So here’s the thing about resolutions. Or, how children ruin everything.

Obviously the Blogosphere is full of posts about New Year’s Resolutions– some serious, some sarcastic.  I like the idea of resolutions, I really do.  As my life gets more and more busy, I’ve found that taking time to inventory my goals helps me stay focused, and it keeps some of my dreams from slipping through the cracks.

When we first got married, I rolled my eyes at Matt and all his Franklin-Covey Core-values life-planning goal-sheets with step-by-step plans from today to exaltation.  I just liked to live life from day to day doing the best I could and figured that as long as I was pointed in the right direction, I’d eventually end up in the right place.  I was fine with that.  And it worked for a quite a while.  In some areas, it still does.  But once my days became divided between three little attention-parasites and a husband who wants me to remember he’s still around too, plus church and civic commitments… well, I got confused.  The whole “resolute” part of resolutions is the most difficult part.  It’s hard to keep track of everything without really thinking through what matters most and making sure it gets done.  It’s easy to get distracted.

I’ve tried list-making and note-taking.  I’ve posted goals on my bathroom mirror and kitchen cupboards.  But the thing that finally clicked for me came after I heard Sister Julie Beck’s talk about “intentional parenting” last Spring.  I learned that I needed to think about what I really want to accomplish with my family and build those related activities into our routines.  On purpose.  So, for me, goals and resolutions have turned into schedules and calendars.  I’ve found that when I actually PLAN my goals, they don’t disappear.

Do I want to make sure we make it to the temple?  Put it on the calendar!

Do I want my children to learn how to serve and how to work?  Put chores and service in the weekly routine.

I’ve spent the last week or two trying to think about what things are going well in our family, what things need to go, and what are things have been neglected.  Less TV?  More one-on-one time with kids?  Regular temple attendance?  More or less extra-curriculars?  When’s the best time to schedule in my scripture study so it has the greatest chance of getting done every day?  You get the idea.

It took days of thought and hours of document design, but this is the final result.  (Don’t you dare laugh at me.)

So, this is what I’ve become.  I would have never imagined.  Then again, I shouldn’t be shocked since I do have a minivan and a mommy blog– a couple other things I probably didn’t originally have on my young, naive list of future plans.  Anyway, I was so proud of my new weekly schedule.  I showed it to the kids with optimistic enthusiasm.  They’re used to my constant charts and signs, so they were on board.

And then like a dark cloud, the holidays were over and today was back to school, back to real life, and test-drive day for our new weekly schedule.  Please tell me that your children go through post-holiday detox too.  They were out of control.  No more presents to open, no more grandparents to entertain them, no more unlimited access to movies and computer games, no more days off of school.  If I could describe the day in one phrase . . . it was a day of time-outs within time-outs (breaking rules upon rules while still being punished for the last broken rules).  I really wanted to throw out the schedule and tell them to go watch TV until bedtime.  Needless to say, my twinkly dreams of an organized and peaceful New Year went up in flames by about 3:00 p.m. and my children’s chances of living through the month were almost completely diminished by 6:00 p.m.

And this is where the whole “resolute” thing comes into play.  Are the goals important to me?  Yes.  Is it worth sticking it out and being consistent?  I think so.  Will my children be incarcerated in the process?  I hope not.  I have to believe that with commitment and consistency, we’ll fall into a routine that reflects what kind of family we want to be.  This is not a new concept around here– there was a summer schedule and a Fall schedule and this one is just adjusted for changing family needs.  (As a side note, I’m not a nazi about the schedule minute-to-minute, but it gives direction and focus to each day.  For example, a day with emphasis on service, one on outings, one on chores, etc.)  They’ve learned to thrive in the routines in the past and they’ll do it again, if I can survive the first two weeks.  Wish me luck.

Here are three talks (in addition to the Sister Beck one I mentioned earlier) that have really helped me in trying to figure out what kinds of things need to be part of our family’s patterns.  The first two are both by Elder Dallin H. Oaks, and the third by Elder Bednar.

“Good, Better, Best”

“Focus and Priorities”

“More Diligent and Concerned at Home”

Happy New Year!