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13 small steps to becoming a happier mom in 2013

by Meagan Francis on December 30, 2012

13 small steps to becoming a happier mom in 2013, mini-resolutions

2013 is here! After having visiting family for the last four+ days, I’m in a bit of a snack-and-party-induced haze. But as is always the case at the beginning of a new year, I’m feeling motivated and ready to embark on a little self-improvement.

But as a big-picture thinker, one of my obstacles to making concrete, doable changes is painting “self-improvement success” with too broad a brush. You know what I mean:  “I resolve to completely renovate my house, make a big family dinner every night, and work out every day in 2013!”

Last year, as an antidote to the sort of complete-life-overhaul resolutions that we’re all tempted to make in early January but, by early February, seem to be mocking us from our mental trash bin, I wrote a series of posts about mini-resolutions anyone can do to make over their lives (but not in the Extreme Makeover kind of way.)

We’ve compiled 13 of those mini-resolutions below:

1. Get enough sleep

from the post (which also sets up the whole 2012 series):

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!

2. Unpack

from the post:

Are you an unpacking procrastinator like me? Maybe you’ve still got remnants of a recent trip in the bottom of your suitcase. Maybe you unpacked but never actually moved the suitcase out of your bedroom. Maybe you tossed your jewelry on top of your dresser but didn’t put it away, or never took your toiletries out of your overnight kit. Or maybe you haven’t gone anywhere lately, but have a diaper bag, purse or day-trip bag that needs to be emptied out. Why not take care of it today?

3. Throw away empty bottles

from the post:

And then it occurred to me: this is exactly the kind of thing mini-resolutions are for!

Not big sweeping life changes, but getting on top of some of those little sloppy things that you never get around to taking care of because they usually don’t command your attention long enough. They’re dealt with quickly and forgotten…until you find yourself trying to squeeze shampoo out of an empty bottle for the 16th time this month.

4. Put away last of holiday decorations

from the post:

The faux mistletoe is still hanging in the dining room, waiting for kissers. And I’ve sort of trained my eye not to notice those things anymore. How many times do I have to walk past the empty creche before I pick it up and put it in a box, already? So far I would estimate about 78.

5. Brush up the family calendar

from the post:

Just taking a few moments to write everything down and organize all our dates in one visually-appealing place always makes me feel calmer, more on top of my life, and more ready to have fun.

6. Come up with new dinnertime conversation starters

from the post:

Apparently ”What was the best part of school today?” and “How about the worst?” are not as titillating to four growing boys as discussions of botflies that can burrow into an unfortunate individual’s flesh and reproduce.

7. Try something new…for the kids

from the post:

But. This year my son Jacob joined his school’s ski club and has been loving it. He’s really excited about hitting the slopes tomorrow. The other boys are looking forward to trying. My husband’s already studied the maps and planned his attack. With all this excitement, how can I refuse to get involved? Even if my only contribution is a funny story to pass around for decades about the day Mom face-planted on the hill.

8. Look ‘em in the eye and listen

from the post:

I don’t mean to tune my kids out. But sometimes I’m distracted: trying to finish up those last few lines of an important email, edit the blog post I didn’t quite finish before they got off the bus, pay attention to a recipe. Other times I’m simply overwhelmed by the jumbled noise of excited voices tumbling over one another, trying to be the first heard. Tuning out can seem like a coping mechanism, a way to deal with the chaos of family life and competing obligations without losing it.

9. Make some wildly improbably goals

from the post:

…once you put a goal, no matter how far-fetched it seems, out there, things happen. Friends and acquaintances help push you in the direction you want to go. You feel more accountable. The Wildly Improbable Goal just feels more…probable. Even if you don’t end up actually meeting that specific WIG quickly, you may find that setting the goal moves you much more quickly in that direction than you thought.

10. Make that phone call you’ve been putting off

from the post:

You know the one. The appointment you need to make to get your hair cut, or your teeth cleaned. Or the voice mail you need to return from an estranged relative or the library (yes, it’s time to admit that book is hopelessly lost.) The calls we avoid have a way of blowing up into A Thing, and what once might have only required a quick thirty-second call to take care of starts to seem like a huge ordeal.

11. Work better, play more

from the post:

I’m not talking about my “inner child” – she gets plenty of exercise playing tea party and talking about Skylanders these days – but my inner creative grown-up, the one who’s into books and music and great TV shows and goes to the movies and once in a while, wanders around a museum alone, just to discover something for herself.

12. Clean up your desk

from the post:

I just looked at the calendar and realized it’s been a month since I’ve had a functional desk! I’ve gotten to the point where I walk quickly past my office and avert my eyes so that I don’t have to deal with the reality.

But today? I have clean it up. I need my space back!

13. Drop a few things from your to-do list

from the post:

As I enter a busy season of the year – conferences, deadlines, opportunities, events – I’m trying to remember that nobody can do it all, and that sometimes the best thing I can do for my business, my home, my family, and my self is to just do less.

These may not seem like big, life-changing resolutions, but that’s the point: sometimes, the smallest acts (unpacking that languishing suitcase, making a long-neglected phone call) can make a big difference.

Follow all 13 of these mini-resolutions, act on a handful that speak to you, or come up with some of your own.  You’ll be well on your way to being a happier mom in 2013.

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{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

andrea frazer January 2, 2013 at 5:25 pm

You know, that’s a darn good list. I had made a list of 10 myself and so far, I’m keeping them. The biggest one, though, is something I didn’t write down but will help me accomplish my list. I’m giving up alcohol. I’m hardly drinking day and night, but even those 2 glasses of red wine at night slow me down. I could be writing instead of drinking. I could be taking a walk or reading or blogging. When did my last column end? 3 years ago. When did I take up my love for cabernet? 3 years ago. In giving up a passion I love – I aim to channel that passion into other things I love so much more. Nice post, Meagan! Thanks for the kick in the butt!

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Raj January 2, 2013 at 8:08 pm

I love the idea of mini resolutions! I have a tendency to make really huge resolutions each year (and too many for one go), then I end up feeling defeated by the time February rolls around. These mini-resolutions are perfect for me since one of my goals for the year is to take the pressure off myself.

PS: Love, love, love your site. I spent one of my holiday days over the break trolling through archives for more hours than I care to admit:)

Raj

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Nina January 2, 2013 at 11:00 pm

I’m not big on grand resolutions and instead focus on a smaller timeframe (today, this week, this month) as opposed to an open-ended one. My financial goal for this month is to eat out at a restaurant only once :) Then when that’s done, I’ll see about coming up with new ones that are just as small.

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Carla January 3, 2013 at 1:16 am

This is a great post. The little bite sized resolutions are so much more concrete & attainable than the broad sweeping ideas. Love the thought about unpacking. I’ve still got boxes packed from moving 4 years ago! Guess I know what I’m doing tomorrow!

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Megan January 3, 2013 at 9:47 am

I love the idea of mini-resolutions! I’m definitely on board with making a few extra of my own, too. Just yesterday, I decided I’m going to embrace “Buy two” as one of my key concepts for the year – instead of just buying one of something (toothpaste, contact solution, laundry detergent, etc.), when I run out it, I’m going to buy two when I replace it. Then it won’t be a crisis the next time I find I’m almost out of something. Removing those tiny little stresses from life can help so much!

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