New Year’s Resolution #4: Make My Bed

Yes, I’ll admit it. I don’t make my bed. Sorry to out my husband as well but neither does he. We are not bed making people. We used to be repeat snoozers until we had children. Now we lay there complaining about the baby crying until it is clear that the baby has no plans on going back to sleep. Then we drag ourselves downstairs without ever looking back at our poor disheveled bed.

I don’t care that it is bringing down our bedroom aesthetic but I do care that it means our room feels messy. Our room always feels chaotic. We have piles of clean laundry on chairs and the dresser, heaps of dirty laundry on the floor and a bed with twisted covers and misplaced pillows.

It also means our day starts and ends with chaos. We leave our room a mess to go downstairs to our wildling children where the mess seems to erupt around them but when we climb the stairs to seek refuge from the chaos of the day, we are still met with the chaos of our room.

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Chaos

New Year’s Resolution #4: Make the Bed Everyday

This is a joint goal. I’m not making the bed every day. It’s a joint bed and a joint issue and now it’s a joint goal. Plus sometimes I’m not the last person to get out of bed (although I would prefer to be and would be happy to make this an additional resolution).

We need to start our day with a small win. This is a small accomplishment that can be totally ours, separate from our kids, that can start our days on the right foot. It also allows our days to end well. By taking a moment of calm to make the bed, we’re taking care of future Kat and Tyler, who are going to be tired tonight. They will be so thankful to see there is a nicely made bed at the end of their day.

I am trying to learn that self-care is not a big thing. It is a million small things. And although my self-care goal is a separate resolution, this is one small, specific thing that I want to do regardless of what else happens in my day.

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New Year’s Resolution #3: Live Openly

For many years I considered myself an open book. No secrets were far buried for me. You could get to my deep thoughts without too much digging. An admirable way to live. Done and done.

Actually, this is a terrible analogy. An open book? The books I read often require much digging to get to its heart and some secrets are never truly revealed. Interesting literature for sure, but not healthy as a human. Despite constantly trying to crawl inside a book (I’m on my third book in 4 days), trying to emulate one is not a mental health goal.

Recently it’s become clear just how much I’m not living openly and what that does to my ability to connect with others personally and even advance professionally. I am hesitant to admit personal struggle unless I feel it might help someone else, even in my own home where I should be most free, most open, most loud.

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New Year’s Resolution #3: Live Openly

This year I want to say what’s on my mind. I want to speak up and be wrong and apologize and get over it. I want to be a burden at times. I want to get messy and embrace being messy.

This is the resolution that will be hardest. I honestly don’t know how to do it, except with as each small opportunity presents itself I will try to take a step closer.

New Year’s Resolution #2: Me First

Me first can sound selfish or it can sound obvious depending on where you’re at in your mental health, self-care journey. I always thought I did a pretty good job before I had kids. I had ample hobbies and interests, friends and social activities that my life felt full and rewarding.

Kids totally knocked that out. I did not have a routine. I did not have a stable, dependable habit or thing that kept me sane during tough times. I was just floating by.

Side note: the most important unsolicited advice I would offer an expecting parent is that you establish a meaningful, flexible routine that allows you to keep your sanity in check. Daily meditation? At-home yoga practice? Friend that you can call day or night? Get it before that baby arrives in your home. 

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Sometimes the only answer is to leave the house, rain or no rain. I wanted to go hiking but didn’t want to risk messing up his nap so just hit a nature trail nearby. Compromise.

Now that we’re two kids in I have learned that I really don’t have any self-care habits. I had things I did for fun, not really for calm and it’s really made it difficult to have any emotional resilience.

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Another rainy moment but we rode downtown for ice cream. Totally worth it. 

New Year’s Resolution #2: Me First

I’m going to do something for myself every day. Some days will be small. A cup of tea after the babies go to bed. A long cuddle with Clara. Saying no. Ignoring chores. Taking the kids for a walk even if it’s dark outside or sprinkling rain. Perfect conditions not necessary. I don’t know what this will look like (I’m learning after all) but these are my plans:

  • Hot baths
  • Baking bread
  • Get outside, with or without kids
  • Stating what I need, am feeling
  • Declining invitations
  • Ignoring chores
  • Writing blogs, essays, gratitude journaling
  • Watering the plants
  • Eating food when I’m hungry, not waiting until the children leave me alone
  • Take a pottery class
  • Go to yoga
  • Crafting

 

New Year’s Resolution #1: Or Kids, Plastic and Hope

Children are wasteful. Like overwhelming wasteful. Perhaps in your home is some sort of sweet naturally conservation-inclined baby but mines throws his food on his floor (which is covered in dog hair because life) and is hungry an hour later. He asks me for some milk and then I find the cup/bottle under the couch where he watched it roll and forgot about it. (In fairness to him, he will gladly try to drink hours from now, but no.) And everything is made of plastic. His little seat that straps into a chair (and is extremely mobile and handy), his sippy cups, his bottles, his forks and spoons- all plastic. Don’t even get me started on individually packaged snacks for toddlers. We’ve got them, we use them, I hate it.

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Adorable food throwing baby.

Plus every time you have a kid, they need their own stuff. A lot of it can be handed down from another child, yours or someone else’s, but still they accumulate things. The diapers alone will make you lose your mind.

You can rationalize it any way you like, but having kids is not a great environmental decision. They will impact the earth. Hopefully they will be environmentally conscious little conservationists, picking up trash, minimizing plastic and advocating for better regulations, but everyone has a footprint and they add to it. In fact, just having kids makes it more difficult to keep up your own environmental efforts.

