My big organization push usually comes in the beginning of the school year. New school supplies, new Name Bubbles, new schedules, it's a great time to start fresh and get on track with a new routine, and it usually goes swimmingly till about Christmas break.
Around that time of year, the routine sort of goes out the window. No school, no after school activities, no set routine, and we sort of go into a festive and fun chaos for a couple weeks. Picture snow boots and mittens everywhere, new toys added to the mix, Christmas cookies for snack, letting the kids stay up past their bedtime to watch movies on the couch together, holiday pjs get worn all day until they go sledding, candy cane pieces scattered throughout the house. It's a free for all, and we love it.
But then, reality sets in, and I find myself having to reset pretty much everything we put in place in September. The thing is, it's perfect timing for us. We can get rid of some old toys, the fall clothes that they outgrew, haul out all of the winter ski and snowboard stuff, and get back on track with our routine and a chance to clean up our eating (aka less caramel, more veggies).
I don't call any of it a "resolution" though, more like a winter refresh, a re-focus, just getting back on track. Here are some of my biggest tips for your own winter refresh, your "resolutions-lite".
Out with the old, in with the new, literally. To make room for the influx of new toys and gifts, clean out the playroom and the closets and get rid of anything that is just taking up space. Donate it, toss it, consign it, just get rid of it. Need some help? Click here for some easy steps to take to get rid of the clutter now. I usually do this at the same time I'm taking down the holiday decorations, just one big clean and organization binge to get things straight again.
Review your chores/responsibilities list. Are the chores age appropriate? Maybe there is something new to add, something to take off that wasn't quite working out. This is also a good time to evaluate what is going on in school, does your child need more time to read at home after school, more time to review a certain subject? Click here for some printables to incorporate into your routines.
Take time for you. I talk about my Book Club on here a lot (find our favorite book here, you're gonna fly through it), and the reason is because I LOVE it. It's a rare time for me to sit with some friends, talk, laugh, and just relax. It's one of my favorite things. But I do have nights where the house is a mess, the kids are crazy, and everything is chaos and I think "Maybe I should just skip it and sit on the couch in my sweats..." but I don't, and I am always glad I push myself to get out and do something. Whether it's a pilates class or an art class or a book club, find something just for you, even just once a month, and commit to taking the time for yourself (or when you have to bring the baby along, that works too). Trust me, I know how hard it can be to find the time, and if you can't, don't beat yourself up. Just keep an eye out for finding a few hours to recharge once in a while.
This one also goes hand in hand with finding time, and that is to say no. Make 2017 the year you respectfully decline. Take something off your plate that you don't want to do, or don't have time to do. This will free up time to choose something you actually do want to do, something you need to do, or to just do nothing (also a great choice).
Shake up your family's eating habits. Things get a little egg noggy and sugar filled at our house around the holidays so by the time the new year rolls around I'm ready to clean up the act a little bit. I head to my favorite site for recipes to give me some great inspiration, and I start with the lunchboxes. No more tiny chocolate Santas in there guys, sorry.
Winter is a great time for us to recommit to eating dinner together at the table every night. When it gets dark so early the kids are usually indoors by 5pm so it makes it easier for us all to share a meal. Some experts believe kids who share meals with their family have been shown to do better in school, partly because having parents ask about what’s going on at school encourages them to do better and handle problems that arise at school in an appropriate manner.
Some also believe that sharing meals together can cut down on the chances that your child will become involved with drugs or alcohol, since when teens get involved in things they shouldn’t, it’s usually because they’re trying to get their parents’ attention, and children who eat meals with their family already have the attention they are looking for.
Schedule dates. Not just date nights, dates with the kids, time for just you and them. Don't wait around for the opportunity to present itself, make it a priority, and even if it's just a Starbucks date at the local Target, that one on one time is so valuable to you and to them.
Sleep habits. This one is a MAJOR one for us this new year. All of us sleeping in our own beds (I'm talking to YOU, two year old!). Think you know how much sleep your kids should be getting? Check out this chart to see if they're getting what they need and change it up accordingly.
Finally, go easy on yourself. Be realistic. Don't get discouraged if things descend into chaos two weeks from now (because they will). Just regroup and refocus and keep going. It's a work in progress, this parenting thing. Giving yourself a break and learning how to move on productively also teaches your children how to hone this life skill. So next time there's a screw up, just chalk it up as a learning opportunity for the kids! Mother of the Year, that's you, and you, and you, and you, and me. Happy New Year guys. xoxo