As I did last year, I made lists of what worked and what did not work in this past year as I formulated my goals for 2015. In making that list, I also thought through what things changed my life this past year. It may sound dramatic, but the following are things that significantly improved my life overall.
The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: I wrote about this book not long ago. If you're interested in once-and-done tidying, give it a try. I actually feel on top of my cleaning for the first time in years. And I'm still progressing systematically through her list (Kondo believes a full once-and-done approach will take about six months to complete).
Having a word of the year: I would say that planning in general made for a better year. Many of the good things would probably have still happened if I had not planned, but taking the time to plan helped me be intentional in accomplishing and (perhaps more important) in seeing and noticing the good things. My word for the year was "play". It felt silly at first, but during my son's six to eighteen month period (which undoubtedly had many struggles), it kept me light-hearted and forced me to see things through his eyes. I know I was a better mom and wife because of how flexible this word encouraged me to be. And in the midst of all the comparison parenting and conflicting advice, it kept me sane.
Mooncup: This will verge quickly into uncomfortable territory, but if you are a woman, I encourage you to look it up. There are several different brands, and I love this website for information. There's also a great article here about the difference these are making in East Africa. I can't tell you how many times I've thought, "This thing is life-changing!"
Plan to Eat: This site is awesome. I subscribed during the Black Friday 50% off sale. I've never loved Pinterest (I know! I am just a hater!) but Plan to Eat makes it easy to manage, plan, and most importantly, eat! all your recipes. I love the grocery list feature, which is especially nice if you have a smart phone (or can borrow your husband's smart phone as I have).
Infant Potty Training: On a whim, I decided to start potty training Liam at twelve months. We had experimented very loosely with Elimination Communication (which you can check out here) when he was younger. But right before his first birthday, we bought him a potty and some training pants after reading the potty training info on this Montessori blog. Within a month or so, he was doing pretty well. By fifteen months, he was consistent. Now we rarely have an accident. Liam wears underpants during the day. He wears diapers for naps, nighttime, and some outings, but I have retired my cloth diapers. Infant potty learning changed the way I look at how we toilet train children. Instead of thinking of potty training as something I force him to do as quickly as possible for my convenience, it became a gentle learning process out of respect for him. He still doesn't tell us when he needs to go, but he will go on command. The whole thing has simplified our days so much (no more cloth diaper washing for one thing!). I think it's also easier with younger babies because they are less easily distracted and don't need rewards at all.
Capsule Wardrobe: I loved finally limiting my wardrobe. I put most of my off-season/don't love clothes away for a while and whittled it down to about forty items. Thanks to Christmas and colder weather, I probably have about five additional items now. I'm not worried as much about the number as the concept. Keeping out only what you love means you only wear the things you love which is just life-changing! Never feeling like a slob in my disliked clothes is a major win. And there's no guilt when I look at my closet because I love and wear everything there. I have decided to only have two capsule wardrobes instead of four, which is what works best for where we live and how I dress.
Letting Go of Guilt about Sleep: I didn't realize the guilt I felt about the fact that Liam doesn't sleep through the night. I feel like I almost moved through the stages of grief about this from denial to anger and finally to acceptance. It changed my life to stop feeling like a martyr, to realize that we were doing just fine, and to stop explaining or complaining about his inability to sleep through the night.
The FunPod: We got this as a birthday present (for Liam but really for us!) in July. It was life-changing because suddenly Liam could see and help. I liked the Learning Tower, as well, but we needed something for a twelve-month-old, and it's a bonus that he is safely contained and can't get out. Sometimes he colors at the counter while I make dinner; other times he helps me wash dishes or watches (from a safe distance!). I would give up plenty of baby non-essentials to classify this as an essential. It is so worth it!
It Doesn't Have to Be Perfect to Be Beautiful: The Nester's book and site have changed my idea of what it means to keep a lovely, welcoming home. I hear this message in all areas of my life now, and it challenges my perfectionistic tendencies. "Done is better than perfect" is another motto I commonly recite to myself.
The Bible in 90 Days: I decided last January to read the Bible in 90 days. I learned so much during those 90 days, and spending my time reading the Bible instead of most other books, while challenging, was also very refreshing. I used a plan on the YouVersion app. I'm trying to finish my chronological Bible reading plan this year and also study the names of God.
I'll share my word for the year and my goals for this coming year later in the week, and I'd love to hear yours as well! If you want to start working through goals of your own, I can't recommend Lara Casey's series and PowerSheets highly enough!
What things were life-changing for you this past year?