2023 is rapidly approaching. And its impending arrival begs us to establish obligatory “New Year’s Resolutions.” Cue the lists of things that we need to start doing (as if any of us moms need more things to add to our plates.) Go to the gym more often. Drink more water. Spend more time playing with our kids. Start meditating. Log more volunteer hours. Visit our family that we have not seen in a while. Take that vacation. The list of all that we need to do to arrive at “success” is daunting and never-ending.
I can already see my calendar filling up while the precious “white space” is slowly fading away. And while it may be worthwhile to add one or more of these activities to our regular routine and do more of certain things, there is something to be said for shifting our focus to what we need to do less of. And there is a lot. So, while you’re thinking about the things you are going to start doing in 2023, please consider some things you can also stop doing that might free up some time, energy and perhaps even restore some of your sanity.
1. Giving excessive goodie bags for birthday parties.
It’s really hard to live more minimally, keep a clean and tidy house and organize your stuff as it is. Be a part of the solution, not a part of the problem among your friends and family when it comes to infiltrating their homes and cars with more crap via kids’ party favor bags. I’m guilty like the rest of them. I didn’t say these New Year “don’ts” would be easier. But the hard truth is that the money we spend on this plastic junk that ends up in the trash, in every car cup holder, in our purses, etc. is such a waste! It’s a lose-lose-lose situation. The party host loses by spending unnecessary money having to put all these bags together, the recipient’s parent loses – (Anyone ever found party slime in the couch?) and really, the kid loses too. Kids have too much as it is. Some kids have so much that they don’t even value or appreciate or take care of what they do have. So cut the garbage – literally. And send your party guests home with maybe one special item, or better yet, nothing at all. I dare you.
2. Signing up for too many after-school activities.
I get it. Our kids have lots of interests and maybe even various talents that warrant exploration. It’s easy to over book our afternoons when our intentions are noble. But I really believe that kids need more freedom/”boredom” and less scheduled activities. The “go, go, go!” lifestyle isn’t just exhausting for us as parents. It also is emotionally and mentally taxing on our kids who have their entire lives to be overworked and overscheduled. It’s time to take back some much-needed downtime (for parents and kids!) and leave room in the afterschool hustle and bustle for playing outside in the yard, reading a book in the living room, or playing a board game with a sibling. We’ve got to do less rushing, less driving from here to there, less eating in the car because there isn’t even a spare moment to sit down and do something as basic as nourishing ourselves. So together, pick the most important activities/sports/clubs etc. and let the rest go.
3. Being on our phones like teenagers.
Teens and tweens are stereotypically glued to their phones in the minds of adults. But I’ve got news for you. They aren’t the only ones. How on earth can we even attempt to curb the awful habit of mindlessly scrolling, not being present and hunching over a glowing screen like a zombie with bad posture with our kids if we model that very behavior ourselves? I really try not to text and drive and to be fair, almost always limit my texts to stop lights. But the other day I had a “lightbulb” moment. My 10-year-old who will be driving in less than six years can see me. She’s watching. “If mom does it, it must be safe.” Research shows that your child’s behavior will be far more influenced by what they see than what they are told. They learn through modeling more than lecturing. Plus, having your nose in your phone around others is simply bad manners. So put it away as much as possible and show what it looks like to be fully engaged in the moment and present in the world.
Do you find yourself saying “I am sorry” often? Over-apologizing can come in various shapes and forms: You lost track of texting your friend back. I’m sorry. You bump into someone at the mall. I’m sorry. You cannot contribute to the parent/teacher conference week snack sign-up genius. I’m sorry. You cannot attend the kindergarten “Lunch on the Lawn” because it is in the middle of a workday and the PTO president is disappointed again. I’m sorry. You can’t make it to the fifth trampoline park birthday party of the month. I’m sorry. Raise your bar of what you consider offensive.
Should other moms, leaders and colleagues understand that sometimes you just cannot do it all? Yes, they should. Remind yourself that “No.” is a complete sentence. Begin with self-awareness. Spend one day counting how many times, spoken or written, that you say the phrase, “I am sorry.” Update your vocabulary and truly be mindful of the fact that you do not need to apologize that you can’t be all things to all people at all times. Nor should you feel the need to apologize for things that are simply out of your control.
5. Social Media.
Ok, you all knew this was coming. Social media detoxes are the newest fad diet. But, can you really stop and consider a solid and intentional seven to ten day social media detox? No posting. No scrolling. No peeking. No “quick checks.” Just a true mental-health break from the social comparison cycle. You will stop feeling so inferior and competitive and that might just compel you to look around and notice the beauty in your own real life. You may experience withdrawal syndrome and that is because social media is engineered to be as addictive as cocaine. I mean, stop and really think about that. Conquer your fear of missing out and step away for a season. Your mind, mood, family and friends will thank you.