As a way of seeing what I want to do in 2013, I worked up this list of lessons I've learned in 2012 that I'd prefer not to have to learn all over again in 2013. These things are thrown down in no particular order and I'm sure I've left a lot of things off - but it's a start!
1. Making specific lists of what I want each child to do and then taking the time to follow up and train and check and praise makes all the difference in the world when it comes to children actually doing what they've been asked to do. I've finally come to terms with the fact that even when you ask a child to do something repeatedly and give pretty good instructions, it just doesn't happen without some pretty serious hand-holding. And doing a job WITH my kids one-on-one can actually turn a dreaded chore into a positive relationship-building activity.
2. There's a lot of stuff that I really can't and shouldn't control. Let go. Let go. Let go.
3. There's a lot of stuff that I can influence with love and patience and suggestions that are offered with no strings attached.
4. I need to spend time outside every day (even when it's freezing and snowing). I need to exercise every day (even if it's just running up and down stairs a few times in my house or doing a quick jog around the block wearing whatever I happen to be wearing - changing into workout clothes and worrying about serious sweating leading to a need for a shower has been holding me back all these years...). I'm a way nicer person if I get outside and exercise every day - even if it's just for a few minutes.
5. I don't have to be C.E.O. of the world. I don't have to volunteer for everything that needs to be done or do a fabulous job of everything I said I'd do. The only job I must not pass up is the job of being mother to my children and wife to my husband. I am expendable in every other area.
6. I like running. It's taken me a couple years to get to this point after a 10-year break from running. But now I can honestly say I like running. It makes me feel strong and alive. It makes me feel OK about loving cookies so much. It gives me adrenaline and endorphins which I really need.
7. I need to spend more time with people during the day. Working at my computer for many solid hours while the kids are at school day after day isn't good for me. Going running or hiking with friends at least once a week makes me a lot happier.
8. It's OK for the kids to eat less-than-ideal school lunches. I wish I could change what kids are being fed in our schools and I'll chip away at that over the years. But my life is SO much less stressful when I don't have to worry about packing lunches and the school lunches are way better this year than in years past thanks to some new regulations plus they offer fresh fruits and veggies every day and my kids report back every day that they took and ate the maximum on fruits and veggies (still I really don't get why such grizzly meat and so much cheese and peanut butter and so many hot dogs have to be on the menu...). They get healthy breakfasts and dinners and snacks here at home. If some of that gross plasticy nacho cheese stuff and the occasional hot dog is part of their diet, they'll be fine.
9. Pre-teens can be huge assets if you take the time to really listen and to involve them as assets in your family. If you don't help them be assets, they'll drive you crazy. (I wrote a whole article about what I've been learning about pre-teens here if you want to check it out.)
10. Hurrying is never fun for anyone. Hurrying is one of the biggest "joy suckers" around. Plan better. Pad the time I think things will take (stop being so optimistic about how long things take). Do less. Rush less.
11. It's OK to not be anxiously involved in something meaningful every minute of every day. Relax more. Go with the flow more. Look for and embrace serendipity more. (And refer back to #5.)
12. Don't get on the computer after the kids are in bed. If I do, I'll inevitably get sucked into something and won't have any quality time with my husband or time to read or do other things that ultimately are much more important than squeezing in one more reply to an email or one more fix on the website. Then when I'm tired, I'll start doing things that aren't even productive at all like shopping online for something I don't really need or looking at blogs I don't really care about. Do what I need to do on the computer while the kids are at school then be DONE for the day.
13. Do the first things first. I often do the second or third or tenth priority things first. Then the first things don't get done. When I take time the night before to plan three top-priority things for each day, one for work, one for my family, one for myself and do those three things first, everything just works so much better. (Whole article about that here.)
14. Read scriptures and write in scripture journal daily. I've been a serious slacker lately, reading just a verse or two each night. My life goes better and I find beautiful stuff when I read diligently and look for what the Lord really wants to tell me each night in the scriptures, then write a couple lines in my scripture journal about the messages I received. (See scripture challenge posts - tagged on right - will get back on track with these!)
15. I learned a lot about marriage this year - and I'm going to re-read this post that I wrote on our last anniversary regularly so I don't have to keep learning these things.
16. I have some really great kids and I'm often too hard on them. My parenting mantra for the last part of 2012 became "Raise the Praise, Minimize the Criticize" - but I need to embrace this mantra more completely.
17. When I'm feeling anxious and overwhelmed, meditation can really help. If I close my eyes, totally relax and say my favorite scripture - Psalm 23 - over in my head for about 10 minutes, I feel remarkably more calm and ready to face the world.
18. Things always get better. Sooner or later. Even when things seem impossible, things work out OK. Stop doubting. Stop relying so much on my own power and possibilities. Have more faith and trust.
19. The house will never be completely clean. Parts may be clean. Clutter can be kept under control and basic cleanliness can be achieved with daily 5-minute tasks done by all family members. But a fully clean and organized house is just never going to happen. And that's OK.
20. I have a really good life. I am blessed. God is good. All is well.