Updated: Feb 12, 2020
I don't really do New Year's resolutions, but I realize that it's a period of time during the year that I really look forward to. Unfortunately, this year the kiddos and I all came down with some tremendously exhausting cold that wiped so many of my expectations for recovering from the holidays off the radar. I barely kept up with a dramatically reduced freelance load. It also reminded me that I was totally unprepared this flu season to deal with the inevitable, and we ran to our local drugstore yesterday to stock up on some essentials,... also resulting in us feeling a vast deal better today. I have to be more careful than usual with what I take, since being five months pregnant limits most of the medicines that most people can take.
If you're fighting a seasonal cold with cough and congestion, I'll telling you anything with elderberry will help immensely. I also have been taking an immune-boosting lysine supplement which has the splendid side effect of being great for fighting acne and hormonal skin problems(also a bigger problem for me during pregnancy than most of the time). We turned on a diffuser with an excellent breathe-easy blend.
Now that we're on the way up out of this junky cold, I get to turn my focus back to my reason to love the post-holiday season. January is my slow time of year as far as my freelance work. So I use it as a time to regroup, reorganize, and clean up after the Christmas craziness and before all my time is eaten up by work projects again. Even more fitting now since we have germs everywhere.
I always have to remind myself that I feel better, healthier, more sane when I know things are clean and the clutter is under control.
THREE STEPS TO A NEW YEAR'S CLEAN
1.) D e c l u t t e r.
Dunno about you, but my house seems to just grow clutter like well-watered weeds. I know where it comes from (mostly me), and I know the solution (don't put something down where it doesn't go), but I haven't become a balanced and disciplined enough person yet to notice where I'm setting all my stuff down. Before I know it, there are the same piles of my things littering all the living spaces, while at the same time I'm pleading for my kids not to leave their toys all over the house.
Piling things neatly on the desk, putting all the kitchen counter stuff into the appropriate drawers and cupboards, actually folding a blanket instead of leaving it in a wad on the couch, making the bed, and putting the shoes by the door in a straight line can make a world of difference.
Forget what you think you know about how long it takes to tidy up. With a short-burst determination to not be interrupted for 10 minutes, you'll be amazed at how much you can get done in a short amount of time. I do almost all of my daily tidying up in the 20 minutes between when my husband gets off work and when he gets home.
Another good piece of advice I've heard is to just take tidying up as a series of baby steps or baby tasks. Only clean up for one single minute, for instance while you're waiting for hot water to boil for tea or someone to call you back. In a few of these small intervals, you'll have done most of the decluttering the kitchen will need today.
It's amazing how much easier it is to breathe...
2.) Do the Deep Clean
DEEP CLEAN THE WHOLE HOUSE? I can hear the panicked screaming. No, that's not(exactly) what I'm saying. Remember that we're working on a balanced life. All too often I spend an entire day cleaning up the whole house in preparation for company to come. Why? Because I don't keep up with it. To tell you the truth, I have no idea when the last time was that I mopped or scrubbed the kitchen floor... I know it was least five months ago. Neither avoiding a cleaning task for half a year nor spending a whole day cleaning to avoid embarrassment is balanced.
So what I mean is deep clean something. I don't mean deep clean everything. And then next time deep clean something else. It takes probably a week or more of dedicated time to do traditional "spring cleaning" that only becomes necessary if we don't keep up with it in small chunks. Think about it like drinking water. You can't just not drink for four days and then expect to make it up on next one. Not only will you feel gross when you're thirsty, you'll feel gross when you drink a ton at once. Instead, you space it out so that it is more manageable and never strikes you as an overwhelming task.
My goal is to deep clean a couple things a week. I'm a little "behind" right now because of the holidays and a week of germs floating around every surface. But I'll bet you it will seem like a lot less work if I commit to decluttering in small increments, spending a little more focus on not setting things down where they don't go, and deep cleaning a thing or two at a time for the next couple weeks. After all, I do still have some work, and two kids to homeschool, and a family to cook for, and a pregnancy to exhaust me. No need to burn out recovering from a sickness caused by burnout.
This may sounds funny after the last two point. But is it, really? I'm telling you, my kids are beyond sad that dad wants the Christmas tree down a week and a half ago. There is a certain sense of giving up when you put all the twinkly things away and accept that it's January and Christmas is decidedly over.
I don't have any peculiar obsession with Christmas, the food, the presents, the lights, but I feel a sense of loss when we put our few decorations away. Maybe it's because I've been too poor most of my life to decorate for anything else. So this year, we've going to make some "winter" decorations to remind us of the beauty that's still found all around even when the lights are gone. (Although, maybe we'll put some lights up in a different spot.) Doesn't have to be anything more elaborate than a set of nice paper snowflakes, but it adds the finishing touches to a New Year's clean.
In closing, I have a real life with real balance problems and a personality type that likes to overfocus and juggernaut my way through one big project after another and leave all the little tasks to become mountains before they're dealt with. If this is you, join me in an effort to find a better balance. We are parents and partners, housekeepers and hosts, laundromats and personal shoppers, students and educators, and still people with character and ambition and love of life. Let's not get so tied to any one task that we miss out on the fullness of our responsibilities and joys. Happy New Year!
Let me know how you piece yourself back together after the holidays. Leave a comment below!