This week on the Spawned Show, we closed out our year (or, we’re opening the new one if you’re listening now) with a really good talk about New Year’s resolutions: The good, the bad, and the very very broken.
I really love Kristen’s perspective about calling them goals, not resolutions. And she has great tips on phrasing things positively, and being specific (“I will research and sign up for a yoga class this week”) which is far more effective than the general goals we tend to make this time each year (“I will stay fit and get healthy.”)
Real Simple has a list of lots of specific New Year’s resolutions if you need help in that arena.
But what really resonated with me most was our talk about Gretchen Rubin’s fantastic one-word New Year’s resolutions idea, in which you think about your upcoming year in terms of a single-word theme, and all the ways it can apply to your life.
I think it’s so smart, because we all know that when you pick one arbitrary date — oh, say January 1? — to start off on a new path and totally change your life, you’re probably setting yourself up for failure. (Especially if you’re starting off the year hungover or sleep-deprived.) However there’s something about knowing you have a full year to work towards an overall goal that feels more attainable and positive.
In fact, I like this one-word resolution idea so much, we decided to try it in our own home this year.
Of course the kids were like, wha-ah? So I explained that a single word can be like a mantra, or a guiding principle in your life. We discussed all the ways you can think about a single word and what kind of words would best fit the kinds of people they want to be, or represent the things they want to focus on in their lives.
So we all went around the table New Year’s morning over pancakes and bacon, and we each chose a word: Friends, Courage, Time, Try, Ahead.
(Great themes, right?)
(Also, my 10-year-old would like you to know that “I drew a skull on ahead just because I like skulls.” So…don’t read more into it than that.)
Next I printed out everyone’s word on a single sheet of white paper, and they took the time to decorate them how they’d like and make them feel personal. This way, the kids could keep them by their bed, hang them next to a calendar in their room, tuck them into a school notebook — wherever it would be most motivating.
As for me, I went with Clean. And not just because it looked best straight from the printer.
I had mentioned this word as an example of a one-word resolution on the show, but the more I thought about it afterward, the more that word called to me.
There are just so many ways that I think that clean can help guide me in a positive way this year. Maybe you too?
A clean break with the past
Parting with friends who aren’t really friends, years-old conflicts, bad feelings or grudges that don’t move me forward. I’m pretty good at this now, but I love the prospect of keeping it in mind all year long and using it to strip away unnecessary baggage.
That also may mean untethering from (I hate the word “unfriending”) someone on Facebook I knew in grade school, but who doesn’t really seem like someone I want to get to know better now. Apologies in advance.
A cleaner home
I will never go to bed every night with the dishes done, and wake up every morning and make my bed. (Sorry, Kristen!) I just know that about myself and I feel guilty when I make resolutions like “make my bed every day” then break them, oh…on pretty much January 3.
However, what I can do throughout the year is part with with more clutter; make more frequent runs to Housing Works and Goodwill and Baby Buggy with donations; and simply keep my night table from looking like an open-air junk drawer. When I do all this, I find my mind is clearer too.
I can also use Catalog Choice or PaperKarma more often to unsubscribe from junk mail and catalogs, which is a nice benefit for the planet, too.
The Konmari method of tidying, by the way, is the most successful I’ve ever been with any decluttering method. Ever. On the podcast, I even share how I finally got rid of that one Max Mara dress that’s been hanging in my closet unworn for about decade, and why the heck I was even hanging onto it in the first place. If you’re the type who’s rolling your eyes at the idea of thanking all of your belongings…well, so was I. Give it a shot.
More help with cleaning
Kristen and I discussed making family resolutions, and how functioning in a more cohesive way as a family benefits everyone in the household. More commitment from everyone to household chores is going to be a big one from us this year. Now I know I am not the only mom in the world who has trouble asking for help; either because I hold onto the ridiculously notion that unloading the dishwasher or wiping down the coffee table is “my job,” or because sometimes it’s just easier to do things myself than to correct my kids 17 times. And I plan on getting better at that.
A clean break between work time and family time
This is something that’s especially hard when you’re a work-at-home parent. A huge help for me: Kristen’s tips on how to put down the phone and better manage your work-life balance.
