Happy New Year! To be honest, I’ve never been great about resolutions or words or goals. I love the blank slate, taking down all the Christmas decorations (which can feel like clutter after a month or so), and the inherent quiet slowness of winter weather. But translating that into a big to-do list isn’t my style. As an introvert, it takes me the solid month of January to catch my breath from all the hullabaloo of the holidays. Maybe by the end of January, I’ll have some inspiration, but I’m not holding my breath.
Instead, I like to take this month to think about the rhythms of our home and family and buckle down for my husband’s busiest time of the year – tax season. Since our time is maxed out with work and parenting, I love to find little tweaks to our normal that simplify and ease any tension from our family. Here are some ideas if you’re looking for ways to streamline your daily life too:
- Clean out your closet. Take out everything. Hang up your absolute essentials. Add in your all-time favorites. Let go of the rest and getting dressed will be so much easier. (I have had good success donating to ThredUP – they send you a prepaid mail bag, you fill it, and they will pay you.)
- Start meal-planning. This has been a massive game-changer for me in 2016. Previously I was shopping at up to 3 stores in one week, often without having a solid idea of what I was making for dinner every night. That stress is real. Making a meal plan, shopping directly from that list, at one store has saved us so much time, money and stress (3 kids in a cart is not a joke). More on that in this post.
- Read instead. Turn off the netflix, and open a book. It’s good for your brain, and it can be an absolutely free activity – join your library! See all my library favorites (and some not-so-favorites) here.
- Take a social media hiatus. Over the summer I took a 3 month break from all social media and it was an incredibly gratifying breath of fresh air. If you feel over-stimulated, try it. Suddenly your life will get much quieter and calmer. You’ll find you don’t really need it as much as you might think you do.
- Check email once a day. This is one I’m working on currently. Even though I no longer have Twitter or Facebook accounts and my notifications are turned off, I still have a habit of checking my phone too often. It’s a habit I would correct in my kids, so I need to address it in my own life. Rather than just swearing off the phone or deleting apps, I’m exercising my self-control muscle. I can check email and Instagram once a day, and the world will be just fine, and I can be more present in real life.
- Declutter toys. Kids do best with fewer, quality toys. I promise. Take a box, fill it up with the annoying, untouched, broken, or messy toys and stow it away. Or create a rotating toy library.
- Streamline your paperwork trail. We do something really similar to this post about tackling the endless pile of papers coming in the front door. No more important documents lost or bills misplaced. No more junk on the dining table.
- Get outdoors. One of my favorite habits in 2016 was taking our kids to parks with hiking trails. It never failed to boost everyone’s attitudes. Stuck at a desk all day? Take a 5 minute break outside, a walk down your street, even just stand outside your front door in the blistering cold to feel the wind on your cheek.
- Freeze your spending. The truth is you probably don’t need more stuff, and the constant hunting and ads can cause anxiety. Cut all that out with a spending freeze – nothing but the essentials like food, gas, diapers – and pocket or donate the savings. Practice contentment and creativity with what you have, while freeing up any time spent shopping. I love doing a at least a 3 month freeze every year.
What are you looking forward to in the New Year? Are any of these habits you’re hoping to start in the New Year?