A previous version of the following piece was originally published in The Fresno Bee on January 4, 2020.
I tend to start each new year with new goals for self care, a personal mental checklist if you will. Call it a habit of analyzing what the previous year brought, what it didn’t bring, what I can do to make home/school/work life more joyful and stress-less (notice I don’t say stress-free, because hello — that’s not reality).
I admit I had a few mini-breakdowns and WTF-moments when everyone was going nuts on social media about “the end of a decade” just a few weeks ago. WOW. TIME. My decade was a whole lotta fabulous with one life-shattering fail — something I’m still navigating through… Each year has standouts.
- 2010 = Birth of my first baby.
- 2011 = Birth of this blog.
- 2012 = Birth of second baby.
- 2013 = Birth of ‘TheFABMom’ on national TV regularly.
- 2014 = Birth of Jill-Gets-Fired-for-the-First-Time (from that national TV gig in 2013).
- 2015 = Birth of me appearing on TODAY Show.
- 2016 = Birth of ‘TheFABMom on CBS Los Angeles’.
- 2017 = Birth of my book.
- 2018 = Birth of Jill-Almost-Breaking.
- 2019 = Birth of a shift in personal perspective.
And now, to the NOW. 2020 = WHO THE HECK KNOWS?!? Jill 2.0.
Some years are launched with earth-moving motivation, some years I silently slide into with calm contentment to just ‘be’ with family and friends. This year? I’m a mix of both.
No matter what kind of new year it might be for you, I truly believe that all of us can create big results from small choices we make — for everything from managing kids to chasing new career pursuits. How do I know? Here are a few of mine from several years ago, old choices that I remind myself to do every new year to help conquer the chaos of modern mom life:
1. Step away from certain people.
I consciously backed off, left ample room and or simply stopped associating with acquaintances, colleagues or friends who consistently delivered untrustworthy activity, negativity and/or unwanted drama into my life — people who made me question my own intentions, legitimacy or self worth. Sometimes a mama’s got to take a step back and assess what personalities are uplifting, which ones make her nervous, which ones are absolutely toxic. It wasn’t easy, but once I opted out and away from people/situations/jobs who were negatively monopolizing my time and thoughts, my own positivity and productivity flourished. And I didn’t find myself worrying about stupid things anymore.
2. Say “NO” when things aren’t convenient.
“I’m sorry, I can’t bring cookies that day.” “It’s not a good time to meet up.” “I can’t write a 1000-word article for you for free.” Say yes to saying ‘no’ — and also remember to reject any rogue feelings of guilt that might try to intercept your assertiveness and trick you into thinking you should’ve said yes to whatever it was that would’ve been hell to pull off. Saying ‘no’ is not negative or rude, it’s simply committed, self-care to protect our time. Because as moms, time is our most precious commodity.
3. Stop expecting anything from others.
“Why didn’t they invite my kid to their kid’s birthday when I invited them to ours?” “Why didn’t she connect me to her supervisor about that job when I helped her find a job all those years ago?” No matter how much someone else’s actions might hurt, how you think you were betrayed — let it all go (and make a mental note). We can’t control how others think or act, nor should anything we do for anyone else ever be dependent on getting the favor returned in the future. Help others as your heart tells you to and then forget you did anything for them at all. You’ll be surprised how good karma will circle around back to you regardless if they reciprocate…. and you won’t stew in anger about anything in the meantime.
4. De-clutter away.
Tired and cliche advice, but world-famous organizer Marie Kondo didn’t become an instant sensation last year for nothing. We all have too much STUFF. And then we wonder why we can’t concentrate or get anything done (I say this as a woman who has an ongoing war with one particular pile of paper, school flyers and/or I-don’t-know-what on my counter). Organize, donate and/or trash one small area of home per month — that shelf with all the kids’ random unfinished drawings that they swear they’re still working on 6 months later (my kitchen), the bottom drawer with those old thermals that you swear you’ll wear again even though you haven’t used them for 8 years (my closet). Don’t try to organize everything at once (I certainly don’t) but commit to tackling one small area once a month to help with mental clarity. Then notice your home life feel calmer.
5. Go outside.