I already have turned off notifications on my social networks with a few important exceptions. But I’d like to create better No Phone Zone boundaries, especially between about 6PM and when the kids go to bed.
I will never stop eating crap entirely. I love my grilled cheese sandwiches on cold days (okay, on any days) and sometimes there is no more perfect comfort food than Cinnamon Pop-Tarts or a piece of Entenmann’s Crumb Cake. But I do find that if we don’t have all that stuff in the house, I’m less likely to eat it. If we don’t have soda in the house, I don’t drink soda. If we have carrot sticks and hummus instead of chips, I will eat those instead. And the same goes for the kids.
In fact, on this episode of Spawned (episode 28) we talk about the “Christmas 15” and all the hilarious ways that so-called experts (i.e. magazine writers) suggest you keep off the weight. We think you’ll laugh at the suggestions too — let’s just say that bringing your own toothpicks to a party in order to keep track of the number of hors d’oeuvres you eat is way more work than simply showing up having already eaten, or just opting for the guac or hummus instead of the onion dip.
Of course if you want to try a food cleanse, you can give it a shot with one of these 5 healthy detox programs that don’t starve you. I admit they’re probably not for me. However I am up for trying Kristen’s cool pick of the week — wheatgrass shots — and heading to One Lucky Duck in Chelsea Market to see if it does as much for me as it’s doing for her. It’s even helped her cut back to one cup of coffee a day.
A clean conscience
We are all human, and we are all imperfect. But I think there are small things I can do day to day to ensure I’m living as the kind of person I hope to be: Did I pick up that ATM receipt that blew out of my hand and onto the sidewalk? Did we rinse out the take-out container before putting it in recycling? Did I hold the elevator for the guy behind me, even though he was talking to a friend and taking a realllllly long time to get there? Did I debate with a friend on Facebook about politics using a respectful tone? Did I stand up for justice and call out racism, sexism or intolerance when I saw it, as hard as that can be some time?
And did I let a friend know she had spinach in her teeth?
(Ha, that’s for you, Kristen.)
My mom always told me she’d ask herself at the end of the each day, “was I the best person/parent I could have been today, all things considered?” The answer doesn’t always have to be yes. But I think that being mindful about small actions throughout the day can make huge changes in my psyche.
A clean inbox
This is the bane of my existence, as I’ve described before. I worship those of you who manage to keep up with your email day to day, without it getting in the way of productivity. So yesterday I took action! I spent a few quiet hours using the Unroll Me app, and unsubscribed from or “rolled up” 6000 (!!) subscriptions. Dedicating these few hours can save me hundreds of hours throughout the year.
I’m also going to start with my inbox zero trick this weekend. There’s something about not having 11,000 emails staring back at me from your inbox each day that makes me feel less stressed and even more productive.
Cleaning up my language:
I admit that kids and cursing is low on my list of issues in life. But when you hear your kid say, “that scared the crap out of me!” I think okay, maybe I can be a little better in that department.
Right now, the word CLEAN is propped up on my (yet-to-be-cleaned) nightstand, and it surprises me how the mantra feels more inspiring than judgy. Somehow knowing that this theme is bigger than any one big incomplete resolution, looming over me fills me with promise. Or maybe it’s just confirmation that this is the right word for me right now, and I look forward to seeing other ways it can play out in my life this year.
And yeah, maybe I’ll get to the gym at some point too. Cleaner living?
To hear more about resolutions, check out our final podcast of the year, Spawned Show Episode 27: The good, the bad and the broken. You can listen through this link on iTunes, or listen right here on Soundcloud. And thanks so much to Gretchen Rubin for the awesome idea.
If you like our show, be sure to subscribe to Spawned on iTunes, Stitcher, or your favorite podcasting app. And if you have questions, comments, or stories you want to share about your own resolutions, you can always email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or find us on Twitter and Facebook @coolmompicks using the hashtag #SpawnedShow.
We’d really love to hear yours! And hey…one word fits really nicely on Twitter. Or on your kid’s door.
My 8-year-old daughter’s one word resolution for 2016
Happy new year everyone!