January’s a bleak month, isn’t it? I mean, once we get past the initial enthusiasm for all those New Year’s resolutions and the excitement of best laid plans wanes, what are we left with? A meagre post-Christmas bank balance, a fridge full of celery and school run upon school run of rain – neverending rain. Surviving January can feel like a Herculean effort, come the middle of the month.
You think that’s bad, nothing compares to the relentless uphill struggle of parenting in January. For me, January is always the hardest month as a parent. Mainly because I start the month bursting with ideas and inspiration for how to be the best parent ever, do loads of Pinterest style crafts with the kids, always be patient and never raise my voice etc etc. And, just like last year’s attempt at Dry January, these resolutions usually last around two weeks before I admit defeat and feel like an even bigger failure than before. And so, I’m here to tell you, the key to surviving January is to not set yourself up for a fall in the first place.
My mum, the wise dispenser of advice that she is, often recommends slowing down and looking at what I’ve achieved before I throw myself into the next challenge. As someone who’s always looking forward, this is quite a hard task to take on, but a necessary one all the same. Last year we took on some major DIY home projects which we managed to fit in around the children, no mean feat in itself. We transformed our bedroom and our kitchen and did all the work ourselves. Workwise, I wrote some magazine articles I’m really proud of, continued to grow the beautiful site Roost which we launched in February last year and really built up my YouTube channel. This is all good stuff, but stuff that often gets forgotten in the scrum of To Do lists and daily routines.
As a mum, I helped my six year old through a tricky patch of separation anxiety at school, continued to breastfeed my boob-loving toddler (will it never end?!) and managed many a school run without shouting or losing the will to live, despite having around 2.5 minutes of sleep the night before (thanks kids). We took the kids on an amazing adventure around France, which we arranged and paid for ourselves, went on lots of fun day trips, gave them experiences they’ll hopefully remember in years to come.
I’m cringing as I’m reading these last two paragraphs back because I’m a typically British self-deprecating type. I find it hard enough to pat myself on the back secretly for my small wins, let alone write them down on the internet. Yet I think it’s important – and that, for me, is the best way to avoid the January parenting trap. I want to enter this month not with a black cloud of pressure to do more, be more, achieve more. Instead, I want to start the year with a positive outlook at how much I’ve already achieved.
So what if I don’t do Pinterest crafts after school every day? We do other things instead. So what if I shout on the odd stressy school morning? These things happen, it doesn’t make me a terrible mum. So what if I haven’t got eleven billionty YouTube subscribers, a book deal and a two regular columns in leading magazines? I get paid to write for other people and am starting to get commissions for videos, I run two successful websites and I have a decent magazine portfolio I’d have itched for when I started freelancing six years ago. Small wins, this is where it’s at for January.
I read this post by Gemma at HelloitsGemma recently and it really resonated with me. Although I’m on the healthy eating January bandwagon (at the moment) and we’ve cut out anything other than Friday night wine, I can completely get on board with the idea of kindness in January. It can be such an unforgiving month, I’m not about to start beating myself up even more with spandex, unrealistic promises and an impending sense of failed resolutions.
How about you? What are your January survival tips? Have you ever fallen into the January parenting trap?
(P.S. I’m wearing my M.O.M sweatshirt in the pic at the top – I’ve been living in it recently. It’s available to buy from Mutha.Hood here and all the net profits go to Save The Children. I should probably say this isn’t a sponsored post and I bought the jumper myself – I just really like it and want to spread the love!)