, others are more like reminders of how I want to live my life. It'll be nice when I start to feel a little foggy to have this list to look back at and re-focus.
1. Actively practice random acts of kindness.
I'm sort of a sensitive soul, and while it can be easy to hurt my feelings, it's also easy to totally make my day with just a single smile, genuine offer of help or other small kindness that isn't obligatory. I always try to go out of my way to be friendly, to wish people a nice day, to offer a helping hand to a mom with her hands full or an older person that looks to be struggling. But even beyond that, I love figuring out one little unexpected way I can make someone's life a little better, even just for a moment. It helps to be a natural observer...I feel like sometimes I can intuit ways that someone might need a little help they'd never think to ask for. This is a reminder to me to put those observations into action.
2. Read 50 books, at least 5 of which are nonfiction, and keep a list of them.
I could probably shoot for a much higher number than 50, but I want to avoid spending November and December reading crappy books purely because they are short and I can get through them quickly. Also, I think my husband would like me to actually talk to him now and then. I'm terrible about branching out and reading nonfiction, although my book club has at least two on the list for the next few months which will help.
3. Continue this blog.
I'm definitely not going to commit to posting a certain number of times a week, but I'd like to continue regular-ish posting and try to move away from just detailing our activities (at least once in awhile).
4. Find a place for regular, structured exercise in my weekly schedule.
Ugh, such a cliche it's almost painful. I live a pretty active life; in general, unless I'm at the computer or eating meals, I'm on the go. And in the summer time, we spend so much time at playgrounds and similar that I can get my heart rate up without relying on the gym. That's much harder in the winter though and, while I am naturally thin, I'm rapidly heading towards being pretty out of shape. Not to mention how good physical exercise is for my mental health and self-esteem. I have a gym membership with free childcare...there is no excuse for not achieving this one.
5. Go paperless wherever possible.
Confession: I still pay a lot of my bills with actual paper checks. Because I like to. I like the ritual of writing out the checks, noting the check number and date paid on the statement and filing them away. Not because I EVER reference these, but because it's how my parents did it. I'm left with folders upon folders of useless paper though, and because I don't have a shredder they just build up. So, I'd like to go through all my bills and sign up for auto-pay wherever possible. If nothing else, I can save the stamps I'd normally use on bills and instead send fun mail to people (see #1).
6. Continue to make connections and nurture friendships.
Friends are just so important. Especially when you're a stay-at-home mom, and even more so when you don't have family nearby. It's not always easy to convince my homebody children to willingly get out of the house to join various activities, and quite frequently they do embarrassing things like unwrapping gifts under someone else's Christmas tree. I know I can't let that stuff prevent me from staying connected though.
7. Potty train my daughter and enjoy some diaper-free days.
After our attempt with the sticker chart, B still didn't seem overly interested in using the potty. She goes most nights before her bath and will occasionally tell me when she needs to go. For the most part though? I am met with serious resistance if I suggest she might like to sit on the potty at a time when it does not suit Her Royal Highness. I am going to have to put some thought into how to best manage this effort with her particular personality.
8. Complete the plan we hatched a few days ago to redesign our downstairs space.
We currently have an entire room in our basement that gets used about twice a year. My husband has been wanting to install a bar down there to make it more conducive to adult entertaining (hmm, that doesn't sound right) but I have been unable to envision how to incorporate it into our current set-up. A particularly compelling deal on Craigslist kind of forced the conversation, however, and we were able to come to an arrangement that suits us both. I get to tackle turning the unused room (currently referred to as the gym because it holds a weight bench that no one ever uses) into a new playroom for the kids and Chris will convert the current playroom into a Man Cave of sorts. The main family room down there will remain neutral territory. I'm pretty excited to get this project going, and I think it will add value to our house.
9. Continue to take my kids to the library once a week (ish).
I'm really fortunate in that our closest branch of the library is very child-friendly. Sometimes my kids are complete monsters and the trip is fraught with grabbed upper arms and hissed threats to leave early. More often though, they play nicely with the wonderful playspace, we come home with new books to read before bed and I can usually grab 45 seconds to run through the adult stacks and get a few for myself. I really want to continue to do this so that visiting library is entrenched in their habits as they get older. I do everything I can to foster a love of reading in them and I so, so hope that one day they will love books as much as I do.
10. Avoid complacency in my marriage.
Chris and I met 11 years ago in January and we've been married for eight. I don't really write a lot about our relationship here because, well, some topics are a little more off-limits than others. I haven't ever really discussed with him how much he is comfortable with me sharing, so I'm erring on the side of privacy. I don't think he'd mind me saying though, that I think we have a really great partnership. We're very different in many ways but also very compatible and I think we are both generally mindful of nurturing our relationship. It takes work though. With small kids and jobs and all the technological distractions these days, it's pretty easy to let the days slip by without really checking in with each other. And if you're in it for the long haul - which we are - there is a certain amount of growth and change and adaptation that takes place over time. Perhaps this is really just a long-winded way of saying More Date Nights!
I could definitely keep writing but 10 feels like a nice round number. We're celebrating New Year's Eve with friends tomorrow evening, so I'll sign off for the year now. Regardless of how 2011 treated you, I hope nothing but the best for 2012.