With kid #2, I’ve stopped making baby food (yes, there has been a high quantity of baby food pouches), quit cloth diapers and stopped making a number of other things I formally made from scratch- granola, bread, kombucha, etc.

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We use plant based/biodegradable diapers now but I still miss those cute fluffy cloth diaper butts.

 

Choosing children isn’t purely an environmental choice. If you choose not to have children, are you saying there’s no hope? The only way for salvation is to stop having kids? My old bud, Katie O’Reilly wrote a really great essay on the choice to have children in the face of climate change for Sierra. I hesitated to read it as I thought it might condemn my choices- not just one child but two! Spoiler alert, she decides on hope.

I have a lot of incredible friends who maintain their environmental ways through their growing families. They make all their meals, cloth diaper their babies, and bike to the store. Their ability to keep it up is so motivating and inspiring but I’m not there yet.

But this year, we’re a little farther away from baby land, less in survival mode and I can add a little more of what’s important to me. The key, for me, is a little at a time.

New Year’s Resolution #1:

Without biting off more than I handle, I plan to reduce plastic incrementally. I got some Christmas money and plan to replace some items in our kitchen. Purchase more reusable silicone bags, glass food containers and replace our sponges with brushes.  I’ll also start replacing bathroom items- deodorant, shampoo/conditioner and the like. At one time I thought I wanted to make all our products myself but we’re at the point where I can and should choose to purchase it.

I hope by the end of the year I can focus more on food which is where so much of our waste is created but this is a marathon not a sprint and if I collapse under the weight of unrealistic goals, we’ll never get there!

A little Instagram inspiration to keep me motivated:

@pattiegonia

@zerowastechef

@leangreenbean (not an environmental IG account but she clearly works to balance minimizes waste in a realistic three-kids, working parents way)

@zerowasteoutdoors

@livingwastefree

@darwinsgeneralstore

@tinyyellowbungalow

Plastic-Free July

Although I did have a few new year’s resolutions for 2019, this year I mostly focused on a list of monthly challenges for myself. They felt like mini goals to keep things fresh and let me try more of the things I’ve been interested in. Was this a good idea? No, probably not.
Self-care January was pretty awesome. It was a great way to finish up my maternity leave and force me to focus on me. Highly recommend.
Snail mail February felt a bit overwhelming at times but I wrote around 14 letters, several of which resulted in return mail- a win!
Minimalism March was mainly weekends of purging and tidying which was very cathartic. I need more of this in my life!
April is where things started to go downhill. Originally slotted as focusing on yoga, I changed it to No Expectations April. Even with utilizing YouTube, creating a daily yoga practice felt unrealistic. Do I want one? Sure. But at the end of March was when I felt like my insides were starting to crumble. Living a no sleep, new baby life alongside a full-time job and an ever growing realization that I had developed postpartum depression meant I felt like a shell of a human being. I wasn’t sure what the expectations were but I knew I was holding myself to a high standard and I wasn’t living up to it. Thus, No Expectations April. May and June followed in loosey goosey suit.
I did however take a stab at Plastic Free July. Plastic Free July is an actual thing (Instagram handle, hashtag and all) which made it much more fun and motivating to do. Since this was my first year doing it I had pretty low expectations. I wanted to use the opportunity to say no to plastic where I could, identify where I was unnecessarily dependent on plastic and see where we could improve. I didn’t ask my family to make any adjustments although I did make it clear what I was doing and I did make some changes in our grocery shopping.

Saying No:
With a few exceptions, I was able to say no to all single use plastic. Several times at work I used a piece of plastic cutlery without thinking about it although mostly I’ve been reusing them to make them not-so-single use. I’ve never been good about remembering my travel mug but I made a special effort to keep it with me so I wouldn’t have a need for disposable coffee cups and their plastic lids.

Room for Improvement:
Groceries are tough y’all. Since I work 40+ hours a week and have two children in diapers, I have limited opportunities to shop around in multiple stores. For the most part, I need to be able to go to my local grocer and get what I need but my local store does not have a bulk section.

I made a special effort to go to Whole Foods and the farmers markets but neither provided as many plastic free options as I might of thought. Our local Whole Foods is small with a limited bulk section and I realized many of the items I was buying from farmers were still wrapped in plastic such as meat or cheese. Even berries and cherry tomatoes were coming in plastic containers there. Oy.

My family did not directly complain but I did cut out cereal, chips and crackers from our grocery lists since they all come in plastic bags. It made for shitty snacking, so I welcome ideas here.

Also, on my to do list is to create and utilize plastic free alternatives for eating out. We’re doing great on carrying:

  • Reusable water bottles
  • Reusable Ziploc bags- we recently upped our game with some Stasher bags!
  • Reusable fork and spoon for kiddos
  • Reusable pouches for pureed food

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But we need to include:

  • Straws for adults and kids
  • Cutlery for adults
  • Back up travel mug for those who can’t keep theirs clean (I don’t want to name names but… it’s both of us)
  • Cloth napkins to take plastic free to zero waste
  • To-go containers

Plastic Free July was not actually free of plastic but it was reduced and a good exercise. We ended the month by signing up for a compost pick up service which I’m pumped about! You can bring your compost to the county for free but that’s unrealistic for me right now so I’m willing to pay for convenience.

The unintended upside of this challenge is that all my favorite unhealthy snacks are wrapped in plastic wrappers. No more mid-afternoon candy bars!