Goodbye 2012… And hello 2013! Do I sound excited at the prospect of a new year? I certainly hope so, because I am just a little excited. I’ve decided this year is going to be significantly better for me: as a partner, as a mother, as a work associate, as an individual. Infinitely better and kinder than 2012 proved to be. I’m looking forward to this year for a number of reasons, but most importantly I’ve ear-marked 2013 to begin the re-emergence of “me”. What this image of “me” will look like, I’m not yet completely sure. All I know is that she will be strong, capable, and more grounded than ever before (and I wish I could say with less wrinkles, but I don’t think that’s going to happen).
In an effort to achieve this, I thought long and hard about what my goals should be. Whilst thinking through each goal, I made a very conscious decision to make each of them small and achievable (or “baby steps”). I didn’t want to set the bar too high because more than likely this would result in my failing to accomplish anything and just feeling worse about myself. So… “small and achievable steps” was the motto, and I’m hoping the list I’ve put together will enable me to move forward more competently this year – without the unrealistic expectations! Wish me luck!
Weekly Meal Planning
Interestingly, the most difficult thing about my postnatal depression experience has been my inability to think about more than one thing at a time. Many a “melt down” has occurred due to my feeling completely overwhelmed with the amount of information being received. It’s a feeling I’d never encountered before, I’d always been able to multi-task effectively and thus pride myself on getting a great deal done on any given day. However, such multi-tasking abilities are a luxury for me no more. When it comes to cooking, when your brain needs to co-ordinate many things at once, I’m at a complete loss… And cooking was something I used to love to do! The biggest let down is my inability to plan ahead for meals, or think on my feet with regard to what to cook for lunch, dinner, whatever the case may be. My poor HF has been so understanding, yet I’m surprised he hasn’t withered away with malnutrition. If it hadn’t been for his very kind culinary assistance during the worst times, that may well have been his reality! So, this year I have decided to start meal planning. For 5 nights out of every 7, I will plan meals and structure my shopping list accordingly. The other 2 nights can take care of themselves, be it leftovers or take-away – whatever we may fancy! By doing this (and I’m now 2 weeks into it), I feel I’m able to gain back just a little of the control I feel I’ve lost over this particular household chore. And by gaining back some of that control, I’m now re-discovering the joy I’d long since forgotten that preparing and eating quality family meals provides. It’s a small victory, but one I’m hoping continues and becomes second nature by years end.
Why is everyone so busy these days? I ask myself this question all the time, especially when I feel I don’t even have quality time to spend with my own family! Everything’s just busy, busy, busy… rush, rush, rush… and I for one am tired of it. So this is the year for me to focus on making the time I have with my precious family and friends really count. And by “really count” I mean learning how to exist with one another in a space removed from phones, ipads, ipods, computers, TV, and any other mind-fizzling technology that may throw itself in our way. It would just be nice to get back to basics, which I believe we do quite nicely from time to time anyway, and really start enjoying each other’s company again. I found a fantastic tag on Childhood 101’s blog entitled, “Best Life” and it’s filled with wonderful ideas to create the best family environment you possibly can (and I’m sure friends count in this too). Be sure to have a read for yourself! Such focus on the quality of life will be a refreshing change and one I’m certainly looking forward to.
Date nights are something my HF and I try to do regularly anyway, so to have this as one of my goals for 2013 is not too difficult (had to put an easily achievable one in there somewhere, right?). My biggest frustration from date night has come from my HF’s lack of attention to planning them. Now it may be said this is my issue, not his, but if left up to him our date night’s simply do not happen. And given we’d both agreed this would be his area to take charge of, this has proved a bit of an ongoing problem. So in an effort to rectify this little issue last year (feeling very unloved because we hadn’t been on a date night in a while), I decided to make it easier for him. I logged onto all the wonderful “cheap deal” sites (you know the ones: Groupon, Living Social, Cudo, etc) and started buying dinner deals in my local area when they took my fancy. I would then print off the voucher (ensuring to highlight both the contact details and use by date), and leave them on the fridge. Of course my plan was communicated to my HF, I didn’t expect he would simply pick up on what I was trying to do, and I must say it is working very nicely for us. Every 2-3 weeks, my HF organises a babysitter, rings the restaurant on the next-to-expire voucher, and organises our date. It’s fantastic, and the best part is that my HF doesn’t get stressed about where we should go! It’s a win-win situation and we always have a really nice time so am hoping we can keep things the same this year.
10 Thoughtful Seconds
I’m not sure about you, but I tend to say things sometimes without quite thinking about it first. My biggest problem would be, I think, my tone of voice. Quite often I don’t intend to say things with a particular “tone”, but invariably it happens and usually the downfall is I may sound fed-up, bored, indifferent, angry, sarcastic, or just not interested. Whilst I’ll be honest and say my tone does imply the truth at times, it is not always necessary and tends to hurt those it’s inflicted upon. It is this lack of forethought I find inexcusable and not very fair at all. So another of my goals this year is to take 10 seconds to think about what it is I’m trying to communicate before I actually say anything. Now please don’t get me wrong! This is not an attempt to hide my true feelings, but more to teach myself to be patient, kind, and tolerant – all things I’ve found myself lacking in throughout my PND journey so far. When speaking to others, regardless of the message you are wanting to communicate, you can do so in a respectful manner. My most difficult time with this, I’ve now realised, is when I’m feeling overwhelmed and flustered by what is going on around me (and at times, in my head) and thus just “snap” in reply to something being said to me. The look on people’s faces when I’d do this (and yes, it was usually those closest to me and the ones I care most about) is not something I’m proud of. Hence my desperately wanting to take the steps this year to improve this negative behaviour.
“Me Time” Weekends
These past Christmas holidays, I was fortunate enough to be blessed with four days of pure “alone” time, a luxury many mummies out there do not receive often. My very understanding HF took the boys to holiday with his parents, leaving me with silence my only companion within our home for the first time in nearly two years! I didn’t know if I’d enjoy it or hate it, embrace it or repel it, but what I did know for certain was that I absolutely “needed” it.
Whilst I missed my boys enormously and couldn’t wait for them to come home, I found the time on my own completely rejuvenating… I woke when I wanted, ate what I wanted, watched what I wanted, read books, drank wine, and went to bed at whatever time I wanted. It was (and I hope other mum’s out there won’t think I’m terrible for saying the words out loud) PURE BLISS! Not because my boys weren’t with me, but because for the first time since I’ve had the LM and been diagnosed with PND I was able to operate on my own time, without having to think about anyone else. Selfish? Perhaps. But what I do know is that my family and myself are a great deal better off for this time on my own to re-charge. This experience has improved our lives significantly.
So much so that my HF and I have since discussed that perhaps this should be something we do maybe twice a year. A weekend for me, be it either at home while the boys enjoy a weekend away camping, or maybe a weekend by myself in a unit by the ocean somewhere. Wherever it may be, I think we’ve both now realised such alone time actually makes me a better mum, a better partner, and an innately better person. It’s perhaps confronting to admit, but the opportunity to shut my mind off from the routine of every day allows me to relax in a way I simply don’t find possible at home when everyone’s around. Not a bad thing, just different, and for us it seems to work.
And there concludes my goals for 2013! I’m hoping beyond all hope they are small enough to achieve, but infinitely meaningful enough to make a significant difference in my life. I’m very much looking forward to where this year will take my wonderful family, but also where it will take me on my journey to becoming a stronger person.
Thanks so much as always and please be sure to share any of your new year resolutions if you have them, I would love to hear about them.