We’ve had a pleasantly quiet New Year’s Eve and I’ve enjoyed some time writing, pondering the upcoming year. As the mother of a four-year-old and one-year-old, I don’t have enough energy to make resolutions. Yet, I love the beginning of a new year and I have many aspirations for 2016. I have so many, I divided them into categories! The categories are as follows: Self-Improvement & Self-Care, Family, Household, and Blog.

Self-Improvement & Self-Care

  1. Seek joy and contentment in my current role of stay-at-home mama and full-time home-keeper. When I was little (from around ages nine to eleven), I had a next-door neighbor who was a stay-at-home mom in her early thirties, with a craft and stationary business on the side. I thought she was the coolest—so sophisticated, creative, pretty, and organized—and I wanted to be just like her once I was in my thirties. I dreamed that I would be a stay-at-home mom and work on creative endeavors on the side.

    During my first three years of motherhood, I worked outside of the home, but I began staying home with my children full-time when my second was due, about sixteen months ago. More often than not, I’ve been grouchy about my daily routine (sleep deprivation doesn’t help!). This year, I want to keep at the forefront of my mind that this is essentially the life I always hoped for. I know it will be so much easier in just a couple of short years when my baby is a big girl, past the toddler stage. Last week, I read a Living with Kids interview with Amelia Hahnke, on Design Mom, that deeply impacted me (also, a home tour is a part of the interview and her home is exactly my taste—clean and inviting, with a cottage aesthetic). Amelia writes the following:

    I’m happy to just care for my kids, and I hope they grow up feeling that. I’ve always wanted to be a mother, more than anything else. Making lunches, wiping noses, picking up toys — all those things are tiring and hard. But those things are my duties!

    I don’t ever want my children to feel like taking care of them is a chore for me. I hope I’m always joyful about it.

    My mom is nothing but love and comfort and happiness to me, and she found even the smallest ways to make us girls feel loved: turning down our covers at night, always playing music, or popping our towels in the dryer to warm them up minutes before our baths were over. Those are the kind of simple, happy memories I want my own kids to have of home.

    This interview had me in tears! It reminded me, in the most gentle, poignant way, that our children intuit our every action and that our responses have an immediate and long-lasting affect on them. I want to bless my children with gentleness and patience, founded in joy and contentment.
  2. Read one book a month. With two little girls about, this would be a big accomplishment for me! I need to nourish my brain. I often think about the fact that reading a book teaches your brain to carry on a longer conversation, while the world of blogs and news sites fragments your thinking and shortens your attention span. I want long conversations in my life.
  3. Cut back on reading blogs and looking at the phone during the day. This is so difficult for me and I find that I’m most successful when I make the decision to put it away entirely until evening.
  4. Eat something green every day. Green smoothies make this easy to accomplish, if I keep the ingredients on hand. Still, I also want to become more consistent with cooking vegetables for my family.
  5. Go to bed by 10:00 every night. Honestly, I can’t wait to be old and go to bed by 8:00 or 9:00 or stay in bed all day if I want. One of my favorite artists, Marian Bantjes, says that one of her secrets to creativity is to sleep a lot.
  6. Go hiking in the summer. That’s all I can commit to as far as exercise right now!

Family

  1. Go to church together regularly.
  2. Cut back on evening television for everyone, to read more books with my daughters and prepare my girl for school. I always think of reading stories to my children as the basis of good parenting and the foundation of education. I think if I can do that, I’m doing pretty well. I need to invest more time into it than I have been. As I order books from the library this January, I’m referring to lists on Design Mom and Reading my Tea Leaves. Three Books A Night is another wonderful resource for discovering new titles for children. She often features interesting vintage books that you might not normally come across on your library shelf, but will likely be able to order through the library system.

Household

  1. Finish tidying up. In the KonMari method of tidying, you hold each and every item you own in your hands and feel whether or not it sparks joy. You give away those things that don’t, unless you must keep it for utilitarian purposes; in that case, you tuck joy into it (as an artist and writer, I also see the value of keeping some things that make you feel sad, if they are meaningful to you). Your significant other’s things and your children’s things are not part of this process. I started this process when I read The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up over a year ago. The book is so inspiring, but it’s hard to get to everything with children around. And our attic is in disarray.
  2. Keep up with the dishes.
  3. Create two separate bedrooms: one for my husband and I and one for the girls. Though they have their own beds, the girls sleep in our bed and my sleep is grievously interrupted every night. I am so over attachment parenting! The dilemma is that, in our 625 square foot home, one of our two small bedrooms is my husband’s office, in which a queen size bed will not fit, in addition to the desk. But that room works better for an office than the current bedroom, primarily because the light is more bright and cheery during the day. We’ve spent a lot of time trying to figure out the perfect solution and have gotten nowhere!
  4. Sew curtains for the living room and kitchen. I cut the fabric out months ago.
  5. Figure out art supply storage. The girls have art supplies in my writing desk, loose on top of the refrigerator, in an awful, dark lower cupboard in the kitchen, on the kitchen counter, and usually on the table. I want everything to be together and in something accessible and neat. I’m thinking a pretty basket on top of the refrigerator or a new-to-us, vintage dresser or armoire in the living room, which we could also use for toys and books.
  6. Tear up the carpet in our rental and restore the original pine floors that have been lying dormant. This dream is probably the least likely to come true on my list, but I wish for it often. The table that we use for dining and painting and other crafts is over the carpet and it’s impossible to keep up with all of the mess, try as I might!
  7. Paint the two walls of wood paneling in the living room. The paneling seems almost sacred, because it’s the last bit of wood that hasn’t been painted over in the last hundred years, aside from the ceiling, and I haven’t yet asked our landlord if we can paint it, but it’s so dark, especially in winter. I would really love a Swedish summer cottage look, with everything painted a light color and the pine floors whitewashed. It would suit the space so well!

Blog

  1. Take an online course on how to use my camera. I’ve been guessing.
  2. Spend more time on writing.
  3. Post twice a week.
  4. Watch the Creative Live food photography course my husband bought for me as an after-Christmas-sale Christmas present. I’m looking forward to it!

Though I never feel that this space is as beautiful or as professional as I would like, having it has given me something to think about beyond the monotony of housecleaning. It’s still in an experimental phase and I would love to keep working on it and honing the direction of the content.

Thank you to everyone who has been reading and leaving thoughtful comments here. It has been fun for me and I appreciate you all. Wishing everyone a peaceful and happy 2016.

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susanvanwynen
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Happy New Year! Inspiring! your girls are blessed to have you for their mother. And wish I could tell your landlords what wonders you could do there in your lovely little house! Maybe you should share your dreams with them! Oh, and let me know some of your book finds!

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