My 4 Lessons from 2014

I loved Ines’s first post for 2015! I found it so good, so inspiring that it got me thinking about what I have learned in 2014. So these, in turn, are my four biggest lessons from the past year:

1. It’s just a phase.

This short, four word sentence probably ought to be my parenting motto. There were some days last year that I chanted it in my head over and over again to keep myself screaming like a banshee and terrifying my child. Like back when I thought that potty training would be years away, repeating the words to myself got me through the tears and stress Carlo and I both experienced. I think it during toddler-willfulness episodes when Carlo insists he knows how to do something, but it’s painfully obvious that he clearly doesn’t.

It’s also a reminder to put down my mobile phone or to leave doing the dishes for another time, especially when my little boy tugs on my hand and asks me to play with him. Or for me to cherish and live in the moment even as he steps squarely on my tummy in his eagerness to sit and cuddle on my lap. These I-always-want-to-be-with-Mama times are a phase too; and they need to be savored as they happen.

2. Take baby steps.

Here in Canada, as you know, we don’t have household help. Furthermore, hiring a plumber, a handyman, an electrician, or a carpenter to do minor repairs or build small projects may cost you easily $50-$100 for what could take just 10 minutes. For me, paying anywhere upwards of $50, doesn’t make sense when: (a) they have lots of products and stores that encourage DIY here, like Ikea and Home Depot; (b) there are numerous internet how-to’s and videos on virtually every subject; (c) the project or repair seems simple and easy to do; and, (d) one has the patience and time to learn, try, and do these things.

I was so scared the first time I picked up our big electric drill last year. My hands kept shaking and I must’ve read the owner’s manual at least five times before I even switched the drill on. And gosh, I don’t know what I would do without YouTube. YouTube videos are a newbie DIYer’s best friend!!! So because I took baby steps with all my DIY projects, last year I managed to hack a play table, fix a leaky toilet, change our busted doorbell, and hang up wall shelves. Carlo (at age three!) even got to help me with some of the DIY things I did around the house.

3. Break down bigger goals into smaller, single goals per day.

That might seem obvious to a lot of people but I didn’t really get it until last year. In the past, I would make resolutions like “lose weight” or “have more ME time” but I never followed through on any of them. Last year, however, I set pretty specific goals for myself, like to assemble the Ikea night tables we bought over a year before, to sort/purge Carlo’s baby clothes, and to cook or bake 38 new dishes. But since becoming a full time stay-at-home mama, I knew that I wouldn’t be able to go “full-out” in terms of tackling any project. Life with a very active toddler tends to come with lots of interruptions. Hahaha! So I gave myself a guideline: to focus just on one mini goal (related to a bigger project) per day. And because I tend to have mommy brain syndrome, I wrote things down in my little notebook and it worked! I crossed off so many of the things I set out to do!

4. Stop putting it off!

Yes, I copied the fourth item on Ines’s list. I thought about coming up with a completely new one, just so that my post today would have different content; but that felt wrong and fake. Because this particular learning/lesson about stopping with all the procrastinating was totally true for me too.

I finally cleared out “the bodega” that had been in my living room for the past three years and my own purge is still on-going. In fact, right after Ines got Marie Kondo’s book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, we chatted about it and right after we talked, I got a copy for myself. (Can you tell that we’re good friends?  ) But I’ll let her talk about the book in another blog post, like she said. Let me just say that as we enter this new year, I find myself eager to take another pass at the things and clothes in my home, purging and curating what I own into only those that make me happy.

Thank you so much, Ines for writing your post! It made me appreciate the year that was and how all the good, stressful, sad, and happy times I experienced in 2014 have made me a much stronger person.  

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  1. Hugs, Tree!!!! I loved reading your lessons – especially number 3. You’re so right — well, about everything! Breaking down all my big problems into little steps so I don’t get overwhelmed, appreciating that yes this is a stage of always wanting mama and instead of freaking me out, I should appreciate it, and of course that if a task is big and scary, baby steps will help (like my self publishing/marketing efforts). So glad my post inspired you to do this one! Here’s to an even better 2015!