Healthier Habits, Happier Home: Tweaking our Lifestyle in the New Year

Enjoying a warm day outside during our holiday!

Old habits die hard.  Relatively new ones still resist budging sometimes.  With the onset of the new year, though I know better than to set us up for failure by making new choices into RESOLUTIONS, I still feel like a new calendar brings an opportunity to make some changes and start fresh.  I feel renewed energy and determination to tweak some persistently bothersome habits and clutter in our lives.

Putting it on paper (or screen) may prove to commit us to change, or it may backfire in an embarrassing sort of way, but I believe that you do not make changes without effort, so here’s the attempt, in list form, to hold us accountable.

1)       Less family TV time and more constructive, creative time.

Though we don’t have cable, we do have Blockbuster online, and a TON of DVD’s.  I want to say our TV viewing habits have increased due to the low energy, sleep deprived state we’ve been in during the past few years, but the truth is, my husband and I watched our fair share of TV prior to the birth of our child, so we really can’t use that excuse.  We lament the lack of time we have for personal pursuits, and it is true that we are often exhausted by the time our little gal goes to bed, but we still find hours where we could be catching up on sleep or sewing, reading, writing, gaming, consumed by the black hole of the television. V has a daily “movie ticket” that she can turn in to watch a show, and we have a family show ticket reserved to allot her when we want to watch a movie or show as a family as a treat, but that is the daily limit we have set for her TV viewing.  A renewed commitment to reducing TV time means that I start my day reading to my daughter, V, rather than letting her watch her one daily show in the am.  It means suggesting a game, curling up with a book, catching up on my writing, or attempting to practice yoga after my daughter’s bedtime. The morning reading sessions were met with initial resistance from my gal, who is not a morning person, but as the week went on, she adapted to the new morning routine and I’ve gotten in some good snuggle time with her instead of plopping her down in front of a screen.  Our evening time has been more challenging, as V is teething this week and dealing with separation anxiety from my husband who returned to work after holiday vacation.  Her normal, very consistent bedtime begins at 7 pm, but this week has taken up to three hours to complete (highly unusual).  I hold out hope that we’ll keep our reduced TV watching plan after bedtime schedules return to normal.

2)      More exercise for everyone in the family, including time outdoors.

I do not exercise regularly.  This past year, motivated by lingering baby weight, I started walking in our neighborhood daily, weather permitting, and yoga one night a week.  With a tightened budget after multiple car repairs and holiday expenses, I am attempting to keep myself on an exercise routine at home, building in time in the am while V plays independently (cross your fingers here) and after her bedtime.  This week, in addition to a jaunt around the neighborhood with my family, I’ve managed to walk a mile using my Walk-Away-The Pounds video with Leslie Sansome.  This may not seem like much, but for me, it’s a positive change, so I’m going to feel good about it. Especially, because I did this while carrying my daughter, who was crying because she wanted to watch Blue’s Clues not my “walking movie.”  She got over it and I got extra exercise hauling her 25 or so pounds during the initial part of my walk.  Evening yoga has been sacrificed this week to an ongoing struggle with bedtime.  Still, I have a new video and a fresh yoga mat that lays flat and has not been chewed upon by our rabbit. I fit in one morning session this past weekend. I am determined.  I’m also determined to get my daughter moving during these winter months.  We are really good at taking time outside daily in warmer weather, and as she is highly active this year (last year, she was just taking a few steps at this time), we need outlets for that energy.  So if the weather is just below 40 degrees or higher, we’ll be outside.  If colder, you’ll find us at the gym, or kicking balls and climbing cushions in our living area.

3)      Less resentment and more thankfulness on my part regarding my daily duties

Mostly, this has to do with me not taking enough time to meet my needs sufficiently and being deprived of adult social contact.  These are things I can fix.  Some challenging days, I forget the big picture after slogging through the short term issues. Being grateful and not taking people in my life for granted is a life-long project, but one I will continue to work on throughout the year.  I am so fortunate to have a loving family, a warm home, abundant food, and caring friends.  If I keep focusing on being grateful, like a meditation of sorts, I find my attitude changing and my spirit buoyed during those day to day struggles we all face.  I’m not looking to be artificially positive; rather, I hope to hold the good stuff in balance with the challenges to keep a healthier perspective.

4)      Less takeout and more home-cooked meals

This requires better planning on my part, to not be away so much during meal hours, reverting to quick, and often less healthy meals.

5)      Built in time-in with my daughter

I found myself feeling really burned out this holiday season.  In an effort to have a social life for myself and my daughter, I think I overbooked us a bit.  I’m limiting our excursions to two a week (excluding weekdays and any special exceptions) and building in more quiet time at home.  More time away from home means less time at home to take care of chores and more time at home spent catching up on tasks rather than time-in with my daughter.  I found myself missing those quiet moments with her, and noticing some behavioral trends that pointed to her missing them as well.   Although I try to always make her the priority, I’ll admit I have my tasky moments where I just want to check something off the to-do list.  I am taking the choice out of certain portions of the day so I don’t have to feel guilty that I’m not “getting something else accomplished.”  I hope that our time together will feel less pressured and she’ll know that I will be fully present for her during these times, rather than divided amongst duties. We are now starting our mornings reading and enjoying breakfast together, we have a post-nap time-in for crafts, manipulatives, or free play together, we read again before bedtime, and I’m not letting anything interfere with those times.  Aside from our outings to the library, park, gym, and playdates, we’ve always made time for art projects and baking and play, but I am renewing our commitment to those moments and lessening my commitment to keeping my home tidy.  It will be empty and tidy enough when she leaves, someday…ugh, can’t think about that one!

I know that I’ve set a lot of expectations for myself, but I feel like the ones that will stick are the things I am ready to change.  I have strong beliefs about the change you can make in your life, when you are ready to do so, and know that the times I am less than stellar are opportunities for me to try again later or make a better plan or fit for my life.

Disclosure:  I’m not getting paid a dime for this blog, so both media mentions are of my own free will:)

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4 responses to “Healthier Habits, Happier Home: Tweaking our Lifestyle in the New Year

  • Sara

    Great “resolutions”! They sound very familiar to mine :) so best of luck to us both!

  • Juliana

    Yep, sounds familiar for me too! I’ve just been sitting here planning how tomorrow we are not leaving the house all day and how I want to make sure I get on the floor and play with them a LOT, even if those two clean loads of laundry that have been waiting in the hall for about four days stay there for one more.

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