Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Early New Year's Resolution

Maybe no one else is interested in setting goals, say, the week before Christmas, but I feel urgently compelled to begin my new resolution now. My resolution follows the Boy Scouts' motto:
be prepared

A few weeks ago, I went into the Beinecke Library, where I used to work. I was chatting with a few old colleagues and a woman who began working there after I had left. I introduced myself, and added as a joke, "I'm the one who put the books back in the wrong places." One of my colleagues immediately responded, "Oh, not you, Becca. You would never misshelve a book. You are much too organized and focused to do that!" I stood there. I blinked. I said a silent prayer that this woman would always remember me in this way. I tried to think back to then, that time a millennium ago before kids...and, yes! I do believe I was organized. I do believe I planned ahead, set goals, had a predictable routine. I know now that in this particular phase in life, I can never expect the same sort of efficiency and productivity that I had then. And thank goodness for that, right?! I'm happy to live in a way that is so unlike a robot and so full of life.

However, a lot of things happened last summer. Most notably, our big move. And, after feeling pretty settled in my Utah routine, I haven't felt totally comfortable with my Connecticut groove. I find myself stuck with dreary, unplanned afternoons with the kids, thinking that if only I had taken a minute the night before to make a few plans, or find myself without my camera at the most beautiful moments of my day. My phone does not have a home, which is extremely dangerous. I am wishing for a better long-term planning system, so that next time Shane has a vacation week, we can go on vacation! Imagine that! I find that my information is in different places throughout the house, and I don't love having information that I need for the day to be on my laptop, since Nathan is so fixated on destroying the computer.


I am taking steps today to prepare myself for life. After reading the inspiring book, Steady Days, I am trying to help our little life here at the Lloyd household. As I am not a member of the cool phone club, I am not technologically equipped for amazing organizing apps. However, I am managing to organize my life by simply putting a 3-ring binder to use (nicknamed "the coach"). The binder has several sections --one section for daily "plan", a monthly calendar, a weekly meal plan with a plastic sleeve for the week's recipes, bills and a plastic sleeve that holds tithing slips, and a checkbook and stamps for those pesky bills that I still pay by mail, and the last section is named "braindump", which is my most invaluable resource. Every time I think of something that is bouncing around in my brain, I write it down in the braindump section; I also take a minute first thing in the morning to sit and think if there is anything that should be written down there. Ah, it's a relief to have one place to be able to write these things down. I do much better when I have this information for me on paper in one place. I can't keep track of things on the computer. The screen just doesn't quite work.

The plan is to have a big meeting with myself on Sunday evenings, planning meals, activities, and appointments. Then, throughout the week, I take a minute every night directly after putting the boys down and plot out plans for the next day. If I just spend from 7:00 to 7:30 packing a lunch, getting out supplies for a fun activity, putting away shoes and mittens so they can be found instantly, and just thinking about it, the next day has a destination. I feel like I'm taking advantage of these precious moments with my little guys, rather than wishing away the minutes until they go to [insert: kindergarten, high school, college!]. I've got my kids' attention right now and I want to make the most of it!

With the basics planned out, I've had a chance to think longer term--what can I help the boys learn this next year? What kinds of fun things do we want to do this summer? What kinds of activities do Nathan and Peter like to do together? I'm excited to really think about mothering on a broader level. I must add one major caveat here, however: with all the plans that I've been making, I continue to be a soft as putty when the realities of life with tiny kids hit. I don't care if the plans don't work out. I find that being spontaneous is easier for me when there is a plan, because I have a choice of plan a and (new) plan b. Hey, let's get crazy and do the unexpected. I just don't care for large expanses of unplanned time with preschoolers. That is not spontaneous fun, that is torturous negotiating about why we don't eat ice cream for lunch and why we can't jump off the couch onto our baby brother. What I really want as a mom right now is to have A LOT OF FUN. I want to enjoy being with my boys. If I can think ahead about how to do this, I'm hoping to increase the odds.

Other things I need to do to be prepared: make a diaper bag that works. I have 3 diaper bags at the moment that have zero functionality. I actually feel mad when I look at them. I am going to design and sew my dream diaper bag! Yay! With enough room for my massive camera, special pockets for my keys, my phone, and (safe) storage for knitting, and, of course, enough room for diapers, wipes, and little packages of tissues. Ah, I need those tissues. Does anyone have a good place to buy them? What would you think of me if I told you that the last time we went to the park, I resorted to wiping Nathan's nose with a leaf? Pretty classy.

