Bron Bates thinks listing what you’ve accomplished is sometimes more helpful than making new goals. Especially when you have a newborn.
Do you make New Year’s resolutions? I’m on the fence. I love that a new year can bring a fresh start, but I don’t like the pressure. 2015 was a whirlwind for our family, so this year my plan is to s l o w d o w n. I’d like to be able to write more, pay more attention to school newsletters (ha) and contribute to the wellbeing of myself and others a little more.
For the former, I’m making a Past Year’s Achievements List – kind of the opposite to a resolutions list. It’s based on this thing I learnt when I was new mum.
I found days at home with a little baby to be bizarre. The hours crept along at a snail’s pace, yet the next thing I knew it would be dinnertime. I’d look down and see I was still in my pajamas. Or if I was out of my pajamas, the sink was piled high with dirty dishes I hadn’t got to. Add enough of these shapeless days together and I’d start to feel a little unhinged.
Even though I was keeping an infant alive and mostly happy (no small feat, right?), this was expected, not rewarded. No one was around to witness the little things. It’s one of the weird things about living in singular family units instead of having an extended family. If you’re at home with a baby it’s probably just you and the baby and maybe a toddler too.
There’s no one there to give you an approving nod for your particularly expressive reading of Where is the Green Sheep? No one throws you a sympathetic glance when you wipe up the food-splattered floor under the highchair for the 20th time that day. No one looks you in the eye and says ‘thanks’ when you saved the lounge from the baby milk poop explosion just in the nick of time. Bedtime comes and you kind of feel like you’ve accomplished…nothing. And you have to get up and do it again in the morning. Or sooner even, because your baby will wake up in just four hours or so. It can be kind of depressing.
One day, I was at the Early Childhood Centre and the nurse encouraged us to do this one simple thing: make a list of all the things we (new mums) had done that day. Looking at those lists showed me how my shapeless repetitive days were actually full of tasks I’d accomplished. Someone patted the baby to sleep for a total of five hours. That dishwasher didn’t pack and unpack itself three times. That I’d stayed calm through four bouts of baby crying fits and only cried myself on the fifth? A true and definite accomplishment.
My kids are older now, so number one on my Past Year’s Achievements List is definitely that I raised 1 x child to adulthood and high school completion with a strong and positive sense of self. Mostly this is his own doing ’cause he’s a pretty great kid, but I’m also going to take some credit – I raised a whole person! Next on the list is going to be something smaller but triumphant in it’s own little way. Even though I’m cooking averse, I made seafood paella once and it was tasty.
Fancy making your own list of what you accomplished last year? Please do so if you feel it and pat yourself on the back too. Being a parent can be a hard slog and you deserve to be congratulated. Happy 2016!