Organization, Parenting

New Year’s resolutions

Turkey trot with Lourdes

It’s New Year’s resolution time! While I’m a very goal-oriented person, I typically don’t make New Year’s resolutions. Generally, I set new goals, both formally and informally, throughout the year rather than confining them to the first day of the year.

Last year, getting on a regular house cleaning schedule was a major goal. While cleaning for our 2010 Holiday Open House, dusting amounted to scraping sheets of dust off of our living and dining room furniture. I was sneezing so hard, my eyes were tearing, and  I could barely see. Thus, I decided that more regular dusting and cleaning in general would make the chores –especially dusting — less onerous. Plus I wanted a house that was ready for last-minute play dates and drop-in visitors at a moment’s notice.

To help me accomplish this goal, I turned to the Queen of Clean, Linda Cobb, who is my cleaning idol. She espoused “green” cleaning before green was cool. Cleaning your mirrors? Try vinegar. Need to clean a drain? Try a vinegar/baking soda volcano! Want to clean a cutting board? Look for lemons. In her book, How the Queen Cleans Everything (Atria 2002) she offers dozens of tips and, in one chapter, sets out a schedule for a year of cleaning. I used her schedule and turned them into checklists that I’ve tried to abide by for the past year. (Tried is the key word here. Will I dust my walls? Likely never.)

For weekly jobs like dusting and vacuuming, I assign each task to a day. Monday I do bathrooms and some kitchen cleaning, since the two chores require the same cleaners (vinegar and Bon Ami); Tuesday I dust; Wednesday I vacuum. Normally I start these jobs while the kids are watching their half-hour morning cartoons. I can get at least the bedrooms vacuumed or dusted, so I can wrap up the remainder of the job at nap time, or, better yet, during the kids’ afternoon cartoons. In January I typically make a big push on some annual jobs like cleaning leather or polishing baseboards. The first month of the year, I do clean on Thursdays or Fridays, but only if I’m watching something fun on Netflix instant or DVD.

As much as possible, I try not to clean during nap time (except for my January kickoff). I once read there was nothing more demoralizing than cleaning during those few precious moments of peace and quiet. I normally use nap time to grade papers or work towards other goals I’ve set.

Speaking of other goals, last summer, I decided I was going to start writing again, and I aspired to get at least one manuscript published in a magazine by the end of the boys’ school year. While, I haven’t had success yet, I keep telling myself I’m taking baby steps. I’ve submitted manuscripts, and learned to love (ok, tolerate) rejection. I also endeavored to build my platform as a writer by launching this blog and committing to blogging Monday through Friday. My writing goals have been a mixed bag, but I’m hoping the relaxed pace of the new year will help me get back in the groove.

Finally, my dear friend Lourdes has foisted a final goal upon me: running a 10K in February. All I can say is, “stay tuned.” However, being able to run down an escaping 3-year-old is a valuable skill (those little legs are fast!), and races do keep me motivated.

For me, staying in shape, having a reasonably clean home and blogging are essential elements for raising curious kids. Do you make New Year’s resolutions? If so, what are some of yours?