Let me just say, I have never been one for New Year’s resolutions. I am the person who gets annoyed by all the new people at the gym in January. I know your extreme diet change probably won’t work. Please get off my treadmill.
What I do believe in is writing down goals at the start of each year in my shiny new planner (#basic) because I know that science shows the simple act of putting something down on paper makes you more likely to follow through with it.
However, by the end of February/early March of this year, I still didn’t find myself in a groove. Whether it was having a young baby or our upcoming move, I found myself wanting to clear out all the “junk,” both physical and mental, that was cluttering up my life.
Now that we are approaching Easter, I have finally gotten started.
Here is how I began and How You Can Too:
Detox and Unplug From Social Media
Being a new mom can be isolating and a little lonely. Especially during those first few months when you are home-bound much of the time. We should be thankful to live in an age of instant connectivity to my family and friends. I like social media. I have seen it reunite lost pets with their owners, raise money for people and causes in need, and allow us to “check in” as safe during times of tragedy. You would probably not be reading this blog post if not for social media. However, with all the good it does, so comes the negative.
In those first months of motherhood, I found myself mindlessly surfing social media during nap time or when I was pumping. In short, I was bored and instead of doing something productive, I was zoning out staring at my phone. These breaks weren’t leaving me feeling refreshed or recharged. In fact, they were making me feel the opposite.
We all know that social media can suck up a huge amount of our time at best, but it can also bring out the worst in us at its very worst. It can make us lose sight of the good in our own lives by constantly allowing us to compare ourselves to others.
When it’s 7 a.m. Monday morning and you have already cleaned up cat puke and a diaper blowout, it’s easy to convince yourself you have it really hard and everyone else must be nailing parenthood (and life).
Comparison is the thief of joy, and I was tired of missing out on the joy right in front of me.
It wasn’t just the comparison game that was weighing me down. What prompted my social media detox was the time I wasted getting involved in a political debate on Facebook. I try to stay out of these debates on social media because I think talking to people face to face allows us to better understand mindset and context and actually have a rational discussion. Even as I knew better, I got sucked in and found myself wasting hours going back and forth with someone on a post. No hearts and minds were changed that day, and I decided then I needed to limit my social media footprint.
I downloaded a timer app that allows me to track my social media usage and even set a time limit if I want. Just seeing the numbers is enough to make me think twice about logging in. I am competitive by nature and I like seeing how much less I can be on each day. Now instead of reaching for my phone during a free minute, I try to pick up a book, call a friend, or even just have a moment of silence. I have found I get to the end of the day feeling much more accomplished and during the day I feel much more present.
Let It Go
I figured if I was cleaning out all this mental space, I should probably invest some time decluttering my actual physical space as well. One of my favorite things about our military moves is the forced purging that occurs every few years. I try to be good about going through things often and not hanging onto “stuff.” However, there is nothing like being home more than usual and feeling like you are suffocating under all the things you have accumulated. You don’t realize how much is hanging over your head (literally and figuratively) until you clean it out.
I started with my closet. My pregnant and postpartum nursing body (bless its heart) has shown me how little I actually wear most of my clothes. While I am not ready to do a complete capsule wardrobe, I was able to pare down a lot and keep the clothes I really use. I found a women’s shelter that picks up donations at your house (what a time to be alive!) and started having them come once a month. This has forced me to continuously go through my clothes (and my son’s) and only keep what I need. It makes it easier knowing it’s going somewhere where it will truly bless someone else.
I also decided to clean out my email. This is a big one for me and one I am still working on. My email is my secret shame. In general, I am an organized person, so the 600 emails in my inbox (most of them junk) were causing me (and my horrified husband) more stress than I realized. I have started going through my email each day and deleting what I don’t need but also making it a goal to unsubscribe to one thing each day. This has the added benefit of saving me money because I don’t see all the amazing deals that Groupon, or Pottery Barn, or Nordstrom are offering each day. Out of sight, out of need (want).
Not Your Mama’s Budget
My husband and I are about to wade into the murky waters of home ownership, and like any first-time buyers, we are terrified. We have always tried to have a budget and at least semi try to stick to it, but we felt like we needed to up our game. In the spirit of my springtime resolutions, we (he) decided we needed to track our spending to see where our money actually goes. This will not only allow us to know how much we can afford in a new home but also know where we can make changes in our current spending habits.
We have been saving each receipt and then he (bless him) enters the data into a spreadsheet that’s broken down into categories: groceries, pets, baby, etc. It has been eye-opening, to say the least. You don’t realize how much your little coffee runs and Target impulse buys add up until you start tracking them.
While we won’t always take the time to do this, I think it will be something we use from time to time to check in our spending habits. It has allowed us to find areas where we can save money to go toward the purchase of a home. More importantly, it has allowed us to see what we truly “value.” The numbers don’t lie. I am okay with spending a good chunk of change on travel or our pets because those bring us joy. I am not OK with it going toward buying things I don’t really need that I will just have to get rid of in a few months. Tracking my spending has made me a more conscious consumer.
Obviously, these resolutions are all a work in progress. Some days I get derailed by the Facebook rabbit hole or the dollar spot at Target. However, I am glad I’ve made these changes.
In the wise words of Henry David Thoreau,
“Our life is frittered away by detail… Simplify, simplify.”
Any time can be the right time to make a resolution; you don’t have to wait for a new year to do it.