With the hectic schedule of the holidays winding down, and as children begin to settle in to their normal routines of class and school life, now is a great time for mom to make time for herself and revitalize for a new year ahead. When mom is at her best, the family will follow suit, so take this time to reflect on the past year and toss out what isn’t working, keep what is working and examine the things you are wanting in your life. Take charge so that you and your family can feel energized and refocused on what matters most.
Set Aside Time for Reflection With children back in school, it should be a little easier to set aside some personal time. While your children do homework, sit down with a pen and paper and reflect back on the last 12 months in key areas and moments in your life: social, school, teachers, work, relationships, schedule headaches, meltdowns and success. What are the things that you would like to change this year? Write them down so you can see them every day. Make these resolves as important as any other to-do you have on your list. Perhaps one of the things you most desire is to have more time to do things for yourself. Regrets, no matter what they are, should be listed on your reflection list. Once the list is in place and written in ink, slowly begin to work changes into your life.
Dreaming, wishing or thinking about things you wish or hope to do makes it difficult to make them a reality. Everyone wants more hours in a day. Including your top items on a task list within your set priorities will make it easier for you to see them through to completion. Try to place the list someplace where you can see it every day. Treat the list with importance. Frame it or paste it into your datebook so that the new affirmations and wishes are with you all year long, thus making it easier to make them come true.
Share Resolutions with the Family Once you have a good idea of what you would like to see happen in the new year, sit down with the family and share the list with everyone. It is important that everyone understands the new value you are placing on your resolutions. Children want to see their parents be happy, content and fulfilled. In essence, children love to please, so sharing the list of resolutions with them will spur an in-home support network to help you reach your new goals. Take a warm and friendly approach to this conversation. This is not a meeting; it’s you sharing and being honest with your family about the things you feel you are missing out on and what you want to do to make sure you make them a part of your life this year. You can open the conversation with your children and ask them if there is anything that they would like to see mom do more of. You may be pleasantly surprised by what they will say. You may just hear, “Mom, I would really love it if you made your favorite meal more often. We are all so happy when you make that for us.” Or maybe your honesty will spur honesty of their own and a candid, “Oh, gosh, mom. Please go to yoga class with Kathy, because if I have to hear you say you miss going to yoga one more time, I am going to be very upset.” Remember to keep the conversation as positive and fluid as possible. Explain to your family that these are things that will make you feel happy and better about yourself. When you take this approach, nothing will sound demanding; it’s your admission that you have dreams and needs too. A healthy expression of personal needs can often lead to a healthy dosage of fulfillment.
Start Right Away After you have shared your hopes for the coming year with your family, start implementing them as soon as possible. For example, if you love to swim and want to start again, schedule a date as soon as possible. Prearrange and preset any scheduling, carpool changes or child-care needs in advance. Write it in your calendar just like a doctor’s appointment. Planning weekly and monthly will give you the time to coordinate and arrange schedules. Enlist close family members, friends and neighbors for support. Sharing your aims with trusted individuals outside your family will rally friends to be supportive of your new goals this year. If you want to start painting again, go out and buy a canvas and paint something. The more you do things for you, the easier it will be for it to become the rule, not the exception. Acting decisively with ownership, commitment and perseverance to meet a personal goal is a demonstration of self-love, self-worth and strength – all of which are great examples for your children and can help them to see the benefits of well-laid plans. Your children will enjoy time on their own, and you’ll return more engaged, alert and happy.
Don’t Get Discouraged Life has its way of getting in the way of even the most thought-out plans. It just happens. You may find yourself in a situation where you are running to the pharmacy for cough medicine, or up to your neck in paperwork that is making it impossible to meet your girlfriends for book club or getting out for your evening walk. Don’t let the bumps in the road get you down. Nothing is perfect, and even the most organized people find themselves having to juggle last-minute surprises into their schedule. When these kinds of things pop up, try picking another day to make your own, and move on. Motherhood is a full-time job; keeping yourself recharged, refreshed and balanced are keys to being the best you can be. So if the recharge session can’t happen as you had originally planned, go with it. As long as you squeeze it into another time, your resolution will be met. And if not, there is always next week! Don’t beat yourself up over things you can’t control.
When moms attain a good balance between their needs and everyone else’s, everyone is happy. It is important to take time out and re-examine what you need this winter. Build meeting those needs into your life and experience the power of a winter of refreshment. Nothing will perk up your children more than seeing you doing what you love to do. And when children see mom happy, they’re happy.