I don’t know about you, but for me, there’s something about the newness of a new year that’s inspiring. It kind of feels like taking a shower after getting filthy. By December, you start to feel grubby, tired, old, used up, and then with January 1st comes a new start. A whole year ahead, unmarked, unused, fresh and clean and just out of the shower.
Even though we tend to follow something of a traditional school year schedule, starting school just after Labor Day and finishing up in mid to late May, I find that January is often a good time for us to look at what we’ve been doing and see if we need to make changes. We’ve been doing school long enough at that point to have a good idea of what’s working and what’s not, and yet there’s still enough of the school year ahead of us that we can try something new and have plenty of time to determine if it’s working for us or not.
Tomorrow, I’ll be picking up a new planner. Three, actually. One is a lesson planner for me, to help me get a little more organized with my planning of our days. Then one for each of my boys that will allow me to write down their chores, assignments, etc. for each day. We’ve been going along fine as is, with me keeping notes in my big planner where I write everything I need to do, but I think we can do better. I think it would work better if I simply block out our school day in my big planner, and have a lesson planner where I can get more detailed about what we’re doing. And I also think that my kids will do better if they can see their entire day laid out for them, and mark off what they’ve done so they can clearly see what’s left and see the progress they’re making. Plus, with the chores section, I will no longer have to listen to arguments over who gets to unload the dishwasher today – I hope.
I’m not big on setting resolutions with the new year. So many people make resolutions (to lose weight, eat healthier, read more, work less, on and on) and then fail to keep them. I do, however, think that the new year is a good time to look back over the last year and figure out what you might want to change. I don’t call it a resolution, and I don’t make huge changes all at once. What I do like to do, and am trying to teach my kids to do, is to look at the things that you want to change from the past year, and consider how to make those changes.
Let’s say, for example, you want to start dating again. I wouldn’t set a resolution that says, “I’m going to date.” or one that says, “I’m going to go on 4 dates a month.” Instead, I would look at the fact that I didn’t date last year (or didn’t date as much as I wanted), and I would think about how I could change that. Ways to change that could be talking to friends about your desire to start dating, finding local groups for meeting singles, or setting up an online dating profile (if that’s your thing). So there’s three things you could do – so pick one. Pick one of them to do right now. See how it goes. Does it change things for you? Is it even doable? By doing just the one thing and evaluating its results, you aren’t overwhelming yourself, so you won’t just give up and continue to be a hermit in the romantic world. It also allows you to really see the results of the things you’re doing, instead of possibly not being able to remember what worked and what didn’t (“I met Jon, but did I meet him through the group, or online dating? Darn it, I wish I could remember!”).
I think it’s important to encourage kids to do this, too. Even though they’re kids, they might have parts of their lives that they want to be a little different. But because they’re kids, they might not know how to go about making that happen. You can help them. Not only can you show them how to do it by doing it in your own life, but you can sit down with them and talk to them. Ask questions, and help them dive deeper into their answers to figure out what they want to change and how they want it to be after the change.
Three questions I like to ask my kids are:
- What’s something you really liked about last year?
- What’s something you really hated about last year?
- What’s something that you didn’t like or hate, but you feel like it could be better?
It’s a starting point. And I think January is a good time to do it because of the fresh, clean feeling. It feels like there’s nothing but possibility stretched out before you, like absolutely anything you might want to do can be done. The further you get into the year, the more you begin to feel stuck in the routine and the situation you’re in, and sometimes it can be harder at that point to make changes. Sometimes you can’t even really think of changes at that point, because you’re getting so set in the way things are (especially as you near the end of the year).
I came across this in my Facebook feed a few days/weeks ago, and though it does talk about resolutions, I still like it. I plan to print out a couple and let my kids fill them out. It’s a great tool for reviewing the year, as well as looking forward to the upcoming year. And if you’ve never worked with your kids on something like this before, it can be a great guide to help you figure out what to talk about. In fact, I might even do one myself – we adults could use the help, too, right?
So, whether you call them resolutions or something else, do you have changes you plan to make this year? Whether it’s for your homeschooling, your work, family time, the way you raise the kids or the way they get along with each other, or something else, I’d love to hear what kind of changes you’re considering this January.
And since I won’t be online to say it at midnight tomorrow night, Happy New Year!