Another New Year’s has come and gone. With the stress of the holidays, I never really put much thought into making resolutions this year. Okay, being honest, I haven’t for quite a while. This year, however, my newly minted teenager asked me what my New Year’s Resolutions were. Instead of spouting platitudes or trying to make some up on the spot, I eloquently said, “Uh, I don’t really do that.”
“Why?” He asked. Oh how the tables have turned!
“Well, because I try to see personal growth as an ongoing process. Something you should recognize all the time, not just once a year.”
Not that there is anything wrong with making resolutions; they just don’t work for me. I’ve tried so many times in the past to keep the resolutions I’ve made. Some stuck, but most were things that I, probably like you, had heard about and thought might be helpful. Turns out, in most cases, I was wrong. Sometimes with disastrous results; sometimes the activity just faded away. Always I felt guilty about it.
Initially, I stopped making resolutions because I was in my 20s and was too busy partying. Just like everyone else. Then I became a mom and got sucked back into it. Conformity and all. Then, of course, after realizing that I had lagged in my commitments to my resolutions, feeling guilt. Very common, I know. Sorta seems like self-torture though, doesn’t it? We fully intend to lose weight, get more organized, eat a healthier diet, get more exercise, blah, blah, blah…but somewhere along the line that fabulous diet that everyone swears by and the amazing organizational system you were promised would change your life forever, just stopped being a plan and started becoming a chore. This is when, realistically, we know that this new thing we tried isn’t working for us. Some of us stubbornly try to stick to it, forcing ourselves to do things we really don’t want to do.
Of course, there are plenty of things we don’t want to do, but have to. Dishes, laundry, cooking, dusting, vacuuming, mowing the lawn, grocery shopping, paying bills…well, you get my point. Chores. When you’re a kid, chores are things you have to do before you can relax and have fun. Perhaps you also get an allowance. In most cases, it is more because your parents make you do them. This is normal in the realm of parenting and there are, in fact, several sites dedicated to this practice.
Chores are not only a great way to get needed tasks completed, but teaches kids how to become comfortable with housework and other jobs that will help them throughout their lives. Let’s face it, most of us don’t really LOVE cleaning up after other people (or even ourselves!) but these things don’t do themselves. The closest we have is getting someone else to do them for us. Frankly, all this makes me wonder about the message we’re sending, when we talk about how you should “never bribe children.” When my son was little we had a chore chart that had things like ‘brush teeth’ and ‘put away toys’ on it. If he did all his chores, every day, then we would go out for ice cream. Or maybe he could get a new toy. Is that a bribe or a reward system? How about getting an allowance? How about getting a paycheck for working? My son doesn’t see a difference. Neither do I.
What we really need to do is strive for constant improvement. If something sounds great, by all means try it. If, however, you find that this new method becomes a hassle, it’s okay to let it go. After all, we’re trying to improve ourselves. If it’s not an enjoyable experience, why do you think it’s truly helping? Even if it’s the healthiest thing you could possibly do for yourself, why bother if you hate it? You’ll really only be prolonging the experience.
As for me, I’ll continue to try to be my best self; making changes as I go.
Oh! Hey! My chores are done! I’m going to go play a couple of hours of Xbox with my son.