by Laura Onstot | Laura Onstot, registered nurse and mom of 2 young kids, rarely pees alone, only frequents restaurants with Kraft Mac N Cheese, and blogs at Nomad’s Land. In her spare time, she can be found sleeping on the couch while she lets her kids watch endless episodes of Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. Her parenting advice is questionable, but at least she’s honest.
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In the past, my New Year’s resolutions were unsuccessful. Each January, I would dream up fantastic resolutions. Like eating healthily, or doing yoga seven days a week, or being kinder to myself. By February, I was no longer following them; and by June, I had no memory of what the resolutions even were.
But these New Year’s resolutions never got me anywhere, partly because they were vague and partly because it’s hard to focus on just one thing for a whole year. How am I supposed to measure being kind to myself? And what does eating healthily even mean? Five Oreos per day instead of ten?
So, on New Year’s Day of 2021, I decided to try something new. On a large sheet of butcher paper, taped to the sliding door in our kitchen, I wrote a list of things I wanted to accomplish throughout the year. My list included activities like kayaking, paddle boarding, and cooking every recipe in the book “A Homemade Life.” It included travel spots and the elusive goal to set up a chore routine for the kids. It had a section for things I wanted more of: date nights, beach days, family adventures, and reading. And a section for the things I wanted less of: phone, media, and saying yes to things I don’t want to do.
When it was complete, I posted the list in our mud-room. I stared at it as I put my shoes on for the day, and I stared at it again when I took them off. It was the last thing I saw when I left the house and the first thing I saw when I entered.
It gave me a reason to do all the things I had wanted to try. And let me tell you, it was the most fun, productive year of my life.
Sometimes, it is easy to push the “fun things” off our to-do lists. They seem frivolous and unnecessary. But maybe, they belong on the list. Maybe, these are the most important things.
When I became a mom, I was sucked into a vortex of undivided attention for my kids. I slowly forgot about the person I was before having kids, pushing passion projects off my plate.
But playing endless games of imaginary Paw Patrol was not sustainable. My soul could not handle another situation that Skye and Everest needed to solve. In my personal opinion, Mayor Humdinger is a fraud and should be put in jail for life. Adventure Bay would be a lot more peaceful without him, and then the pups could continue playing together rather than getting interrupted by Ryder. Marshall should be evaluated for a head injury, and Chickaletta should be eaten. But I digress.
By starting to cross things off my list, I became a better mom. I was refreshed and less likely to be grumpy when I returned from paddleboarding or a long hike. I was able to model to my girls that you don’t have to lose yourself in becoming a mother.
The list pushed me out of my comfort zone. I took classes and met an array of people who further pushed me to follow my dreams. I hunted for the best ice cream spot, road-tripped to the Smoky Mountains, and found a hiking spot near home- complete with a bamboo forest.
I kept track of “unplanned bonuses” at the bottom of the list. These were things I didn’t have on the list, but that happened anyway. Things like: running a half marathon, starting composting, going on a swamp walk, watching the miracle of caterpillars turning into butterflies, surfing behind a surf boat, and getting an essay published for the first time.
The list not only served as an inspiration to get the things done- but it also served as a reminder of the beauty that occurred during 2021. When I look at my list, now filled with check marks and notes about when and where I accomplished things, it brings up beautiful memories.
Feeling inspired to write your own list? Do it!
Here are some tips:
- Your list should not look like mine… unless you creepily share all of my passions, dreams, and goals. It should reflect who you are and include things you are passionate about – things you love – things that sound fun. It can include breadcrumbs toward a big goal you might have for the future. Bottom line- it should be jam-packed with things that excite and maybe scare you a little.
- Write out your list on a large piece of paper, and put it where you will see it daily.
- Be as specific as you can be, and try to make the goals things that can be crossed off.
- Get started on your list right away! Once you check off one thing, the inspiration will fuel you to keep going.
- If some of your goals change throughout the year, don’t sweat it. A couple of things I wrote down in January were things that ended up being things I wasn’t interested in pursuing. The goal is not to check everything off your list. The goal is to get outside of your comfort zone and do things you love.
- Leave room for an unplanned bonuses section, and be sure to record your accomplishments as they occur. This list will be an immediate pick-me-up on days you are feeling down.
If you make a list, we’d love to see it! Tag us on Instagram at @atomic_mommy.
Prepare yourself for an epic year ahead – Happy 2022!