Out of all of my 35 years now, I have been so, so fortunate enough to never have had what I would consider a truly terrible year, although I’m sure the odds are that there will be some that will definitely fall into that category in the future. However, I have to say that looking back on this year there have been highs, lows and well, overall possibly a little bit feeling…meh.
We have been lucky enough to have had some incredible holidays and trips as a family in 2018 (skiing, Ibiza, and next week, Disneyland Paris), all of which have been definite highlights and involved ‘pinch me’ moments. Touch wood, we are all healthy and here, and compared to some friends and acquaintances of mine who have either been very ill, or have lost family this year, I feel grateful every day. Despite (in the grand scheme of things) our fairly small house-moving woes, we still have a lovely house that we don’t NEED to leave if it all goes tits up, so I can’t really complain at all.
However, and I think because of all our house move uncertainty, this year has felt very unsettled, still not knowing whether we’re staying in our current place or (hopefully) moving to the house we want, that is miraculously for us still on the market (I’m loving and hating Brexit uncertainty for the housing market in equal measures right now). As a result I’ve felt quite distracted from ‘life’ a fair bit this year, and not always really present and enjoying the moment. I’m someone who throws myself into new projects and ideas, so when I naively presumed we would sell quickly and move, I had kind of already mentally moved out of our current place. It’s taken me a few months again to settle down and ‘move back in’, and it’s only really actually been the last month or so that I’ve had a more ‘what will be will be’ attitude.
I’m going to be taking my usual couple of weeks off over Christmas and New Year shortly, so thought this would be a good time to reflect on what I’ve learned in 2018 – and see if I can apply any of these lessons to 2019!
- Sleep is important. At the beginning of the year we had a 6 month old Arlo, and out of all 3 of our kids he’s been our worst sleeper. He’s been (sometimes) sleeping through since the summer, but still isn’t consistent, and sleep, or lack of it, really makes a huge difference to your mental health, productivity and mood. It could be a big part of why I’ve felt more ‘meh’ this year than any other, and likely why I haven’t achieved quite a few things on my ‘list’ for 2018. I always feel a million times better after a few nights of decent sleep!
- Give yourself a break. I’m definitely my own worse critic, and can be really hard on myself if I don’t achieve what I set out to do/ the house is a mess/ The kids are being difficult. For example, I’ve barely pushed my kids book at all this year as planned (see sleep, above), but it’s only in the latter part of this year that I’ve realised that it’s okay. It’s great to have goals, but life isn’t perfect, things go ary, kids play up, and your house can’t look like Instagram perfection all the time. Since I’ve tried to let go of perfection, I definitely feel more ‘zen’ and <shocker> the world doesn’t stop turning, and life is happier when you’re less stressed.
- Giving makes you feel happier. I watched a brilliant TED talk a while ago (more on this in a future blog post) about how being more giving makes both adults and children happier, and it sounds ridiculous as I certainly don’t think I’m tight, but it was a bit of a lightbulb moment and something I want us as a family to make more effort with in 2019. Our children are very, very fortunate and want for nothing, and I think it will be good for us all to think a bit more about others and give a bit more back.
- I miss my creative blog posts. Since having Arlo, and this year in particular, my time to work has been much more limited, and that, combined with tiredness, has meant that my lovely, organic, creative posts have suffered at the expense of paid blog and social media work. I really, really want that to change next year, and focus on more interiors again, my family diary posts, crafts and activities with Arlo, and photography as I really enjoy writing them and editing photos. I feel it’s got a bit slapdash in 2018 and I really want to rectify this.
- Don’t worry what other people are doing. There will always be someone who seems more successful in their career, has a bigger house, more followers on Instagram, thinner, richer etc etc. There will always be someone out there who doesn’t approve of your choices or decisions, but you need to focus on what makes you and your family happy. The old saying is true, you can’t please everyone!
- Pick your battles when it comes to parenting. One of our children is pretty willful and possibly slightly harder to parent than the others. I’ve discovered that rather than going in for a ‘fight’ all guns blazing and trying to gain the upper hand before a conflict has even started, that being calmer, listening and compromising often works best. We’re still shit-hot on clamping down on any rudeness, unkindness or answering back, but by picking battles life is calmer and it’s a happier household. Don’t want to wear your coat even though it’s cold? Fine, but be prepared to be cold. Don’t want to eat most of your dinner? Also fine, but don’t expect sweet treats an hour later etc etc
- I still like my work-life balance. I think it’s always good to do a yearly career ‘self appraisal’, and having done so I know I still like my day job as a digital marketing manager despite a few challenges, as well as my freelance blog work. I feel lucky to be well paid for working the equivalent of 3 days a week at the moment (2 days and then 1 day’s worth of hours spread out over evenings and Arlo’s nap times). I suspect not many working mums have this and I will remain feeling grateful.
- …Although I don’t have to check my emails all the time! I’ve realised this year that’s it’s okay to only check emails a couple of times a day, not every 10 minutes or so. I have gained so much time back! Ditto social media. I’ve started leaving my phone upstairs when I go down to the kitchen in the morning and getting everyone ready for school and time doesn’t run away with me anymore- total game changer (sadly).
- Chocolate Orange Baileys is INCREDIBLE. As was The Bodyguard, that Pineapple cheese wheel thing you can get from Tesco and pink gin and tonic.
- Nothing will make you laugh harder than a toddler. I’m so grateful for getting the chance to experience the ways of a 17 month old once again, it’s priceless!
What have you learned in 2018?!