When our New Year resolutions go pear-shaped

Did you set an intention for this New Year? A new year’s resolution that you definitely intended on keeping for the year, no matter how hard or tempting it was to let it slide.

Whether it was giving up smoking, alcohol, sugar or junk foods, becoming vegan, hitting the gym, taking up a hobby – the list of things we beat ourselves up about and are determined to change is endless… But what happens if we don’t keep to them?

The intentions we have are generally heartfelt, borne out of the need to do better when we realise that our life right now isn’t as good as it can be and needs to change.

This is so admirable and a credit to the positivity of the human spirit in wanting to achieve, set goals and meet targets.

However, the downside is so often that we don’t quite meet up to our own expectations.

We might lack the staying power, the stickability, the resolve, find that what we think needed to change wasn’t actually as bad as it felt like before the New Year clock chimed midnight, or as so often happens – the rigours of life throw us off track once we get past the Christmas holidays and ‘normal life’ resumes.

If you’re a mum, you’ll be familiar with the festive holiday season and the emotions that come with it.

Looking forward to time off with the children and spending time as a family, not having to run from A to Z via C, D and N for the school run, after school clubs, play-dates, weekend activities, homework, work, stricter bedtimes and school morning wake-ups. Time to enjoy the freedom, laid back routine and carefree days.

Mind you, there are the downsides of bored children, possibly obsessed with technology, bickering and unstructured downtime to name but a few. Not to mention, childcare and the costs.

Holidays give us a false sense of security

However, for all its pros and cons, holiday season can lull us into a false sense of security. We often have more time on our hands to think, plan, do and relax meaning that some of our New Year resolutions can seem deceptively easy to achieve.

Yes I can give up drinking wine in the weekday evening because I haven’t juggled a million things during the day. Or, yes I can do some yoga at home because I haven’t got to rush out of the door looking fantastic on the way to work via the school drop off.

Once the holidays end and school routine re-starts we are so often physically tired, worn down by the requirements of the day that maintaining (even remembering) to keep up with our well-intentioned New Year’s resolution can be farthest from the list.

So, my point is this… Not why do we make New Year resolutions in the first place, because I’m all for goals and planning and targets…

But why get frustrated and give up when we fail, saying that it will have to wait for next year, January 1st?

It seems all or nothing.

I’m not even an advocate of waiting until next month, next week or next day. I think we should be happy with what we have achieved so far.

Count your blessings and here are some examples:

I have a roof over my head, there is dinner on the table, my kids are fed, watered and clothed. Don’t forget that you are a Mum in Progress. This means that you are not perfect, but you are working on it by striving to improve and never, ever putting yourself down.

Give yourself some grace, or a cup of tea, or 10 minutes in front of the TV or reading a book, whatever allows you time to regroup and summon up the strength to get back on track.

Who cares if you missed a day, a week or a month of getting fit, cutting down on caffeine? Only you can make it into a big deal.

Finding balance

Remember that life is about balance, finding your own balance,  not bouncing from one extreme to the other being blown off track by every little metaphorical gust of wind that blows (and goodness knows us Mums need flexibility from the choppy seas of motherhood).

Try to work out what threw you off balance.

  • Was it that you didn’t allow yourself enough time to fit in the whole exercise programme?
  • Did you not plan your shopping and meals/snacks for the coming days so you had nothing healthy to munch on and hit the biscuit tin instead?
  • Were you over-ambitious and thought you could fit in half an hour of meditation whilst your kids were watching TV or maybe you opted to cut out alcohol only to realise that you craved some unwinding juice to help you relax at the end of the day and the children’s fruit juice wasn’t an adequate substitute.

These are vital questions that can help to ensure that you don’t get thrown off track again. They might not totally prevent it happening again but it definitely may help.

For every day that goes past, give yourself a little pat on the back and congratulate yourself on following through, staying strong and remembering why you are doing it and who you are doing it for.

If you feel selfish, always remember the saying that you can’t keep pouring out of a cup that is empty. You need to replenish your cup so you can continue to look after, support and love everyone who relies on you.

Give yourself an incentive

Give yourself an incentive, buy an item of clothing with the money you’ve saved from cutting out smoking, treat yourself to a lovely meal out at the weekend when you’ve maintained your healthy diet during the week.

You’re much more likely to continue with your chosen resolution when you know that it’s not going to mean constant pain and self-punishment for the foreseeable future.

If you do falter (and this is only natural), be realistic and definitely don’t be hard on yourself. Learn your lessons to help avoid them next time, cut yourself some slack and start again.

Don’t wait for tomorrow, or the next day or whenever because you CAN do it now.

Remember that you are amazing and you can put your mind to whatever it is you want. The only thing I would say is that you need to want it badly enough. So, if you find yourself consistently failing, maybe ask yourself why? Is it not actually that important, was the resolution set by someone other than you, was it set in haste, is it the right time?

Whatever the resolution is, you should determine if it’s right for you. If it is, work out how to enable it to happen, factor in the times when it might go pear-shaped and what you’re going to do about it when and if that happens, get others on board so they know what you’re trying to do and can help you achieve it.

Above all – don’t worry if you have an off day. You are human, a Mum in Progress. What you are trying to do is achieve some balance and set yourself a purpose. That’s amazing!

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