And, as the busy season of birthdays, Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas winds down, I'd like to plan ahead and use the barren months (January, February, March) to get ahead. I love Christmas so much, and there are many things that I'd love to do for next year. Planning ahead! Being prepared!

I'd also like to dedicate some of my resolution for food storage to prepare for any eminent danger or disaster that might come our way. I'm dedicating the first FHE of the month to being prepared, with food storage planning, 72-hour kit assembling, and escape-route plotting. Peter even asked me the other day, "Mom, if there was a fire on the stairs and we were in bed, how would we get out?" Ummmm, good question, Peter. Let's figure that out!

So. anybody there [crickets chirping]? I'd like to post more on this blog, and report specifically about my progress. It's a sensational way to feel accountable for all that goes on around here. I know that being a mom at home who writes a blog could not be more cliche, but I love the support I feel from you friends out there. There are very few adult voices in my life, simply because I don't have the luxury of talking on the phone much or meeting up for lunch (imagine: meeting up with friends for lunch without kids! dreamy...) So, I'll be posting more....and if you leave a comment, I will love you for it.

Wish me luck!


Kristy said...

I love this quote: "That is not spontaneous fun, that is torturous negotiating about why we don't eat ice cream for lunch and why we can't jump off the couch onto our baby brother."

Planners unite! Sometimes we just have to come to grips that spontaneity does indeed, take a certain amount of planning. :)

Can't wait to hear more of your plans and adventures

Kristy said...

PS. Forget the little tissues. Deanna has taught me the convenience and multiple uses of wet wipes. I now keep a Sam's club thing of wipes everywhere. In the kitchen for little spills on the floor or to wipe sticky hands and faces, in the car for who knows what and definitely in the diaper bag. Way cheaper than little tissues and so useful! It may even save you from using leaves to wipe yucky noses...though that was definitely channeling your inner girl scout.

Todd said...

Hey, you have people in your audience who planned the exact order of rides at disneyland in order to have spontaneous fun. that's life with kids. The days are long but the years are short. Good luck!

Deanna said...

Great goals, Becca!! I feel like I am constantly trying to re-think the way I organize my life to take better advantage of my time and opportunities with my kids. But that's just it - these kids are changing each moment and we kind of have to do that. I agree with you that everything in my day seems to go better when I have a plan, even if we don't do what the plan was!

I look forward to more posts in this topic!!

Carlee Dynes said...

There is no shame in wiping noses with leaves. I think Jack actually prefers it (although I'm careful to choose a soft looking one). I feel like I have this talk with myself (about planing my life a little better so we can make the most of our time instead of just letting it slip away in an insane frenzy) at least once a month. I am motivated.

Jill said...

Becca, can I come over!? Thanks for the inspiration. It does feel so great to be prepared and it's tricky to find a system that works so I'd love to hear how yours works for you. And not really related, but I just finished the book NutureShock--loved it. There was a section on sibling rivalry and while we are still early in those conflicts, Kate and Gwen do pretty well together. The research in the book said one big indicator of how an old sibling will treat a younger sibling is how well they played with friends when the younger sibling was born. And of course I immediately thought of Peter and their sweet friendship. We have so much to thank you guys for! Merry Christmas! Miss you!

nathalia said...

Love your energy! You're an inspiration! The diaper bag dilemma - you should patent your design.

My mom always used to tell me: Do it, do it right, do it right now. Not always the perfect plan, but it's a good way TO plan. The nightly planning session is genius! Can't wait to hear about how it goes!

Marlo said...

Wow, you have been busy! I love the Sunday planning meeting with yourself. I have been wanting to do that for forever, but usually fail. Tonight I finally did it. Yea! I am excited to see your progress and I am looking forward to getting some good ideas. We have been using thee WeeFolkArt Preschool curriculum,, to stay busy..when I remember and plan ahead! Good luck and bon courage.

Holly said...

Thanks. I needed this. I found that getting up at 5 am allowed me to do what I needed to do without infringing on kiddo time, but I haven't been able to get back into it for the last 6 months...

I am officially planning to plan, and just ordered Steady Days. It has been on my wish list for far too long.