One Word Resolution, by Helen

This year I have made a one word resolution to apply to all aspects of my life. Instead of unachievable goals, I have a principle for living.

I used to make resolutions. I suppose it was an antidote to the let-down that was New Year’s Eve; that night where I would have the best party ever, meet someone exciting, kiss the boy I’d fancied all year long, and wake feeling exhilarated and full of anticipation. I would make all sorts of plans, changes, convictions for the following 12 months.

That was before jaded reality set in. Those parties were always a let-down; he wouldn’t show, someone rubbish would try his luck, or we’d get chucked out of the pub for having no ID. New Years Eve became a symbol of regret for everything I’d not achieved the precious year.

Most Januarys I’d start a health kick, convinced that this would be the year I’d finally manage to eschew chocolate and wine, favouring instead 10k runs in the bitter cold and soul-destroying hours staring at the FTSE 100 at the gym. I never made it to February, and would feel even more depressed.

This week is the first time I’ve made it into a new year without a sense of loss. My children are sad and resisting the great decoration pull-down, but I feel more positive than I have in a long time. And that can only be down to one thing: I’ve made no resolutions. Instead, I am defining an ongoing development in my life – one of nurturing myself and my family.

What is a one word resolution?

I came across a post by Dorky Mum recently, in which she describes her own process of self-evaluation as each new year approaches. She considers where she is in her life, and what she would like to focus on over the coming year. Then she gives it one word. I like this idea of a one word resolution – a sort of anchor for the inevitable chaos and fickleness that is family life. I cannot predict what will happen this year, but I can focus on how I want it to happen.

My one word resolution is “Nurture”

I will nurture myself:

Over the last few months I’ve changed the way I eat. Not dramatically – I still eat chocolate, plum crumbles, pork crackling, and real butter. But my plate is not so full, and I don’t always finish my meals. I listen to my body and stop when I feel full. I feel better for it, and it shows on the scales.

I know I need to be fitter too, having reached that age where lectures about bone density and cholesterol are looming. The trouble is time; once the kids are at school I work until they come home, then I parent until they go to bed. At what point do I exercise in that routine?? And don’t say evenings – in 29 years I’ve made it outdoors in a pair of trainers after 7pm once!

I also need to watch more TV – bear with me here: I get jealous when Fearne Cotton discusses Sherlock, and I lament my naivety when friends pick over the latest episode of Homeland.

I will nurture my soul; before I had a young family, I would spend hours lying on the carpet listening to music. I would sing, then have a bath, and that time alone, relaxing, restored my soul. With the advent of social media I have neglected my soul in favour of interaction. There is always someone to talk to, laugh with – and that is a wonderful thing. But but I find myself online increasingly later, and it is always in a rush that I scramble up to bed around midnight. I want to read more. I long to wallow in a hot bath.

I will nurture my family:

That thing about me parenting my children every afternoon until bedtime? I lied. I may set them up with a craft, or some homework, but very soon I am back at my desk, or grilling fish fingers as I tweet. At weekends we watch a family film together on the sofa, but it’s never long before an iPad joins the party. I have been proud of my ability to multi-task, but I am deluded.

In the thick of the night I berate myself for my parenting style, and make whispered promises that tomorrow I will be more present for my children. I want to play board games, help my son with his writing, and read to them.

My commitments for 2014:

  1. The hours I spend with my family, I will be 100% present. I will not work distractedly in the background. I will engage with them, and enjoy their young company while I can.
  2. I will continue to cook real food, exploring my recipe books, and serving smaller portions of lovelier dishes to all of us.
  3. I will leave my desk earlier, in favour of books in bed or a long soak. Lights will go out earlier.

So, the one word resolution for Actually Mummy in 2014 is Nurture. What would yours be?