4 Tips for New Years Resolutions That Stick!

Happy New Year!

It’s the last day of 2018 and while most people are thinking about the parties they’ll be attending tonight, tomorrow will bring a new year and new resolutions. Why is it that resolutions seem to last all of 45 minutes and then they’re forgotten? We’re back to our previous habits and disappointment in our lack of willpower quickly sets in. Resolution burnout combined with post-holiday blues makes January seem like a dismal month.

A quick web search for top resolutions of 2018 was very illuminating on how generic people get with their goals. Is it any wonder they don’t last? Why not change that this year? Below I list my favorite tips for setting resolutions in a way that they’ll last more than the first week of January.

Tips:
1. Set SMART Goals. SMART is an acronym for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-Sensitive and is a very popular tool used in business. The problem most people have with goal-setting is not making them specific enough. Example: “I want to exercise more”. Ok… more than what? If you set a goal that has specific criteria and constraints, then you will know when you’re achieving it. How do you know you’re exercising more? If you change that to “I want to exercise 3 times a week for 30 minutes each time” then you will know once you hit day 3 that you’re succeeding at your goal. The idea here is to remove any possible ambiguity that provides a “way out” of the goal.

2. Have an end goal in mind but set small goals that will eventually lead there. “I want to lose 50 pounds this year”. While a good goal, it’s also a large one and very daunting. Instead of focusing on this large of an objective, set smaller, achievable goals that create a road map to where you eventually want to be. “For the month of January,  I will work on removing sugary drinks from my diet. For the month of February, I will add vegetables to every meal.” Small goals that are less intimidating and easier to achieve but eventually add up to the overall goal.

3. Positive, not Negative. Most resolutions people set require giving up things. Weight loss requires giving up tasty foods; spending less money requires giving up frivolous spending like gourmet coffee; and so on. It’s very easy to get caught up on the things we have to give up to achieve our goals, which we then start to rationalize as too constricting and then the resolutions fizzle out. Instead of thinking about what we have to give up, focus more on the positive aspects. Spending less money also gives you a chance to get creative with budgeting. Losing weight gives you a chance to try new food and experiment with unfamiliar ingredients. The more positive you are, the more likely you are to stick to your goals.

4. Ask for help if you get stuck. We all need a helping hand now and then. Sticking with the weight loss resolution, if you find yourself eating the same things because they’re tried and true recipes, ask your friends for their favorite healthy options. Search online or Pinterest for new things to try. Keep it fresh and exciting and you won’t suffer burn out.

New Year’s Resolutions are a chance to start over and make improvements we’ve been thinking about but you don’t have to wait for a new year to implement any type of change. You can always choose to reinvent yourself in a new way. The first step is always the hardest, but it gets easier.

Happy New Year and Happy Resolution Setting!

Living with Autism

This post actually took me a really long time to write because this is so close to my heart.

My son was placed on the spectrum over the summer and while I was not at all surprised, I was very annoyed that it took this long for the diagnosis to happen. Several times, teachers recommended visiting the doctor about my son’s classroom behaviors and each time, I was told they do not test based on the recommendation of teachers.

Fast forward to 5th grade… I had to take my son for booster shots in April for middle school and the doctor we saw pulled me aside and asked if he’d ever been tested. I was so angry and she could see it. She responded by apologizing over and over. My only thought was “all this time he could’ve been receiving the help he needs instead of struggling”.

I’m writing this post now to encourage all parents out there – if you have any suspicion about your child, push the doctor until they agree to help. Even if the evaluations determine your child is not on the spectrum, it is better to know than to feel how I felt – that all this time your child could’ve been receiving help and accommodations at school but wasn’t.

Its easy to say “find a new doctor” but as any parent of an autistic child can tell you, it is anything but easy to change anything in their “normal”. Whether its food, or the person who cuts their hair, or the doctor they see – routines are very difficult to change.

This actually happened earlier today – something about my son’s normal changed and it took over an hour to get his mood to stabilize. He was angry, crying, confused and we spent almost 30 minutes sitting in the car at Target talking through all the things swimming around his mind. The only way I’ve found to work through these times is to list a solution or two for each item bothering him. Usually, it’s a landslide – one trigger opens up a storeroom of problems he’s been holding onto.

I’m very new at this and feel very alone – as I’m sure most parents do. However, I’ve realized that what needs to change is my approach to parenting. I have to keep reminding myself that he processes things differently than everyone else and how we work through the problems he’s having has to be different as well. I’m always on the lookout for tips on how to do this because some days, I will try anything.

For other parents out there going through this – I wish you the best. It is a daily struggle for me sometimes, but I know with God’s help, I can be an amazing mom.

All the Holidays!

In a previous post, I mentioned celebrating all the holidays with Kiddo for the month of December: Hanukkah, Yule, Christmas, Kwanzaa… Hanukkah is over and Yule is the next one on the list. Here’s what we did/plan to do:

Hanukkah

  • Lit the menorah every night
  • Listed, starting on day 1, something we’re grateful for and kept adding to the list, so on the 8th day, there were 8 things to be grateful for
  • Said a thankful prayer after listing our gratefuls

Yule

  • I found a Yule prayer that Kiddo recites
  • We light as many candles as we have around the house
  • We exchange a homemade gift
  • We make bird feeders out of oranges and hang them in trees
  • We decorate with greenery

Yule prayer:
I am grateful for that which I have.
I am not sorrowful for that which I do not.

I have more than others, less than some,
but regardless, I am blessed with what is mine.

First, I am thankful for my health.
Second, I am thankful for my family.
Third, I am thankful for my warm home.
Fourth, I am thankful for the abundance in my life.

Christmas is pretty standard around here with the usual gift fest. Last year, we didn’t do much for Kwanzaa – I think we were both exhausted by that point, but we did exchange homemade gifts, do crafts, and talked about the seven principles & the importance of Kwanzaa.

We also donate to as many charities as we can during the holiday season and talk about why its important to give back to the community and help those who are not in a position to help themselves.

For New Years, we tend to do a full cleaning of our home. It’s a fresh start, so we get everything scrubbed and decluttered in prep for the new year.

So that’s how we spend our December. Leave a comment how you spend your holidays.

Homemade Christmas

It’s that time of year again! The air is cold, there are no more leaves on the tress, and my couch always seems to be covered in blankets. I love winter. I grew up in south Louisiana with perpetual summer so living in Pennsylvania, where the seasons actually change, is amazing to me. There’s something to enjoy about all of them.

Last year, Kiddo and I decided to try and celebrate a little bit of every December holiday: Hanukkah, Yule, Christmas, Kwanzaa.. all ending with New Years. We also added in sending out Christmas cards, something we had never done before. This year, however, we decided to do a more traditional route for the holidays that focus more on making gifts instead of buying them. I have a hidden Pinterest board (peeking eyes are everywhere!) that I will unhide after Christmas full of ideas for homemade gifts.

Today, I made a cardboard fireplace. I’ve done this before for hanging stockings. This time I sort of took the lazy way out and used a brown sheet to cover everything. Yeah, it’s not as authentic as the one I did last time, but its holding the stockings. The picture was taken at an angle so its crooked but it’s the best I could do.

I’m loving how my cat has claimed this thing for himself. Up until I put everything together, he’d been sleeping in the fake fireplace.

I will try to get better pictures of some of the homemade gifts I’m making. Stay tuned!