Monday, January 4, 2016

Five resolutions to make me a happier professional, mom, wife, person

I've told you which five New Year's resolutions I do NOT plan to attempt, so how about the ones I *am* going to try?

Here they are, listed in the exact order in which I scribbled them out on a notepad on my desk leading up to the Christmas break ...


1. Leave work at work. 

I have always struggled with this, especially now because I work at home. My work is AT home, and sometimes in the exact same ROOM as I'm spending my NON-WORK time, and it gets ... hard to turn my "work-self" off, you know?

My iPhone chimes with an email and BAM, I'm thinking about someone I need to contact. The phone rings and it's someone wanting to set up an interview. But the thing about self-employment is that no one is paying me to think about work, ever. I only get paid for what I DO.

TLDR; Stop devoting any head-space to work when I'm not actively working. 

2. Just DO it. 

I'm not a procrasinator ... or at least, I didn't think so. It turns out, I am, a little bit. I put off annoying emails sometimes with the cool "snooze" feature in Inbox (sidebar: it's seriously life-changing YOU HAVE TO GET INBOX). I put off the calls I don't want to make. I put off the assignments I don't want to write -- not until the last minute, mind you, but enough to make them hang over me.

Gretchen Rubin says it best: Nothing Is More Exhausting Then the Task That's Never Started.

Now? I'm trying to change. I'm plunging in and doing the yucky items first. I'm not letting the irritating email linger in my inbox because I don't want to deal with it yet -- I'm responding and archiving, baby!

3. Make art for art's sake.

I pride myself on being an efficiency monster and cramming an inhuman amount of tasks and accomplishments into every day. I schedule work, I schedule the kids' activities, I schedule Darling Husband's work, I schedule household tasks and errands and bill payments and everything else that *needs* to be done.

Sure, I take time to create, but since I write a DIY column every single week and a kid-friendly version every month (plus do other crafty projects for the blog), it often feels like all of my creating is "work" creating.

When I think of a new project, it's usually along the lines of "Which column is the best fit? My Handmade Home? This DIY House? Or the blog? Hmmm." Sometimes I actually won't attempt the project because it doesn't fit into a specific column and I don't have time to devote to a non-work project (sorry, blog).

TLDR; Find some time to create -- paint, sew, draw, whatever -- without a readership in mind. 

4. Create bonding sessions.

Since I spend so much time tearing around the house with eighty-million things on the go (see above), I feel like I don't spend as much time just ... I don't know, lying on the couch with the kids, cuddling and watching TV? Like so many people on social media are always posting about?

Yes, I love snuggling my babies, but it physically unnerves me to sit still on the couch for long, not doing anything except watching a screen. For ages this made me feel guilty because it seemed like so many people love doing that, but I've accepted that that's just not me. As Gretchen says, What's Fun for Other People May Not Be Fun for You. 

We do Family Movie Night every Friday and all snuggle under the rainbow quilt I (lovingly, tediously) hand-sewed. But that's it -- that's the only time we "bond" together on the couch unless we're reading together. And that's OK.

The other morning, the kids and I spent over an hour drawing together at the table -- planning DIY projects we want to do around the house. D drew an elaborate treehouse-style bedroom with bunks and hidey-holes and ladders and flags, and it was totally awesome. We sew together. We paint together. We make paper-mache creations together. We bake together.

We DO things together, that's our bonding. I even like taking them on errands with me and chatting in the car or as we walk through a store -- that's bonding, too, even if it looks different than snuggling on the couch for hours every day.

TLDR; Look for more of these "sessions" -- even 20 minutes! -- of solid quality time with the kids. Don't compare it to anyone else's idea of bonding. 

5. Choose him.

No, the "h" is not capitalized because I'm not talking about Him (like, Jesus) -- I'm talking about him, Darling Husband.

Choose him. Choose the handsome guy I married. Choose the sweet rugby player I fell for back in Grade 11 when we were babies and had no freaking idea what it meant to be adults or do anything more than hang out in the back of his half-ton truck in the McDonald's parking lot in Bedford.

I've read a lot on the value of putting your husband before your kids, but I can't say I've been doing that. I've been putting the kids first, and often -- sadly -- putting my career before him. He is often the afterthought, the last item on the list, and that's not right.

Yes, we are in a busy season of life. Yes, we work opposite hours these days and go literally four days in a row without seeing each other for more than 20 minutes. But we have to make more of an effort to spend quality time together. Every time we hire a sitter and go out to dinner on a real date, we say "This is so nice! We need to do this more!" and then ... we forget.

I want to stop forgetting.

TLDR; More board games instead of TV shows. More actual dates (without the kids). 

***

So those are my big five resolutions for 2016. What do you think? Can I keep some of them? All of them?

I actually think I'm going to paint them on a canvas so I can look at them all of the time as a reminder -- maybe even make it the background of my phone. I've never been a resolutions person, really, so I will need to see them regularly.

Here's to a great year! 

*she typed before passing out at her desk because ... work? After two weeks of gluttony and barely working? Ugh.*

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