Published January 14, 2013
BUSY MAMA: I resolve to be less stressed about my resolutions
Here’s what I love about January: Thanks to the tradition of resolutions, it’s essentially a clean slate. It’s a time to make lists, think about personal goals and reset the clock for dieting, home organization and anything else that you slacked on in 2012. I interviewed a couple recently who explained they didn’t make resolutions. Instead, they compiled an annual list of “unresolved issues” around their house that they wanted to get to in the upcoming months. I told them that I really liked that idea, and the top of my list would include something like, “Put away Christmas decorations before President’s Day.” (Last year, I had all of the decorations packed on New Year’s Day, but it took weeks for those totes to make it from the hallway onto shelves in the garage.) Anyway, call them unresolved issues, resolutions, goals or just dreams, here’s what I’m hoping to accomplish in 2013: 1. Take better care of No. 1. This is a big one, and it goes beyond reducing that scary number on the bathroom scale. Yes, of course, I want to eat better, exercise more and fit into smaller, cuter clothes for summer vacation. But I also want to do a better job taking care of those body maintenance issues like visiting the dentist before it’s one of those I-think-my-face-is-going-to-fall-off emergencies. I don’t seem to have a problem getting my kids to their medical and dental checkups. But I need to do a better job getting my appointments on the calendar, as well. 2. Be more realistic and embrace, or at least accept, that our house is going to be a little (sometimes a lot) messy. I’ve had countless resolutions in the past about getting more organized, doing a better job at cleaning the house and staying on top of chores. And where did it get me? It made me stressed, crabby and disappointed. It turns out you can buy all of the laundry hampers and toy organizational systems you want, but just having them in your house doesn’t mean habits will easily change, well, at least in our house. I don’t want to totally give up, and end up on a reality show about hoarders, or something. But I’ve also decided to stop pressuring myself into thinking it’s possible to maintain a perfectly kept house with three kids, two black labs who are convinced they belong indoors as much as possible, a career and a busy life that revolves around my kids’ sports and activities that are outside of our home. Instead, I’ve decided to change my attitude about housework. Do I really need to have a spotless house before I invite friends over for coffee? (In the past, I’d say yes, and then hate that I never had a house clean enough to have friends over.) Do I really need to profusely apologize if a friend or relative drops by unannounced and sees toys and clothes all over the floor, and dishes in the sink? Most friends who drop by would know anyway that my house is only super clean for special occasions or, ahem, when I think my mother-in-law might stop by for a visit. I’ve always been envious of one of my friend’s absolutely immaculate houses, and she recently let it slip that she has professional help. And she mentioned that her house once looked just like mine when her boys, who are now college-age, were my sons’ ages. It made me feel like there is hope for me to have a clean house, some day. It also was a good reminder that if I ever have enough money, maybe I could hire a housekeeper. 3. Speaking of money, I want to continue trying to cut expenses, create a healthy savings and live on a budget that is within our means. During the past three years, my husband and I have come a long way, and, thankfully, we’re no longer buying groceries with a credit card on that last week before a payday. But we can still do better. I am constantly in awe of the creative ways people find to save money. I’ve done some couponing and recently saved 25 percent on my grocery bill. But I want to get that grocery bill down even lower. I also want to find ways to make better use of our leftovers and throw away less food. I recently began buying milk when it’s on sale, and freezing it, a tip that I learned from a website about saving money. All you do is open the jug, remove about a half cup, put the lid on, put it in a plastic sack in case it leaks and set it upright in the freezer. It takes about two days in the refrigerator to thaw out, and you’ll have to shake it up before each use. Since we use lactose-free milk, which can be $7-$8 a gallon, it’s really helped us save money when we can buy it on sale for $4-$6 a gallon. And my kids say they can’t taste the difference. I also am trying to replace my daily stop at a coffeehouse with espresso that’s made from home – but that’s one of those habits I’ll need to ease into once all of my gift cards from Christmas are spent. I’ve done the math, and I know that it’s a luxury that I need to scale back on. It’s still early, but I’m feeling pretty good about the progress on my New Year’s goals. If you would like to share your resolutions or tips that might help me do a better job keeping mine, please email them to firstname.lastname@example.org, or add a comment to this story at theolympian.com/busymama. Lisa Pemberton is one busy mama, raising three children while working as a reporter at The Olympian. Reach her at email@example.com.