Yaaaayyy! We survived winter break and the kids are blessedly, thankfully, mercifully back in school. This harkens in not only the return to twenty-four hour adult supervision (hooray!) but a return to some sort of predictable schedule. A perfect time to really hit those New Year’s resolutions. Oh, sure. Some people start off like gangbusters on the January first, but really, everyone knows that resolutions can not really take hold until 1) you write them neatly in a new notebook and 2) winter vacation is over.

So lets see how I’m doing:

1) grow out hair. Okay. See, it’s good to pad the list a little bit. Start out slowly as if dipping your toe into a steamy, hot bath. All I have to do for this one is remain too busy and too cheap to make a hair appointment. Done and DONE! Good job, me!

2) Take Italian lessons. Easy, peasy. Livemocha ran a special for the first few days of the month so I have been taking online classes. And even though Alessandra said of my first written essay that”…it have no sense…” my oral submission was “Molto bene.” Yeah. I’m good. I mean, I’m “bene”…I think.

3) Limit choices. This one is based on actual science, people. A study came out recently which documented that folks today are actually LESS happy than in previous generations. It pointed the finger at all the choices we have available to us, because while we have a myriad of options which should, in theory, allow us to find and procure the thing which will make us the happiest, we also find ourselves mourning for the options we did NOT choose.

I see that with my twins every single time I take them to the mall to spend their allowance/christmas/birthday money. We wander all OVER that place, the girls growing ever more frantic at being “forced” to choose from the millions of delightful shiny objects available. Inevitably, no matter what they end up with, the predominate emotion in the car on the way home is one of deep regret.

I see it in myself, as well. When I’m at work, I wish I were home. When I was a stay-at-home-mom all I wanted was to get out of the house and talk to a grown-up-type person. I can work myself into a frothy lather over whether to buy the condensed chicken soup, the healthy choice soup or just back the cart up to produce and get the stuff I need to make it from scratch. It’s why I’ve started shopping at Aldi’s. (Besides the insane savings, that is.) You want chicken soup? Great. They have one brand, the Aldi’s brand. You’ll buy it and you’ll LIKE it, missy.

You and your fancy-pants soup.
They key is to set your criteria before making your decision and then to pick the first option that satisfies your stated parameters. And I have to admit, it’s made my life a heck of a lot easier. Hubby is delighted. He thinks it crowns him the winner in every discussion we’ve ever had about, well, just about anything. Whether it’s where to go for vacation, what to buy his brother for Christmas or what to eat for dinner, the first option out of my mouth is fine, fine…as is the second and third. “It’s all good, so just PICK something!” has been his motto, and it seems that the research bears him out. However, he might want to tone down his triumphant smirk a bit, since my resolution list is decidedly silent on the issue of punching your spouse in his sleep.

4) Implement a daily/weekly schedule. This really is just an extension of the “limit choices” resolution. I have charted a pretty dang specific, some might suggest anal-retentive, schedule for my days. No more wandering aimlessly around our home in the mornings, clutching my coffee mug, muttering incomprehensibly and trying to decide what the heck I need to do before work when all I really desire in my heart of hearts is to go back to bed. What time is it? 7:15 on a Wednesday morning? Well, clearly, I’m putting on my gym clothes before sweeping the back entry steps. 9:30 Thursday night? Setting the timer on the coffee maker and putting ingredients in the bread machine, duh.

It isn’t as unobtainable and ambitious as it sounds, because in 2012, should I find that I’m missed the alloted time for yoga or letter writing or cleaning out my closet, that ship has sailed, baby. There is no going back. And no regrets. Just writing out everything I want/need to accomplish has brought to light how very little time I have and how often I find myself stealing from time with my family to finish some mundane errand or chore. So the schedule is really more like a barbed wire fence surrounding the precious few hours of each day I get to be with the maddening, imperious, incomprehensible and hilarious little people inhabiting my house. That’s the most important thing, really, although you wouldn’t realize it from the amount of time I have spent ignoring their requests to play rummy or watch their latest theatrical masterpiece in favor of some stimulating activity like cleaning the bathroom. No more. The work will get done, or it won’t, but at least I won’t collapse on the couch each night dazed and exhausted and strongly suspecting that I’ve let another day slip by, without tending the things that I hold most dear.

There are more resolutions, of course, many more. But time is a-ticking and this schedule waits for no man. It’s almost 4:30 for the love of Pete! Time to think about going home, changing into my pjs, lighting a candle and letting five children talk at me about their days.

Did I mention that 5:00 is also the start of happy hour on my schedule? Limiting choices might help increase my happiness, but a big ol’ glass of wine definitely will.

The Rise & Fall of a Momocracy

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