No New Year's resolutions for one Chicago mom


By Melissa Haak

Member of the Chicago Parent Blog Network

The freshness of a new year often prompts the re-evaluating and refocusing of goals and ideas. Jan. 1 is the ever-popular time to start a new diet, a new hobby, set new goals and make long lists of resolutions. I've stopped setting myself up for the failure of resolutions. I like to look at each new day, new week, new month as a chance to make changes. Instead of making resolutions I have started choosing one word to guide me and help me make changes and move forward on ideas.

Last year my word was breathe {I'm sure there's a blonde joke in there somewhere}. It was more of a reminder that "this too shall pass," to take it all in, one breath, one moment, at a time. I've gotten better. It will continue to be at the back of my mind in those moments when I just want to scream and walk away. I can look up at the word art hanging on my wall and remember, breathe it in, blow it out, move on.

This year feels like a year of change. We are moving out of the baby stage of life. Every day the baby becomes less baby and more toddler and zooms full speed into childhood. That means there is more stuff to sift through, more clothes and toys to donate and more rooms to rearrange and baby proof. Before I know it, it will be fall and preschool and I will once again be at home with just one child who, all limbs crossed, still naps in the afternoons. That leaves opportunities for thoughts, growth and change.

This year has been anything but easy. Adjusting to two kids in school, a new baby and a growing at-home career has left life feeling chaotic. I know things need to change and I have to find a better way to balance it all. This month's Real Simple magazine is all about life balance and I am loving it! I have written on balance, spoken on balance and made it my mission to try to figure it out. Lean in and listen close while I tell you this, it doesn't exist. Life is a give and take and you always have to give up something to do something else, it's impossible to balance it all. However, I have learned that life can feel more balanced and less chaotic when you are focused and, to a degree, organized and intentional.

In Kristin Van Ogtrop's Real Simple editor's letter this month she has a quote that says "How you do anything is the way you do everything." Right now I do everything rushed, scattered, in a hurry and/or late. I don't want to be that frazzled mom of four running around like a chicken with its head cut off. I want to -- no, I need to -- focus. I need to become intentional in my actions, with my words, with my time. I need to focus my energy on the things that I want to grow and thrive and I need to stop letting things {ahem, Facebook} distract me from the things that need to be done.

My word this year is Focus. It's going to mean tough conversations with myself and saying no to good things. It's going to mean taking a good hard look at how I do things. It's also going to permeate my every day and connect back to what I started last year with breathe. I want to focus on the moment, the task at hand, the right now, instead of thinking about all the other things I could do.

As a creative person that is Type A and a little OCD, it's not going to be easy. When I get an idea I want to do it right away, to sit down and not move again until it's completed. I jump in with two feet and I don't always know what's going on around me. That doesn't work as a mother or a wife. Worse yet I see that behavior starting to come out in my children. My son can become so focused on what he's doing he doesn't hear you talking to him. He is so dead set on doing something a certain way or finishing an idea to perfection he is crushed when it doesn't turn out. I can't tell my kids over and over again to slow down and focus if I am modeling them a scattered, running around behavior.

Focus, it's my word to guide me through 2014. Do you have one? Share it with me!


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