Feeling overwhelmed by New Year's goals? Make mini-resolutions instead!

It’s January, and everyone’s talking about resolutions. And in the spirit of the new year, I’ve made a few of my own. But with all this focus on Important Life Changes, it’s easy to let small-but-important details go – especially if you tend to be a big-picture thinker like me.

So this month instead of making big, life-changing declarations, I’m focusing on making small changes. You know, those little things that you know you really ought to do, and probably wouldn’t take long at all, but you keep putting them off until they become A Thing? Yep, I’ve got a pile of those, and I’m guessing you do, too.

Each week for the next four weeks I’m going to focus in on one realm of my life – self, home, family, and work/passions – and challenge myself (and you, if you’re up for it!) to take care of one small, doable thing in that realm several days each week. I’ll post the new focus each Monday in place of my regular Mindful Monday feature – because it’s pretty much going to be a whole month of making small, focused improvements!

This week, my focus is on SELF. Why “me first”? Because one of the most important rules of happy motherhood is that you have to take care of yourself to take care of others! All week I’ll commit to small mini-goals that won’t take much preparation or energy and will set me up to be happier and healthier in mind, body and spirit throughout 2012.

I’ll be traveling later this week, which makes self-care both easier and harder: my kids won’t be around to get between me and a good night’s sleep, for example, but when it comes to self-care, sometimes we can be our own worst enemies! It’ll be fun to see if I can keep up the resolve to make some small improvement in my life from the road.

Tonight, my mini-resolution is to get at least eight hours of sleep. Over the holiday I got in the habit of staying up late watching TV (everything from marathons of Chopped on Food Network to my new TV crush, Downton Abbey) but now that the kids are back in school and I have to be up and moving early, I have to re-train myself to get to sleep no later than 10.

So tonight, I plan to have all the kids in bed by 8:00, with the kitchen cleaned up and laundry folded by 8:30 so I have some time for relaxing with my new Kindle (thanks Santa!) before I have to drop off to sleep.

It’ll be hardest to get two-year-old Clara down: she is accustomed to our relaxed holiday routine now, and wanders out of her room constantly in the evenings to come hang out with me. The easiest solution for us is sharing a bed for now, since with a cuddle she’ll fall asleep a lot more easily. I’m ready to be done co-sleeping, but right now just getting to bed is taking priority. We can always change things up later, once I’m better-rested.

If you’ve got babies who keep you up late or get you up all hours of the night, maybe you could let your spouse or partner put the kids to bed so you can hit it an hour or two early (you might not get a full 8 hours, but at least you can get a head-start on the night wakings!) Or you might find that you need to work on your kids’ routines before you get your own under control.

Sometimes it means giving sleep enough value that you give up other fun evening activities (Facebook, blog-reading, TV) for a few nights while you work on re-jiggering the family routine. I know it’s hard to make sleep a big enough priority sometimes when there are so many other things on your plate, and evenings may be your only quiet “me” time. But I’ve found that everything goes so much more smoothly when I’m well-rested. There’s not much point in having time alone if I’m so tired and cranky I can’t enjoy it!

I’d love to hear about any mini-resolutions you want to make this week to “fill your well” and set yourself up for a more energetic, healthy and fun 2012. Anyone with me on the sleep challenge?

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