As I angrily enter 2017 weighing five pounds more than I did at this time last year—when I resolved that this would be the year I’d finally drop the baby weight and be a better person—I’ve decided it’s time to give the middle finger to my self-improvement goals. No, I didn’t manage to yell at my kids less, I wasn’t more patient and I didn’t learn a speck of Spanish over the past 12 months. But, frankly, I’m too exhausted to give a shit.
Without a doubt, 2016 was a horrible year. I think it’s time for a little kindness for all of us, and that starts with how we treat ourselves. I’m going to let go of some of the pressure I put on myself, my marriage and my kids. Last year, there was never enough time or energy left over to tackle my big bucket of resolutions and that just saddled me with more guilt. Why do I set myself up to fail over and over again? Screw resolutions. Perhaps by setting my sights a little lower and trying to be content with who I am and the life I have, I’ll be happier. It’s worth a shot anyway.
Here are my new and improved—and actually realistic—goals for the coming year.
1. Make regular appointments to get my nails done. I don’t really have a spare $40 for a Shellac manicure every three weeks, but to be able to look down at my hands and see that at least one part of me is looking polished is an extravagance that more than pays for itself. My hair may be a mess and I may have smushed banana on my sweats, but if my nails look good, I feel good. That’s something, right? Plus, I get an hour to myself, and that’s good for everyone.
2. Concentrate on real-life connections. Social media has made it easy to feel closer to our friends, but it’s a hollow connection. Nothing lifts me up like having breakfast with my bestie Erin, even if we have to drag our kids along. Sure, we text and chat online, but I can’t see her facial expressions that crack me up or feel the warmth of her hug online. The support we get from good friends is crucial. I need more coffee dates and lunches in my life.
3. Stop worrying about making everything from scratch. I bake all our bread and make cookies every couple of days, not to mention about 90 percent of everything we eat. I spend far too much time in the kitchen—it’s time to throw in the (dish) towel. Is the occasional box of mac and cheese all that bad? Probably not, especially if I pick up the organic brand. The extra half-hour that box of noodles gives me could be spent playing Super Mario Bros. with the kids, kicking some serious preschooler butt. I’m going to let a little processed food into our lives.
4. Stress less about creating magical childhood moments and just get down on the floor and play. It’s time to step away from Pinterest and ditch the guilt about not getting my kids tickets to Paw Patrol Live! and all the other stuff I can’t afford. What do my kids want most? My undivided attention and me sitting there building Lego, playing Barbie or racing Matchbox cars down the hallway.
5. Manage my expectations of quality time. As much as I’d love to say that we’ll make date night happen once a month this year or commit to taking the kids out individually on a regular basis, life just gets in the way (with three kids, someone is almost always sick). Instead, I’m aiming for smaller moments. I’ll join my husband more often when he walks the dogs, and I’ll try to watch a grown-up show with my eldest once her younger brothers are in bed. I know that these are the things I remember about my own childhood, while those foreign vacations just fade into the background of my memory. It’s those quiet, in-between moments that really make up life.
And that’s it. No diets. No grand achievements. Just some simple stuff to make life a little more livable. Here’s to a saner 2017.