Freedom Fridays – Past Year Review

I’ve always been one for the usual and obvious New Year’s resolutions that normally revolve around exercise and weight. It’s great to have a bit of time today, with my mini-me in nursery, to really have a think about the coming year. My husband, always one for a podcast and some motivational guru or another, sent me a blogpost by a gent named Tim Ferriss. Contrary to my belief that he was one of the brothers from the ’80s/’90s band INXS (that would be Farriss then), this guy has the kind of blog following a humble little mum-blogger like me could only dream of (we are talking millions here). Thanks to Tim, I’ve taken a slightly different slant on my usual ‘lose a stone, exercise more… blah blah blah…’ approach to January.

Tim (www.tim.blog) suggests a ‘past year review’, creating two columns; positive and negative. From your diary, you are then to go back through each week of 2019 and jot down any people, activities and commitments that trigger peak positive and negative emotions. From this you then remove the negatives from your coming calendar and get booked in the things that spark positivity. I gave this a try and whilst I’m not going to share the ins and outs of my jottings, it was heartening to see that the majority were positive. There are a lot of people and places we want to see more of in the coming year. Yet why do I enter this new decade with the sense that things have been so much more up and down than my list suggests and therefore need more equilibrium?

To try and unpick it further and carry out a past year review my way; this week’s top three are the three questions I need to ask myself.

One – Where have things not gone so well?

Wait – why aren’t I starting positives? It’s my view that I need to take out the trash before I start clearing up so let’s get these out of the way. Anger management. That really has not gone so well. For all the greatness in my life and the many things I am extremely grateful for, I can be a little ball of hell-fire. Over the course of the year, I could probably have fuelled the national grid with some of the tension and frustration I’ve carried around. What has been the cause of the door-slamming, fire-breathing demon I seem to unleash on those closest to me? I don’t have the stress of work, I create my own timetable, I have the husband and home I’ve always wanted and have the most beautiful, warm and wonderful son to spend all my time with.

I can only put it down to three things: tiredness, change and equity. I feel like I’ve not slept properly in two and a half years. When I’m frazzled, I don’t deal with things in a serene and measured way. I tend to turn in to a Gorgon who will tongue lash anyone who should not meet my smallest expectations. I still need to adjust to this new role. A year and a term after taking a break from my career to become a full-time mum and I’m still finding my feet. Marriage and parenthood is supposed to be an equal partnership but where does my ‘mum-job’ end and the shared responsibility kick in? The fuzzy line betwixt the two is the heart of much of my angst. That and the constant question of whether I’m doing a good enough job. Hell, the ‘Hinch army’ would probably lynch me if they witnessed my lacklustre attempts at cleaning daily.

Certain things don’t help. Caffeine. My intake has been off the scale in the last year. Bouncing from coffee-high to tired-low in a vain attempt to give my exhausted engine a kickstart has not been conducive to a zen outlook. Alcohol. On the rare occasion (I’m talking 2-3 times) in 2019 that I’ve had one too many, Demon Karen appears with her friends Criticism and Wrath. To this end I’ve all but given up the booze – 6am starts with a boisterous toddler are just not feasible hungover.

Whereas others things seem to soothe the savage beast: exercise, clean-eating and trying to snatch some time for self-reflection and gratitude have all helped deliver a calmer, more measured mumma. Clear messages are ringing out about what I can take from this in to 2020. I’m a strong believer in sustainable change coming from small steps. So here’s the micro changes I intend to make:

  • Hot water and lemon when I wake, rather than a fresh coffee
  • Limit myself to one coffee a day – with a decaf later if I have to
  • Exercise, if not daily, then 4 times a week
  • Start up my ‘6-minute-diary’ again to begin and end my day with gratitude and positivity
Two – Where have things gone well?

I’m still married. I have a roof over my head. We have clean clothes and full bellies. Harry is thriving.

Being a mum has been the most challenging and wonderful learning curve. For all the tantrums, (boyyyy have they kicked in this year) and all the new problems (night terrors, fussy eating, unwillingness to share), I feel I’ve found solutions and made it work somehow, with varying degrees of success. We have done some lovely things this year: Discover Story Centre, Science Museum, Natural History Museum, beach days, bluebell hunting, painting, watching the trains come and go at Liverpool Street station, sitting at the local tube station, the Eurostar to Paris, farm visits, lavender harvesting, forest exploration, seeing friends, British Museum, dressing up… the list goes on. There’s no one I’d rather fill my days with and I have loved seeing his inquisitive nature develop and his strong personality shine through as a result of our activities. I’ve done good.

Oh, and I’ve started a blog. It’s been so healthy for me to use my brain again – it was beginning to grow stalagmites postpartum. I have found this year something I had forgotten I had – a passion for writing. Finally that English and Drama degree has been used for more than just writing model texts for Year Sixes and reports to parents. I’ve been overwhelmed by those of you who have taken the time to read my over-sharing and honest accounts of life as a geriatric mum! Your likes and particularly comments have spurred me on and given a little bit of spark back to the non-mum bit of me. Truly, I thank you!

Three – What has made you laugh?
  • Harry – every day
  • Any time spent with friends
  • Girls holiday (tequila, Whispering Angels and all, Ms Williams)
  • Missing a flight to Portugal – sometimes all you can do is laugh
  • Seeing Harry with his Grannies, Grampy, Aunties and Uncles
  • Witnessing your own behaviour in your child – I know that hissy fit face!
  • Hearing Harry and Daddy having fun – heart literally bursts

To begin a new year is like a clean slate. Now I’ve swept out all the cobwebs and got everything in order, I’m ready to make those small adjustments. I don’t need a brand new Karen, just a few tweaks and minor modifications to present a calmer, happier one. Twenty-twenty: I do believe I’m ready for you!

How would you answer those questions? What has made you laugh this year? Do you make resolutions and if so, how do you make them stick past January? I’d love to her your thoughts. Happy New Year to you all!

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