New Year's Resolution Themes for 2016

Photo Credit: Ashley Ella Design

Like many people, I look forward to the New Year as a fresh start.

In the past, my New Year’s resolutions would be a list of the specific things I wanted to be, do, or have within that year. While it is important to be specific when putting things out into the universe, sometimes my list would include things that were not for my highest good - a la the dreaded warning “be careful what you wish for” - and other times it would be a disappointment if there were too many items left on the list at the end of the year.

So, I began to organize my resolutions around three major themes or areas for self-improvement instead of creating a list of wants. I found that using this method increased my chance of succeeding in my goals - limiting my resolutions to self-improvement themes eliminated wasting time chasing fleeting desires, and sticking with only three major themes forced me to focus on the most important things that I wanted to improve on. At the end of the year, I will grade how well I did making choices that supported my themes for the year.  

After thinking long and hard, I decided that this will be the year that:

I will follow my curiosity.

For many reasons, I admire and am inspired by Elizabeth Gilbert. Recently, I came across her Super Soul Sunday talk about living a life by following your curiosity rather than pursuing a passion. Her message is exactly what I needed to hear. You see, I thought I had a passion for a career that I pursued and attained, but later realized that it wasn’t what I thought it would be. I found myself feeling lost and depressed. I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t know how to live my life without passion and I didn’t know how to find a new passion.

But thanks to Ms. Gilbert’s message, it is liberating to know that it is OK if I don’t know what my burning passion is or if I don’t have one at all. Instead of doing nothing or trudging along until I find a passion, I am excited to try new things and live a curiosity-driven life. This blog is one of the ways that I am holding myself accountable to explore and try the things that I am curious about and to share what I’m learning with others.

I will learn how to take care of myself.

Jada Pinkett-Smith

Here is another video that really spoke to me. Until you raise a child, you cannot fully appreciate how exhausting life with little ones can be. I am the first to admit that I underestimated what it would cost me to become a mother. After all, how hard is it to feed, clothe, and play with kids day after day? As it turns out, INCREDIBLY HARD! And while it is also incredibly rewarding, if you aren’t careful, it is easy to burn out and lose yourself in the process. You go around taking care of little humans who need you for everything and by the end of the day you realize that you completely ignored your own needs. Just like Jada talks about in her video, if you focus only on the happiness of your children and husband, you will forget how to make yourself happy. Soon resentment sets in and you start holding your family responsible for the state of your own happiness. In other words, you turn into a guilt-mongering mommy martyr and that is not who I want to be.

This year, I intend to re-learn how to take care of myself so that I will have the necessary energy and resources required to take care of my family without turning into a mommy martyr.  

I will put my phone away and set aside time to focus on the kids.

This may be the hardest resolution to keep because checking my phone is often an unconscious habit.
Being with the little ones all day, I frequently use my phone as an escape to get some “me” time. It was way too easy to get sucked into the endless scrolling and constant updates on social media. Soon, I was checking my phone every minute like a crack addict without even thinking about it.

Recently, I imagined how I would feel if the teen-aged versions of my children were unable to peel their eyes away from a screen long enough to have a decent conversation with me. Needless to say, it was not a good feeling. In fact, it was an awful feeling.

I realize that despite my best efforts that scenario may happen anyway, but I should still strive to be a good role model and lead by example.

So, this year, I will set limits on when I use my phone so that I can be present and have meaningful interactions with my children while they still desperately want my attention.

And there you have it - my three themes for the New Year! To a blessed and successful 2016!

Creating a family schedule

I have the current good fortune to work part-time from home so that I can be the primary caretaker to our two young children. While there is no greater joy for me than being with my babies, taking care of young children all day long while trying to get any other work done is EXHAUSTING. 

Battle worn and over-caffeinated, I would often pose the question to other moms who I believed had some secret to surviving. Clearly, they must right? They had their children dressed, out the door by 9:00 am, and in bed by 7:00 pm every day. I was lucky to be out of my pajamas and the house before noon.

The secret, I was told, is to have a schedule and clear routines so that everyone knows what happens next. Sounds easy enough, but for someone who grew up winging it from day to day, I found myself rebelling against the idea of creating a "schedule." "That's no fun!" I thought. "Having a set schedule sounds too rigid and boring." 

So I continued winging it until I realized that I was quickly overwhelmed. Everything - work, kids, and household responsibilities - screamed for my attention all at once. I would often find myself feeling flustered and ineffective. Because I didn’t set aside time every day to work, I ran into the problem of pulling all-nighters in order to meet deadlines. In turn, I became a grumpy, impatient version of myself, and was not the parent that I wanted to be.

So, I decided to give this idea of having a daily schedule another look.


I figured there must be an ideal schedule on the internet that we could just copy. However, after spending way too much time on Google, it was apparent that there was no "perfect" schedule that would solve all of my problems. Every family is different, and I needed to create our own schedule to fit our needs. 

To start, I found this fantastic Daily Schedule {via Confessions of a Homeschooler} on Pinterest and decided to use it as my outline. It has the basic elements of everything that seemed ideal for our purposes. Next, I removed the daily curriculum and changed the flow of events to mirror the times and routines for lunch, physical activity, and naps set by a local Montessori preschool that we are interested in. For extra credit, I also created a morning and evening routine chart to help our toddler learn the basics of taking care of himself and his belongings on his own.

In the end, there is a lot of flexibility built into our schedule. Our son is still quite young and he has many years of formal education in the future. So, while I plan to introduce him to more of a structured play environment and various Montessori style activities, I don't expect that we will be focused on doing a set curriculum during the week (e.g., language activities on Mondays, math on Tuesdays, and so forth and so on). Rather, we use that time for activities or to attend play dates, etc. We also included limited screen time into the schedule, but only as a means to restrict when he is allowed to watch his favorite shows.


I originally thought that having a schedule would be stifling and boring. But, it is actually quite freeing. We are still open to changing things up for special circumstances, but it is nice to have a regular schedule to come back to that is comfortable and gets everyone on the same page again. Having a schedule and routines give me a feeling of being more in control of the day – as much as is humanly possible with two babies – instead of having the day control me.

So, what about your family? What kinds of routines and schedules do you have in place? Do you feel that you are able to maintain a schedule in your family or is it easier for you to play everything by ear? We want to hear – let us know!