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It’s that time of year again… time for some good ambitious life changes. Yey! You start off with such good intentions but if these things were easy you would be doing them anyway…  I failed already as my resolution is to keep this blog going and see where it leads me yet it’s now the 10th of January! So have any of your resolutions already fallen by the wayside?

I find January is the hardest month to feel motivated to do anything much other than stay in bed and read, or get together with friends. So instead I found myself thinking where I was this time last year in order to realise how far I had moved on… what had changed?

January 2013 we were in the middle of a large building project. This involved extensive work on a cottage we have, but it’s 200 miles away in a fairly remote location so it wasn’t the easiest thing to manage. And when I say we, I really mean ‘I’ as my husband doesn’t have the time to get involved. It was me who wailed at rotten floor joists, woke up in a cold sweat at managing the costs, sourced the cheapest kitchen that met my high standards or deliberated over taps and bathroom plans. The builders left in March and since then I have been busy preparing, painting, wallpapering, making blinds. It’s getting there but it still isn’t finished. And that’s the point, a “To Do” list is never ending – trying to get to the end is impossible so if I judge myself by what is still to be done I will never be satisfied. I think I spend too much time making lists and thinking about what I ‘have‘ to do and life can become a never ending chore list. So:

1: I will be aware of what I have achieved and enjoy the benefits.

Looking back over my diary of the previous year I am always struck by how much I get done. I’m not saying I’m an efficient superhuman here. Just that so many tasks become part of our everyday that we take them for granted. Yes, I’m a stay-at-home mum and no I don’t ‘work’ but bloody hell, there’s a lot of stuff that happens because I make it happen! It’s easy to think that because life never stops we never get anywhere, but take the time to look back and see what’s changed and you may be surprised.

As well as working on the building project I spent a lot of time last year trying to get on top of our home. Domestic chores bore me. (duh!) I have other things I would much rather do with my time. Yet I noticed I felt better when things were in order; I was more patient with the children, I felt more together, I enjoyed getting into a clean bed in a tidy bedroom at the end of the day. I didn’t waste so much time looking for things, or pulling dirty sports kit out of the laundry basket to be worn again before it was washed! Well, not so much.

So what was the difference?

I have to hand this one to my husband… I’m a natural slob; I like things to be visible or I tend to forget about them. I move on the next activity before I have cleared away the last one and that can quickly cause chaos. But you know what? There isn’t a magic fairy who will come along afterwards and pick up after me.  Husband on the other hand is great at putting things away. Sometimes too much – he can put spices back in the cupboard before I’ve even used them, but slowly I started realising that it doesn’t always take as long as I think to do small tasks that make a difference. I don’t always achieve this, but over time it all builds up.

2: I’ve started some habits that make a difference

But… but… some days do seem to be taken over by dealing with the mush. The general mess of everyday life, home finances, laundry, researching dylexia, food preparation (yes, even with meal planning and online orders – you still have to wait in, put the stuff away, and have a bit of a fridge clear out at the same time blah blah) Some of this is important but it can always expand like a balloon to fill any time you have. So I do have one new habit or resolution to put in place.

3: I will limit my time on chores and spend more time on things I enjoy

Part of this will be re-framing my own concept of what is “TO BE DONE” as a chore. For example reviewing photos and putting some in frames or albums, or choosing a new recipe to cook. But I will also approach it in another way. Instead of working through that list and feeling like I don’t ever get to the bottom I will only spend a set amount of time each day on mundane domestic stuff. I’ve started timing jobs to see how long they really take – with some surprising results.

Now, having put off writing this for a week as I wasn’t sure what to write, I could easily expand any of these points… What habits make the most difference? How long do chores really take? What do you mean by re-framing a concept? So maybe next up I’ll expand on some of these, or maybe it will be about hanging pictures or children’s bedrooms. Who knows – see point 3 above and it will be whatever is most interesting to me at the time!

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